How do the ego prided customers flaunt their status, and how can retailers commercialize on it?

Retailers collect thousands of products covering various established brands and stock it in their store shelves. But the question is, "Which out of these will be of the customers interest? And, which will stay in the shelf to collect dust?" This is more important when it comes to products such as apparels which are more sensitive to trends, and fashion trends keep changing quickly in a capricious manner.

In today's trend, consumption has become partly for pleasure. People show more interest in amassing new stuff to keep pace with their peers, and seek to advertise their status. Rather than buying to match with their state of affairs, they trawl the world for exotic designs, and styles. This applies specially in case of apparel shopping. They prefer more to customize their wardrobe to speak their personalities. The percentage of status seekers is gradually increasing.

A market research on the same reveals that during 2002 this category was 9%, and gradually increased to 12% in 2004, 16% in 2008, and 17% in 2010. Success, to retailers depends on spotting, and satisfying them. To make the retailers job easier, a process called 'trend watching' appeared.

The 'Retailer-Customer' equation:

Customers of the present times are more status savvy. Media and internet has made the farthest corners of the planet at a distance of just round the corner. Retailers have been quick to utilize the technological advancements to their benefit. There are brands with deep pockets, which have a dominant market share, and know-how of the competitive advantage of their products. Still the market potential is not easy to gauge. Customer preferences are trend driven, which are very volatile in nature. Retailers get involved in a range of activities that depend on short reaction and delivery times, simplified administrative procedures, low-cost handling etc so as to enable a carefully focused, awareness building marketing efforts.

Spotting the status seekers:

To the status seeker, buying a luxury apparel brand is a status symbol, a symbol of status and exclusivity. They are keen to communicate this through their apparel shopping behavior. Status seekers are generally action-oriented, and outgoing with a competitive mentality and energy. They focus on aspects such as individuality, personal initiative, decisiveness, status, and achievement when they shop for apparels. Though they may or may not be wealthy, they would have a materialistic outlook. They will mostly be employed in a private enterprise, or would be self employed.

They are born with good provenance, and are bold bon viveurs. Environment and energy consumption are not their concern. To them, words such as organic, and sustainability is also another form of fashion, or mostly associated with health related concerns. To them, apparels should be of adding value to their personality.

Satisfying the status seekers:

To a retailer, successful business with the status seekers depends on giving them a feeling of being set apart from the others. A special offer to them cannot be for the mass, and it should be clear that everyone cannot be a part of it. Retailers come up with exclusive strategies to satisfy the plush class.

Behavioral science in improving customer experience:

This approach, apart from looking at the consumer as an individual, also looks at the groups, cultures, societies, and processes which attribute to specific consumer behavior. Retailers use many tools to collect information regarding the consumer behavior. The best way is through observation. Retailers can sharpen their focus on the consumers at the point of purchase. When consumers shop for apparels there would be people nearby asking for their opinion regarding the clothes, or taking a short survey. This helps to go beyond the boundaries of normal behavior and explore the motivations behind the same.

Capitalizing the customer insights:

Rapid transformation and growth in the customer segments, their preferences, distribution channels, store formats, and product categories urges the need for the retailers to integrate, and analyze the information. Retailers need to focus on the intersection of the various types of information available to them. Data of the customers preferences should be converted into useful insights such as why, when, and how the customers buy. Common characteristics of the status seekers become visible when the facts and viewed and analyzed through multiple angles. Retailers must be able to commercially exploit the same.

Traditional trade practices should be effectively combined with technology skills to produce high quality products and also demand a conscious consumption. For instance, Trikoton, a German fashion house enables customers to shop for apparels based on their voice. They have a computer that detects the customers voice, and converts the speech pattern into knitting patterns. This will satisfy the individual personality of every status seeker.

The success of the retailer depends upon capitalizing on the consumer's preferences through proper identification and prioritizing of the opportunities where flourishing segments, channels, and product categories intersect. Companies must be shrewd enough to capitalize on the buying signals of the consumers, and embed them in their key decisions through restructuring their brands, product development, sales planning, and advertisements.





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