Fashion marketing is a dynamic process that requires dynamic creation of the available opportunities in order for any fashion to stay afloat. The use of social networking sites has become the in thing in the realm of advertising. People and companies are taking advantage of the rate at which the social networking sites are visited in order to market their products.
This paper seeks to establish the way the social networking sites can be used by various people and organizations in the establishment of the right markets for the fashion products.
The current day proliferation in the use of the internet in the world has really transformed the way people can interact. The internet has been able to compress the world into one digital village where interaction with the rest of the world does not require one to leave the comfort of their sitting room or the desk at their workplaces. One of the factors and tools that have made this a reality is social networking.
Social networking sites have become the code of the day. There are various sites which offer social interaction capabilities such that people can communicate with their friends and families situated in diverse localities throughout the world and update them on their day to day activities as and when they happen.
Some of the sites in use today are facebook, twitter, friendstar, MySpace, flicker, zanga, Slashdot, dodgeball, bibo, blogger and so many others. Twitter and facebook comprise of the most visited and the most famous social networking sites.
Fashion marketing includes the analysis, development and marketing of current fashion trends into the sales department for the invention of the right sales strategies. Marketers in the fashion industry are involved in researching about the current trends in the fashion world, the industries and the people concerned and also the reason as to why the trends are so popular.
The simply are focused on the people who are interested in their products. Fashion marketing is a very dynamic process. This is mainly due to the spontaneous changes that are visible in the fashion industry. The competition is very stiff and requires the necessary stakeholders to be always on their toes or else they will find themselves trailing behind the rest in the fashion market (Gunasekaran, et al, 2002).
Integration of social networking sites and fashion marketing therefore tends to be one of the most attractive decisions that a fashion marketer can take. Today, social networking sites are recording the highest number of visits in an hour. This entails that once a product is advertised through the sites, there is a very high probability that so many people will be able to know about the product.
This paper looks at fashion marketing and seeks to garner more knowledge on the use of social networking sites in this industry. The paper will begin with a background and a review of the topic. This will be closely followed by the objectives of the study and the methods that will be used to gather information in the research project. A conclusion will wind up the paper stating some of the important lessons learnt in the paper.
In this section the paper seeks to describe how the popular internet social connection platforms can be used to market fashion. Bohdanowicz & Clamp (1994) state that “marketing plays a vital role in the fashion industry”, since social networks can be an effective marketing tool, this paper discusses how the fashion industry can use these networks to leverage its marketing strategies.
Social networks are a meeting point for people. Networks like Facebook, Twitter, provide a means for people to link up with new people or old friends. They are also used by professionals to enhance their odds of career development. Social networks provide the opportunity to upload or download photos and videos. This ascertains their genuineness in a particular social circle, industry or just keeps them in touch with their contacts.
Business establishments have noticed the impact that social networks are having on the way people communicate, connect are meet. As a result social networking has become a platform where people can be introduced to products and services (Elliott, 1991). This has resulted in the development of relationships between the sellers and buyers of products and services (Marzo-Navarro, Pedraja-Iglesias, & Rivera-Torres, 2004,p 420-423)
How social networks can be an effective marketing tool
Since businesses discovered that social networks can be used as an effective marketing tool, marketers have been overlooking the real purpose of why social networks were setup in the first place. Some networks, like Twitter and Facebook were setup to connect friends. Others like LinkedIn were setup to connect people of the same professions.
People want to belong to groups with other people of similar interests and backgrounds. Social networks fulfill this need and they have now redefined the use of the internet and it is now being used to connect people more than ever before regardless of the geographical constraints.
Social networks have enabled fashion marketing to be easier and more effective because they provide a marketing latency that can be used to greatly enhance any fashion marketing campaign.
The internet has, however, been a fashion marketing tool for businesses, the main departure from tradition is that increasing competition in the global marketplace has forced businesses to look for new ways of maintaining customer loyalty and increasing market-share in increasingly saturated markets (Marzo-Navarro, Pedraja-Iglesias, & Rivera-Torres, 2004, p434).
Businesses now use less of the traditional methods of directing internet traffic to their websites by optimizing the process of link building. They now employ social networks to communicate their message. Social networks are an effective tool for marketing because thousands potential customers are communicated to whenever they visit the firms social page (Kotler & Eduardo, 1989).
Traditionally, the use of search engines for marketing called for the creation of content that contained a lot of the keywords that the site creators aim to call attention to, which would then be supported by the getting as much links as possible to be directed to your page with the keywords as the anchor links.
