Wet Seal is undergoing a leadership transition that should also lead to better revenue fortunes of the company. Under the new leadership of Edmond Thomas, the company expected to ride on his experience in the company and outside it to move it to a better market performing position. The holiday season is also just beginning and Wet Seal has to capitalize on increased buyer sensitivity to fashion and improved demand due to the season.
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The company is also capitalizing on the chairperson’s position. The new chairperson, Adam Rothstein, has enough experience in retailing as the chair of Big Idea Brands. He is supposed to bring his knowledge of fast fashion and market dynamics into the Wet Seal’s business fraternity. This should assist Wet Seal in handling operations and inventory management tasks to ensure that its storefront success strategy garners enough support from relevant back office strategies (Asch par. 7-9).
Wet Seal operates its own branded stores, which number more than 473. It also operates the Arden B stores, which are about 83 in number. The Arden B stores are for contemporary young women who are beyond the target market for Wet Seal branded stores. The company relies on its distribution center in Foothill Ranch, California to ensure that merchandise from suppliers reaches stores and customers in time for various seasons.
Consistent innovation at the distribution center contributes to the responsiveness of the retailer to changes in its market. The company can now rely on its distribution center to make up to 800 sorting tasks for stores in an automated process that previously only achieved half of the new target. As a result, it now takes only 24 hours to process merchandise. Previously, it took days to achieve the same task.
Young women are the main target customers for Wet Seal. The strategic targeting of this age group worked well for the firm and should continue to do so in the future. Changing the target is not a robust move for the firm, given that the market has already associated the brand with young women and teen girls clothing.
What Wet Seal needs to work on is the upgrade of its target market definition to include present day characteristics of the 13 to 23 year olds. They are quite different from what they would be described as a decade ago. In fact, many point out that the failure of Wet Seal to perform well as a business relates to the slackening of its catch up process to the changing demand features of the store’s target market.
Most teenage girls and their parents have heard of Wet Seal and a majority of them have shopped at one of its stores. Wet Seal’s initial target customer was aged between 13 and 19, essentially all teenagers. However, the age gap is depreciating with the increasing pressures of the early 20s girl to still appear trendy and young and the late teen girls wanting to seem mature, sexy, beautiful, attractive, and outgoing, just like their early 20s counterparts. Wet Seal now caters for the age group from 13 to 23, an age range of ten years. However, the media age and its biggest target are still the 16 year olds and mostly 17 year olds, who define the prime age of teenage fashion.
Wet Seal should be able to increase its merchandise processing speed with creativity and adequate planning and using the right technologies for retail management. This will ensure that the Los Angeles stores and other stores around the country get the right clothes to match the demand trends, when they are still relevant. At the same time, proper management should lead to cuts in associated costs, such as transportation and storage.
The company should use technology to achieve considerable sales growth, given that it did it in the past and succeeded. The company credits its growth of more than 550 stores with the ability to respond to trends. The company recognizes that its target market represents the most fickle buyers in America.
The customers have no patience to wait for new arrivals and they change their tastes and preferences very quickly compared to other age groups. Consequently, holding the right stock, at the right price and with the right quantify to meet demand, but not to overly exceed it, is a crucial capability for Wet Seal.
Teen clothing does not stay the same throughout the years, but it can change to previous fashion attractions or completely embrace new ones. The important thing to note is that store arrangement must vary after a few months to signify season change and collections change. I have visited a Wet Seal store in Los Angeles several times a year and witnessed changes in layout that gave the visitor an impression of changed seasons and collections.
Teens also come from different economic backgrounds and targeting them requires a store to have adequate collections for different income groups. However, clothes targeting the low-income groups should not be visibly inferior to those that are highly priced. In fact, in the fast fashion industry, pricing trends follow clothing trends. The trendiest outfits should be the priciest, with last season’s collection going on the discount shelves to move the remaining merchandise faster.
Teen clothing at Wet Seal includes everything from tees to jeans and all the combinations that a teen or young woman would find creative. Other collections are specific, combining a number of basic clothes, such as tees and jeans, to form specific fashion statements. These receive inspiration from popular television show celebrities or popular entertainment personalities who would appeal to teens. At the same time, a range of events also inspires ordinary collections
In light of the above discussion and the basic marketing techniques of fast fashion, as well as the inherent product marketing strengths of Wet Seal, the following are the suggested collections in five categories that the company can concentrate on this holiday season to boost its appeal to its target market. This holiday season is all about the new trend of being pretty and little. Ugly also comes as a fashion statement to demonstrate the rebellious attitudes of teenage years and a radical fashion turnout.
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Thus, the whole theme is pretty, little, and ugly. This is the theme embraced by popular teen movie characters. It follows the urge to pick on dull, but very nice looking outfits that are not only fitting, but also designed creatively. There is an emphasis on ugly not as looking bad in the literal sense, but a take on the otherwise non-conventional and not so common features of a typical outfit.
