Perception of Retailers

If I were to ask you where I could find cheap and trendy women’s clothing what are some of the stores you would think of? Most likely Forever 21, Windsor, H&M, and Foreign Exchange (for those so-cal residents) come to mind. The introduction of Forever 21 completely changed the direction of retailers. This new idea of providing trendy clothing at low prices enticed many women to move from jeans and t-shirts to dresses and blazers. These companies are successful in quickly producing the latest trends and constantly offering new products. This environment of low priced products with a limited life span creates a “buy now” attitude for consumers, what’s $20 dollars anyway? These new retailers are competing and crushing companies like Billabong and Rock and Republic who were flying high selling their products in a once stable economy and now struggling to reestablish their markets.

What I always wonder is what are these retailers portraying to consumers through their products? Well known name brands like Vera Wang and Calvin Klein may provide discounted clothing, like Vera Wang’s Kohls collection,but under a brand name that screams “high quality”. Is it the actual brand name that provides the perception of quality or is it the store at which it is sold? My prior image of Kohls was an unfashionable discount retailer but that concept is changing with the increasing number of well known names they have attached to their store. These include Lauren Conrad, Vera Wang, Candies, Nike, DC and Vans. When looking to stores like Forever 21 and H&M their brand has positioned themselves as a low price retailer that would seemingly have lower margins. But is the perception of their products good considering all their products are tied to their retail name? Do consumers look at a $5 blouse and think they are getting a good deal for a quality product or seeing a cheaply made product that will probably be ruined after its first wash.

Most people see low prices as lower quality, and an entire store that prides itself on the low cost of goods can usually only provide this perception. So far it hasn’t weakened their image considering Forever 21 earned 2.6 billion in 2011. I suspect most of this income comes from young, fashionable, low-income individuals looking for what is trendy in the here and now. The epitome of American thought, only thinking about the present and not much in the long run. But is this such a bad way to be seen? At this point I think most people just prefer low prices over ANYTHING, even if it comes with frugal return policies and cheaply made products. Companies like Vans and Nike take advantage of this newfound industry of price sensitive buyers. Offering lower priced products within stores like Kohls give them the ability to reach a whole new market but with the perception that the quality is good since it is a “name brand”. In the fashion world we all have our key pieces that we will splurge on and to look fashionable on a budget you have to make some sacrifices right?