Big Biba London: On the critical success factors in fashion marketing (2)
Olufemi Adedamola Oyedele, MPhil. in Construction Management, managing director/CEO, Fame Oyster & Co. Nigeria, is an expert in real estate investment, a registered estate surveyor and valuer, and an experienced construction project manager. He can be reached on +2348137564200 (text only) or firstname.lastname@example.org
January 30, 2023222 views0 comments
Continued from last week
Biba’s opportunity lay in its grotesque building which made it an attraction to people from all walks of life. It boasted a large area of space for social interaction and customers sometimes had the intention of meeting somebody before they ‘bumped’ into products that attracted them. The products were affordable and the designs cut across all classes of people. Biba was a one-stop shop offering different types of products for daily consumption. Its products included perfumes, shoes, hats, creams, furniture, etc. The colour combination was perfect and the location of the outlet on Kensington High Street was strategic. The brands were also from a designer who knew the rudiment of the business. As a fashionista, Babara knew what the people wanted. Biba controlled the fashion world at a rate that was difficult to imagine. The prices were right.
But Biba refused to branch-out and reach out to the other cities of the United Kingdom. It refused to adopt globalisation which “is the phenomenon of succeeding business” (Daniels, J. D., Radebaugh, L. H. and Sullivan, D. P in “Globalization and Business”, published by Prentice Hall, London in 2002). According to D. L. Portolese, in “Generalisational buying motivations for fashion” in Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, Volume 7, Issue 1, published in 2002, “Luxury retailers pro-actively expand abroad to derive benefit from exclusive brands or innovative products and specify “the brand” as being a key motivator for fashion internationalisation”. Frasers Group and Dorothy Perkins saw Biba as a local venture and decided to sell their stake. “The emergence of global fashion has transformed the way fashion is perceived in the contemporary world” (N. Azuma and J. Fernie in “Fashion in the globalised world and the role of virtual networks in intrinsic fashion design”, published in 2003 by Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, Volume 7, Issue 4, on pages 413-427).
Biba refused to adapt to change in the global fashion market. The management of Biba was uncooperative and there was misunderstanding of concepts. Management attitudes can decide where retailers expand. The new partners in Biba were not mindful of the contributions of Babara Hulanicki and how she worked. Babara was not recognized as the “engine-room” of the organisation. There was no Strategic Plan to guide the operations of the organisation and the organisation lacked direction. B. Zavrsnik in “Critical success factors for international fashion retailers entering foreign markets” in Journal of Fibres and Textiles in Eastern Europe published in 2007, Volume 15, Issue 4, stated that fashion businesses profit a lot if they can (a) Have few middlemen between their products and the end-users, (b) Buy in large volumes, (c) Have a broad, in-depth knowledge of design, fashion and textiles, (d) Buy the right products from the right markets, (e) Being cost-conscious at every stage of production, and (f) Have efficient distribution means. These are factors of efficient production in the fashion business.
J. Fernie and N. N. Azuma in 2004, in “The changing nature of Japanese fashion: Can quick response improve supply chain efficiency?”, European Journal of Marketing, Volume 38, Issue 7, pages 790-808, stated that “The offshore migration of fashion manufacturing from established markets to offshore countries, and the increasingly complex nature of fashion consumption has played a crucial role in transforming the way fashion is perceived in the contemporary world. Globalisation of the fashion industry has allowed consumers to gain easier access to the in-vogue style at an increasingly inexpensive price”. B. Zavrsnik in 2007 in “Critical success factors for international fashion retailers entering foreign markets”, Journal of Fibres and Textiles in Eastern Europe, Volume 15, Issue 4, also stated that “before establishing stores in a new market, H&M conducts a thorough analysis of such factors as demographics, employment, purchasing power and purchasing behaviour. The shopping style of the catchment area of the outlet must be known as well as the population and the shopping quality.
According to Mrs Sarah Brown, the wife of the then British Prime Minister, at the Elle Style Award on February 22, 2010, “Fashion is an industry so well known for its creative tensions; it’s larger than life characters; and the obsessions with each season’s collections”. Fashion is about vogue and a good fashion designer must predict the trend and dictate the taste.
The critical success factors of fashion marketing are: 1. Strategic Management – Strategic management is the continuous planning, monitoring, analysis and assessment of all that is necessary for an organisation to meet its goals and objectives. Babara Hulanicki was a Fine Artist and a fashionista who knew everything about fashion design. Biba was a pace-setter in fashion production and went for cheap dull materials affordable by the masses.
2. Marketing Mix (The seven P’s) – (a) Product (b) Price (c) Place (d) Promotion (e) People (f) Process (g) Physical environment.
3. Branding – The Biba logo played a crucial part in Biba’s success. The logo was gold and black that reflected the growing taste in youth for art deco. Anthony Little designed the logo, painted the Biba sign above the shop and blacked out all the windows to create a look for Biba. The Biba logo was reconstructed in various ways to be appropriate for all the different products. Every product carried the Biba logo on it. The labels showing size, colour and price all resembled a similar style. Biba was the first to set a standard for brand marketing and the first high street store to create a look for itself. Everything: from clothes to food, to wall-paper, carried the logo, creating an immediately recognisable identity from any piece sold at the store.
4. The 5 m’s of organisation – (a) Management (b) Mission (c) Money (d) Manpower (e) Machineries.
5. Business Development – There should be adequate attention for business development anchored on a Strategic Plan. The business should always aim to reduce cost of production, improve quality, capture more markets or reduce time of production. The roles of the employees should be evaluated and stated. Motivation of employees should not be relegated. Conflict resolution methods should be in the strategic plan.
Biba became a success story as a result of the expertise of its founders and the hard work of the workers. The shareholders who joined the founders of Biba, in their development of Biba did not realise the importance of Strategic Plans and did not have any in place. The strategic plan states the job descriptions of all employees and how the company would be run. There should have been a clause in the deed of agreement between the partners stipulating the party that can manage the company. This lack of agreement on roles to be performed by the shareholders led to Biba’s failure. While some fashion outlets like John Lewis, George and Top Shop established as one-man businesses still exist till today, Biba became extinct because of the failure of British Land to appreciate the expertise of Babara Hulanicki. She was the custodian of the designs and the person on which the whole idea lay.
The company should have evolved a mission statement stating the future aspirations of the organisation and a succession plan. The British Land organisation should have allowed the original management of Biba to continue with their strategies.
Fashion marketing is still a profitable venture especially as it controls about 23 percent of the total consumable-goods market by amount in the world. After Biba’s exit, over five popular fashion outlets don the Kensington High Street. Luxury British fashion retailers like Harvey Nichols are having a profit rocket. The Harvey Nichols Group reported a 102 percent jump in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to $281.7 million for the year ended March 31, 2018, and revenues increased by nine percent to £229 million, while EBITDA remained flat at £41 million for the 2019 year ending.
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