Type 1: jeans
Denim pairs of jeans are a popular outfit for many teens. It is versatile in use and in looks. Ugly can be well represented in jeans through unfinished trousers, ragged trousers, acid washed jeans, and other supposedly ugly and rough finishes. The idea is to pick a perfect pair of jeans and use creative imagination to alter its appearance with the aim of presenting it as cool. For Wet Seal, a strong collection is essential, because jeans are one of the ubiquitous teenage girls’ outfits.
They already represent freedom. New collections must be fitting and can take on different price points, depending on the details that go with the jeans, the sizes, and the demands. Many teens who want to change their appearance, but are still hanging on to their known identities will embrace the pairs of jeans that are rugged and ‘torn’, much more than they would take up an entirely new outfit (Haslett par. 3-5). Trendy jeans can attract premium prices upwards above 30 dollars, with exclusive collections that are cobranded with popular celebrity figures going to price targets of 40 dollars.
Type 2: shirt dresses
Dresses are must have fashion and everyday wear items for a young woman, including teenage girls. They represent full feminity. They also serve as the perfect means of demonstrating sexiness and still being conservative. They are ideal for formal occasions, as much as they fit informal ones.
However, within the category of dresses, there is a new trend of shirt dresses inspired by boyfriend jackets and other oversized boys wear that teenage girls might wear and look cool for a while. Inspired by popular movies and television shows, shirt dresses are now a must have fashion collection this coming holiday. Their noticeable feature is the folded arm and short length that ends just above the knees.
These dresses can also double up as tops and will make perfect sense for the cold season, just as they already do in slightly warm seasons. Their multiseason feature will allow the store to change them frequently without necessarily getting rid of unmoved inventory. They are easy to reintroduce as retro or new bargain collections (Mitzeliotis par. 6-8).
For the most trendy shirt dresses, prices can touch the 30 dollar ceiling and the store will then price others according to the available promotions. Girls seeking to be pretty will go with dresses, but their idea of being rebellious will also push them to shirt dresses, rather than the traditional dresses.
At the same time, having a non-traditional print dress can also comfortably come off as ugly as used in the urban slang way. The dresses will, however, attract heightened competition from other established fashion brands like Forever 21; thus, Wet Seal will have to be extra careful at matching trends. This is where adequate customer relationships will play a part in identifying trends.
Type 3: graphic tees
Just like a pair of jeans, T-shirts are also ubiquitous fashion items. Tees are so individualistic and help to send out a message. If a teen wants to show the world that she is the queen of ugly, then she will do it with a tee. If another wants to show her friends that her coolest pop group is Fifth Harmony, then she will likely do it with a tee.
Both summer and winter collections must have tees, with the thickness of the fabric and the basic colors being the differentiating factor. Cold holidays like the upcoming ones demand thicker tees that can be worn indoors and under jackets and cardigans or sweaters. These tees will go as alternatives to sweatshirts and they are good for demonstrating variety in a girl’s closet. Tees are the perfect items for showing ugly, when other outfits have a pretty and little feeling and appearance. They go well with trousers and shorts alike.
Type 4: sweaters
Sweaters and cold seasons are synonymous. However, rather than just be basic clothing, they are also some of the most controversial and appealing fashion items that a teen can have. Wet Seal offers sweaters of different varieties. Upping that trend with hooded sweaters and unconventional print sweaters will capture the interest of most teen girls. Tight fitting, light sweaters can replace shirts, while heavy ones are perfect for outside layer clothing.
The right sweater for a teen is the one that makes her achieve what she is looking for from her outfit. This notion presents Wet Seal with a huge opportunity to have diverse merchandise that will be trendy in the season and capable of attracting premium prices throughout. Prices can start from 22 dollars for basic print sweaters and move up, as features and designs are added to the outfit. Long foldable sleeves are the in-thing for this category.
Type 5: night out dresses
Unlike ordinary dresses, nights out dresses are special and only relevant for night out events. They are crucial to a girl’s personality and attitude and they are a perfect mix of non-verbal communication. The dress will be suitable as plain, complicated or even accessorized, depending on the night event, such as a beach party, a club, a house party, a formal event, or any other event.
Having a collection that matches all possible dress designs for going out at night puts Wet Seal on the right market for this holiday season. Prices can range from 20 to 50 dollars and dress designs can be inspired by celebrity culture that teens follow religiously.
Type 6: Rompers/jumpsuits
Today’s teen is not fixated on the traditional basics. She would rather have a multi-appearance clothe for everyday needs. Rompers are the perfect clothes for identity, fashion, and femininity. They are also quite pricey for their associated glamour. Jumpsuits offer an alternative for girls not keen on skirts and dresses. Their use of accessories can make them very attractive and cool. Prices should be anything below 50 USD, with the media price being about 30 dollars. The category is also ideal for clearance sales for its popularity.