Social networks introduced a new approach that forces you to use the traffic that you get from the internet and facilitating them to discuss about the targeted topics that the marketer would like to be the key points.
Social networks can provide thousands of simultaneous connections whenever friends share or discuss any particular topic. Over time, casual mentions and discussions of a product can lead to full product endorsements (Hines, 2007). The established product endorsements can easily reach new connections exponentially as more people are made aware by their friends and contacts.
Traditionally, internet-search-engine based marketing techniques relied on directing traffic to your site through links, nowadays social networks have made this more effective by having people direct each other while in their discussions, which is the equivalent of people being directed to your product site based on the opinion of their friends.
Attributes of marketers that make them use social networks effectively
Social networks mirror the way people get connected to each in real life relationships. The social theory of connection: “Six Degrees of Separation” states that anyone can meet anyone else by being connected to the eventual contact by five intermediary contacts.
This theory is illustrated by the way social networks facilitate connections that can be used to create marketing opportunities (Moore & Fairhurst, 2003, 385). In terms of the connection theory, marketing can be carried by people who facilitate connections under three categories, namely:
- Connectors. When a marketer is running a campaign, there are people who are already connected to her, and the marketer is able to connect to many more others (McKee, 1992), because her major goal is to reach out to as many people as possible. The marketer will therefore act as the connector between people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. (Bohdanowicz & Clamp, 1994)If a product can be considered as germ, then the marketer acts as the vector of the germ, because they come across many people than others do.
- Mavens. Marketers, who employ the tactic of spreading the word about a good thing, fall under this category. They have the skills to initiate a buzz about a good thing. Once a widespread interest has been sparked, the connectors spread it even further.
- Salespeople. These are the type of people that easily persuade others about the marketing message of a particular campaign (Bohdanowicz & Clamp, 1994). They convince those that are hesitant about the message that they deduce from a particular marketing call.
How Social Networks Can Increase the Return of Investment of the Fashion Industry
In this section, the paper discusses how social networks have contributed to the returns on the investments of the fashion industry by describing how they have been used to make fashion marketing more efficient and far reaching. According to Easey (2009), the fashion industry has always relied on classic methods of doing business, which generally shun the extensive integration of technology into its practices.
The industry is more people oriented, most of the production process relies on the physical input of people, as an illustration, the design process is usually done by hand. In the recent past, however, the fashion firms have been increasingly employing technology to increase the production efficiency and source material quality assurance.
Fashion marketers have until recently relied on the information provided by the retailers of fashion products to determine those products that might do well in the market. Even recorded sales data could not be used to accurately determine which products would generate good sales in the future.
Social networks could be however be used to measure the response of the consumers to a particular design, which would lead to better projections of the fashion sales. This gives the producers the advantage of manufacturing quantities that they are sure of selling instead of releasing products that would produce a glut in the market (Selden, 1996).
Fashion retailers have been facing a problem of having to deal with the huge quantities of returned merchandize. Products get returned when they do not fit the customer appropriately, the material that made the product is of a quality that the customer did not expect or the customer is just not satisfied with product.
Fashion social sites like MyShape have solved this problem by enabling people to create their profiles which enables the fashion producers to be creating products that are accurately tailored to the needs of the customers.
According to Andersson, et al, (2004) marketing should be carried out so as to have the maximum possible impact on the intended consumers; this is what social networks are achieving by increasingly turning window shoppers into actual fashion buyers.
An analysis of the preferences of the connected customers enables the fashion retailers to offer what would is in demand, thus fulfilling the actual fashion needs of the customers. Retailers can post images of what they offer and according to the comments of the members of that network; they can fine tune their offers accordingly (p 110).
While some social networks are providing data about the preferences, purchase power and emerging trends, other technology firms have integrated this data to provide even more personalized data services.
The social-trends monitoring technology firm Novitaz has a system that communicates with a fashion consumer by using their mobile phones to track their locations so that they can provide information about the nearest fashion outlet and broadcast news about the latest trends that are suitable for that particular consumer.
While a firm known as ShopKick employs the same technology to enable the fashion retailer to send personalized promotional news to the consumer. The promotions could include gifts that are linked to other social sites, for example Facebook Currency.
Though social networks have become now increasingly become a means of marketing fashion merchandise, albeit the traditional methods of reaching the fashion consumer are still influential (Andreasen, 1995), thus the fashion retailer now needs to track all the marketing media to gauge the effect of a product campaign.
