Visual Perceptual Map of the Mainstream Womenswear Market in Australia
Reviewing, assessing, and comparing brands, especially when they are in direct competition with one another, is a key role of marketing professionals. The aim of this paper is to provide a digital and visual perceptual map that details the position of the following six fashion brands operating in Australia. The report will focus on Gucci, Hermes, Dior, Aje, Alice McCALL, and Bec + Bridge, representing the mainstream womenswear market in Australia. The paper will provide an evaluation of each brands positioning and status alongside each other, incorporating three brand positioning variables.
Image 1: Womenswear
Brand Positioning Variables
Image 2: Variant designs
Often, brands are compared on the basis of customer value, preferences, and price (Papista, Chrysochou, Krystallis, & Dimitriadis, 2018; Yi, Zhao, & Joung, 2018). In this report, the focus is shifted to availability and ideology/worldview of the brands. Availability means that a brand will be weighed against how available it is to a market, whether it applies an exclusivity approach or it is based on mass market strategies (Chailan, 2018). The worldview is a unique way of comparing and positioning brands by looking at whether a brand is focused on retaining traditions or whether it is more progressive and accepting of new designs and trends. These variables are chosen for their uniqueness and the novelty they bring into the world of marketing as far as making perceptual maps goes. To review, assess, and compare the six brands, brand positioning variables will be used including fashion forwardness, heritage focused, exclusivity, and mass market orientation.
Combined Perceptual Map
Combining the elements of availability and the worldview, map 3 below best places each of the six brands to a position that defines its strategy. Exclusivity, mass market, fashion forwardness, and heritage orientation are presented in a combined view for Gucci, Hermes, Dior, Aje, Alice McCall, and Bec + Bridge.
Map 1: Combined availability versus ideology positions
Below is a breakdown of how Map 1 was achieved.
Fashion forwardness in the fashion world looks at predicting future trends and creating products that will suit/fit into the trends (Cavender & Lee, 2018). For example, a fashion forward design may include a prediction of hand bags for men in the near future. It is therefore a variable within the fashion industry that defines modernity and observing social trends to predict the future. It is the opposite of a brand that is heritage focused. Brands focusing on modernity are also bridging the gap between what the current consumer considers fashionable and what can be expected in the near future. In the Australian womenswear market, these two variables have a significant following. The Australian brands, Aje, Alice McCALL, and Bec + Bridge, are more modern and fashion forward.
Image 3: Fashion forward brand positioning
Image 4: Heritage focused design
Fashion products and brands for women are expanding rapidly and consumers demands are becoming more precise. There is a huge demand for brands to maintain uniqueness in its brand positioning in order to attract and retain their target markets. Heritage brands have their own unique markets made up of older consumers who are attracted to the traditional methods of design and the meaning of different attire. Brands such as Gucci, Hermes, and Dior have remained fairly rigid in terms of changing their product positioning and brand positioning. These brands have a core loyal following focusing on original features that are the distinguishing elements in comparison to emerging trends. Hermes and Gucci are very heritage focused brands, followed by Dior. Heritage focused brands maintain traditions and conventions in design as a part of their brand positioning (Hlady-Rispal & Blancheton, 2020). For example, a company will focus on women clothing and avoid any diversions from the items that it has traditionally made. The two images above show the difference between a fashion forward clothing idea and a heritage focused.
Map 2: Mapping of fashion forwardness versus heritage orientation of Australian womenswear brands
From the map 2 above, Hermes, Dior, and Gucci are all heritage oriented. Gucci focuses on maintaining a tradition of excellence. Hermes and Dior have a similar strategy of maintaining their conventional business model for purposes of retaining their loyal client base.
In the same map, fashion forwardness is a strategy applied by Bec + Bridge, Alice McCall and Aje. These brands appeal to the more modern fast fashion consumer. Aje focuses on trendy wear for women in Australia, a strategy mirrored by Bec + Bridge and Alice McCall.
Mass Market Orientation
Exclusivity and mass market orientation are also key differentiation and brand positioning variables that are applied in the Australian womenswear scene. Exclusivity and mass consumer markets are different regarding the brand identity, attributes of the products, brand building process, positioning, and the target market. The mass market brands do not use the same marketing techniques as those applied for exclusive luxury brands. Mass brands are made to sell more services or products with every basic concept including price, segments, promotions, product, advertisements, and channels focusing on increasing sales. Alice McCall, Bec + Bridge, and Aje are focused on the Australian womenswear mass market. The products are made for the entire market on the basis of pricing, product, product attributes, positioning, marketing, and even promotional activities. The main intention of these brands is to maximize sales as the main strategy towards making a profit.
Image 5: Mass market orientation
On the other hand, exclusivity is all about setting a brand apart from the competition in a way that focuses only on a specific target market, usually based on premium pricing, status, and prestige. As mentioned earlier, luxury brands are more heritage focused based on the history or inspirational story of the founder. The visual keys and language used for exclusive brands differs significantly from what mass brands use. Exclusivity is created around a certain lifestyle. For example, Dior, Gucci, and Hermes products are made to suit an exclusive lifestyle, one that has been set apart by class, status, psychological factors of prestige, acceptance, and belonging. The products in an exclusive brand are made to help a consumer identify with a particular lifestyle. The focus is almost entirely on meeting the demands of exclusivity.
Image 6: Exclusivity in marketing
In mapping the six brands operating in the Australian womenswear market, map 2 below highlights the differences on the basis of what each brand focuses on.
Map 3: Mass market orientation versus exclusivity
Brands like Dior, Gucci, and Hermes have a very closed market, a niche that survives on being rare and creating a lifestyle of prestige, class, and status. Therefore, these brands are very exclusive. For Alice McCall, Aje, and Bec + Bridge, the marketing strategy is to sell to the mass marketing. They are far from being rare or creating a lifestyle element to them.
The six brands are ideally different in their approach and positioning. However, there is an observable pattern that can be defined by how rare or available the products are and their orientation in terms of remaining open to new modern ideas or retaining a sense of heritage. Overall, the luxury brands tend to be more traditional and rigid and therefore retains exclusivity while the newer brands are more open and flexible and appeals to the mass market and are more fashion forward. Gucci, Dior, and Hermes are exclusive and focus on retaining their heritage. These aspects make the brands more luxurious and rarer. On the other hand, Alice McCall, Aje, and Bec + Bridge focus on the mass market and are more modern, focusing their products on the modern consumer and the fast fashion sector.
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