Marketing opportunity to maximize sales
Marketing to teens and young women is tough. The target age group is one of the most fashion-conscious and is very critical in what it chooses. Therefore, targeting those on-the-go female consumers should follow the right triggers and use appropriate marketing channels, if the firm is eventually going to maximize sales and profits.
The young women and teenage girls are comfortable with the use of smartphones and its various applications. In fact, much of their social life revolves around the connectivity features of the Internet presented by a smartphone. The target demography has a vague differentiating line between the offline world and their online world.
They freely talk and share things happening in both worlds, with no specific clarification on the boundaries. Thus, appropriate targeting must take care of the seamlessness in the way the target customer’s move from the physical stores and interaction experiences to online stores, and interaction experiences when shopping alone or in groups.
Wet Seal can improve its customer relationships and increase its knowledge of present and potential customers using technology. With an online retail presence that caters for its entire geographic area market, the company also complements its physical stores without necessarily investing in the actual retail spaces.
The cost savings at the online stores can help to meet revenue shortfall on physical stores and help to point out emerging trends. Online shoppers can easily see new arrivals and buy them, rather than wait for their actual arrivals in stores. The company can use the online store as its first window to gauge whether a certain collection is moving as first as predicted and whether its introduction into physical stores should be hastened or halted.
Just as the company is concentrating on improving its transaction processing speed, and inventory processing speed, it also needs to focus on increasing its information capture about customers and processing the information fast. Today’s customer is very well attached to smartphones, which serve as marketing mediums and tools to gather adequate knowledge about tastes and preferences.
There is a huge opportunity in using rich media to interact with customers in a number of online avenues, including standalone smartphone or tablet applications and social networking websites. Young female customers are constantly using their phones to stay in touch with the latest from the fashion industry, from their friends and from other news sources they see relevant (Delo par. 6).
Wet Seal should not expect to fill all these informational channels for its target customers; however, it must embrace the marketing opportunity and, at least, put a vibrant information source for its target customers. The company has evolved from using text based promotion strategies to embrace rich media that is more interactive and informative as displayed in the images below (Tode par. 3-4).
Rich messaging can be shared across various platforms and it can allow the targets to engage with the company directly. For example, teens can make inquiries about the arrival of new collections or the available discounts. The store, in return, can inform teens about its ongoing promotions or its next in line merchandise that they need to check out.
With the appropriate usage of social networking, the store personifies itself to appear as another cool-to-hang-with teen that has all it takes to be a super and wonderful teenage girl. At the same time, it will be respecting personal boundaries by only sending messages to teenagers who opt for the service and who interact with the store on a number of available social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram (Murphy par. 7).
Partnering with technology providers to achieve the social media outreach goals is essential, as a partner would allow Wet Seal to concentrate on the marketing message without worry about the actual management of technologies.
Another marketing opportunity is the partnership with other social aspects that appeal to teenagers and young women. Here, entertainment spots and high profile music artists who are trending would put the Wet Seal brand in the right context. The company can continue seeking brand association with popular teen movies, music bands, and music or other entertainment artists. For example, the company is launching limited edition merchandise branded with both Wet Seal and Fifth Harmony.
The latter is a music group that is under the Sony Music Entertainment label, which was first discovered during a popular reality TV show called the X-Factor. The partnership is congruent with teenage fashion and popularity ideals throughout America. It will boost sales for various customer styles and backgrounds at Wet Seal’s online and offline stores. In addition, the company can easily dedicate special merchandise pages and social media features, such as videos and chats, to promote the new collection (The Wet Seal, Inc par. 1-5).
Asch, Andrew. “Wet Seal Hoping to Turn Fortunes with New Executive Team.” California Apparel News. 2014.
Delo, Cotton. “This Brand Hired a 16-Year-Old to Build Its Following On Snapchat.” Advertising Age, 2014.
Haslett, Sophie. “Ripped Jeans: Has Kim Kardashian Taken It A Rip Too Far?” Graziadaily, 2014.
Mitzeliotis, Katrina. “Shirt Dresses Are Here To Stay: 26 Ways You Can Rock The Fall Trend.” Hollywood Life 2014.
Murphy, Chris. “Global CIO: How Wet Seal Drives Sales With Facebook, iPhone.” Information Week, 2010.. 2014.
The Wet Seal, Inc. “Wet Seal Teams up with Pop Sensation Fifth Harmony for an Exclusive Collection.” Yahoo Finance, 2014.
Tode, Chantal. “Wet Seal Fires Up Text Messages With Rich Media To Better Engage Teens.” Mobile Marketer, 2014.