A firm called Fashion GPS specializes in tracking all the media that a fashion retailer may use to market her products and integrates all this into common consumer data.
Implications of this research
In this section, this paper shows how marketing through social media is here to stay, but the way in which it is carried out will have to adapt to changing times, as Bohdanowicz & Clamp (1994) say: “the transient nature of fashion means that marketers must constantly operate within time constraints”.
The marketers of fashion should therefore be careful to disregard the fundamentals of marketing, even when they use novel marketing media like social networks. The goals of the marketing campaign are carefully regarded to ensure that the correct messages are passed, since social media can transmit any kind of message, good or bad, at the same rate (Tomes, 1994,p160).
Although marketing has been proposed to be carried out aggressively, when the marketer is at a personal level with a potential consumer (Andersson, Hedelin, Nilsson, & Welander, 2004, p 112), keen attention is required when social media marketing is used because it easily leads to unintended results.
- The main objectives of this study will be as follows:
- To investigate the way fashion marketers establish their foundations using their current and existing systems
- To investigate both the advantages and the disadvantages of using social networking sites as a fashion marketing tool
- To get and distinguish the challenges involved in using the social networking sites in the fashion industry as a tool for fashion marketing
- To establish the factors that outline the direct effects and also the indirect effects of using the social networking sites as tool to market the current trends in the fashion industry
- To establish the impacts of using the social networking sites and other opportunities that can help in fashion marketing from the social networking sites.
This research will use the philosophy of realism as the core part of the research. This will assist in ensuring that the data collected trough the methods that will be discussed later will portray the real situation as it is and also the expectations for the future.
The necessity of applying such a stance is due to the seriousness in the way style impacts lives of people directly. Fashion is used to depict someone and is the outward voice that explains who a person is (Weikum and Vossen, 2002).
The study will seek to build theories and answers which will be based on the collected information. According to Creswell (1994), the information which is required at any one circumstance during a certain process, is concerned with both the nature of the situation and also the status of the situation. This is because of the longitudinal pattern of its existence.
The practices and also the existing relationships have the capability of being explored to the last inch through this process. In addition to the existing practices, say in the fashion industry, the continuing beliefs and subsequent processes that influence the changes in the fashion industry also fall in. the combination of this facts and maybe figures can lead to possible prediction of future trends in the industry (Best, 1970).
From such an analysis, the research will have been able to establish the most important aspect of the fashion industry; being in line with the current trends and the psychic abilities of predicting the next hit in the fashion industry. With the right prediction, consequent advertisements can follow suit (Joshi, 2005).
In the first stages of the research, it will incorporate a qualitative approach through the distribution of survey questionnaires. The questionnaires will be sent to two broadly based groups of people located in a local university for ease of collection and convenience in data entry. The first group will comprise of students pursuing various degrees in fashion designing and other fashion oriented courses.
The second group will consist of students found in the internet cafes and various internet hot spots within the chosen campuses. The essence of this distribution is to incorporate knowledge about fashion and the use of internet. Though the questionnaires will be the same, it will be simple to note out about the trends that are going on with respect to the way that the students will answer the relevant questions.
In the questionnaires, the instrument of choice will be both structured questions and open ended questions. The questions will be demographic and some other answers will be direct and associated with the topic under discussion. The topic will be generalized to come up with the right statistics that will be used to determine the right graphical trend for the job.
Another form of research that will be employed in this research project will be a detailed media analysis. In the media analysis, focus will be concentrated on topics and articles in the media that focus on the research. Pints will be taken and analyzed at the end of the data collection period. The findings will be incorporated to the previous findings so as to get some concrete information (Joshi, 2005).
Contribution of the study
This study will help market researchers in establishing the right track in their internet marketing. Due to the proliferation that is found today in the field of internet marketing, most people lack the proper idea on how to go about marketing. This research will thus be an eye opener to all the stakeholders involved in fashion marketing on the riches found in social networking sites in terms of information outsourcing and delivery.
This research has been done in a very ethical way in that there is no involvement of financial inducements, deception or any form of unethical behavior that might in any way compromise the standards that have been duly set in the university code of ethics.
Time scale and resources
This research will take two three months. Data collection will take the first one month. This will be followed by an analysis and compilation of the data. After this has been done, the data will be compared with previous researches to check for consistency after which the final report shall be written.
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