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How is celebrity culture affecting retail?

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The impact of celebrity endorsements is hitting the younger generation a huge amount, especially with the help of social media in today’s digital era.

Kim Kardashian, Kate Moss, David Beckham and even Usain Bolt help promote products or a service to help brands with advertising campaign, of course in return usually receiving a generous monetary gain.

This week #BreakTheInternet has been trending on twitter worldwide due to the world famous Kim Kardashian featuring on PaperMag – New York. Which has brought great attention to this less popular fashion and pop culture magazine.

It’s no secret that celebrity endorsements have been practised, since the birth of the TV and radio, but the potential of this publicity strategy is at an all time high. With a surge in social networking sites. This clever marketing strategy enables brands to increase exposure in the market and is highly valuable for retailers.

However with many celebrities influencing the UK fashion market a great deal over the past few years, many retailers need to ensure they are prepared for unprecedented sales growth, to make certain they are getting the most out of these sales booms.

The “Kate Middleton effect” is essentially how drastically Kate Middleton the Duchess of Cambridge continues to influence fashion sales.

One of the British labels most closely associated with Kate Middleton is Reiss. The company has increase availability without compromising its desire not to mass-produce.

“Following the release of the official engagement portraits, in which Kate chose to wear one of our dresses, we were inundated with enquiries and interest regarding the dress,” a spokesperson for Reiss told Vogue UK. “As the Nannette dress was not available to buy at the time, we decided to re-release it as a result of great customer demand. We sold out very quickly online - at one point we were selling one per minute until the dress sold out. The dress was then re-ordered and a limited quantity is currently available in the US after we sold out again online and in the UK.”

The only downside to these unexpected sales booms is that brands are at a risk of damaging their brand values if their website crashed and they cannot fulfil unforeseen customer demand. However some people may argue that exclusivity in a product makes it that more luxurious. Nonetheless brands and especially luxury brands in today’s fashion market cannot afford to lose out on sales due to website malfunctions or a transaction fail.

For example the well known brand; Reiss, sold out the ‘Shola Dress’ which the Duchess wore to meet the Obamas in May 2011 - “a surge in web traffic caused the website to crash for two-and-a-half hours; it sold out as soon as service was resumed; we then reordered the dress, set to arrive this month, and created a pre-order page on the site for customers.”

It is essentially all about customer satisfaction. A consumer feels satisfied after buying a product that involves celebrity endorsers, to the point where consumers are willing to pay more for a product, just because it is associated with a celebrity they like.

Ultimately celebrities can be a huge success for retail companies. One limitation that companies must realise is that the brand should be bigger than the celebrity itself, otherwise it will overshadow the product itself to the point of being obsolete, and it defeats the purpose of brand awareness and exposure.

The companies will have to also consider when it is the right time to carry out the endorsement strategy based on the current season and trends.

The customer perception and attitude towards the celebrities also has an influence in whether the brand is truly to be followed by consumers for brand recall, or just another ploy to gain more sales. In the end, be it to restore a failing brand, increase sales, or to further boost the image, celebrity endorsement can bring more attention and appeal towards the retail brand’s marketing strategy.

Published on Friday 14 November by Editorial Assistant

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