Premium Mediocre – really? I can’t believe sometimes what marketers think consumers will fall for next, but as P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” (which actually wasn’t said by Barnum but by one of his acquaintances [don’t know if he was a dupe or not] who remarked this about of one of Barnum’s spiels!) Or sometimes, I wonder if I am so far removed from the retail clothing purchasing experience that this all reeks of something incredibly off?….irregular?…or simply plain ole wrong! I suppose that if the consumer had simply fallen asleep in a Rip Van Winkle way, and then woke up 50 years later to see what passes for retail clothing, they would be not only shocked, but in frank disbelief that this junk sells, and sells well!
But that’s what is happening, and it’s in one of this morning’s articles in BOF.com. Most likely you have to be a member of the site, to see the whole thing, but the upshot is that you add a few geegaws to the garment and Bob’s your uncle, you have a pricey item that sells well. Here’s the premise. You add certain descriptive phrases to a garment marketing that provide an upscale feel to the product, but without excluding anyone. So it’s premium and exclusive, but it’s not really exclusive, and it’s certainly not premium. Things like Gucci headbands, logoed Burberry keychains to almost any designer fragrances. According to the article, the main purveyors of such trend in fashion marketing are the Americans – Michael Kors, Kate Spade and Tory Burch who have all built their businesses on peddling goods in the mid-hundreds-dollars range to the masses. But these mainstay American names are not the only devotees of this sort of fashion marketing, as some of the big-name, European designers do this as well.
The whole idea is that purchasing the premium feels good, albeit for a short time, but the thinking is that the consumer can simply go out and purchase another doohickey with a premium logo or icon, or even the description is all it needs, and get the same charge or high all over again.
And then there’s me, Ripley (not a la Aliens) Van Winkle, who’s still asleep and every once in a while groggily awakens to find another new horror du jour to the clothing consumer market and then passes out again, only to awaken to yet another new scam. As in a lot of things today, when the lie is repeated often and loud enough, it becomes the truth, but in reality, it is never the truth.
What is the truth, is that I purchase – even from the big box fabric stores – higher quality fabric than I find at most retail clothing establishments sell in their stores, and make far more longer-lasting garments than most consumers really think is possible. Clothing that lasts for years, is not only unheard of, but actually thought of as an out-and-out lie. That clothing would last longer than months or one season, is thought of as a blatant falsehood, but clothing that has a designer label on it is more durable than clothing that does not have a designer icon on it. The label is everything. Individuality is nothing, expressing yourself is nothing. And for the consumer who wants to express herself, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to find clothing that will do that. It’s available, but at a very high premium (uh-oh, there’s one of those catch-phrase words), price (and I mean a REAL premium price), and only within certain locales, and very rarely if at all online. Because this product is so exclusive not many even know it’s out there. If you don’t live in one of the locations that have this product available, then how in the world can you know about it?
Exclusivity for the masses is not exclusive, but marketers would have you believe it is. This is a little like marketing a walking paraplegic or a brilliant moron (OK, well, maybe that’s not the best example – I even have some of those in my own family!). And as surmounting as this seems, it’s being done every day…….
……unless you sew.
In which case you mostly shake your head in disbelief, and go back to the stash or TNT patterns and dream of your next exclusive, premium-made garment to add to your preferred collection in your wardrobe. If only the rest of the world knew!
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