Niche Market Analysis

Nailing the Niche Market

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Brands are more than just a name for a product. If there is a brand that delivers a fantasy to it’s customer that overtakes practicality, the loyalty margins are much higher.

The labels featured in this article embody a certain kind of brand essence which has allowed them to carve out a following likened to team spirit. One of youth, luxury and freedom. Although the labels are classified in different positions of the market in the luxury spectrum, it’s a defining cut, finish and price that ultimately attracts their target customer and maintains loyalty to each brand. Manufacturing, online presence and physical stores have been investigated to bring together a cohesive comparison of three global fashion labels aimed at a youthful market utilising high quality and innovative fabrics.

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1- Miu Miu is characterized by its avant-garde, sensual and provocative style, featuring good natured collections; perky pieces in bright colours paired with plastic rain boot high heels. Looks like these seek to evoke a luxurious sense of freedom and intimacy with attention to detail and high quality. The Miu Miu customer is one who is driven by a modern spirit of exploration and experimentation in their fashion choices.

2-The Ellery aesthetic is pared back, streamlined and sporty, with a sculptural element. Innovative fabrics of texture, print and a minimal colour palette are fundamental; whilst there is little in the way of embellishment or fussiness: shapes are simple which are combined in a playful, yet classic way, which epitomizes the Ellery girl. She is young, beautiful, chic and fashion-forward.

3- UNIQLO offers high-quality, casual basics at a low price to a broad range of customers, which covers men, women and children. Products from T-shirts, sweaters and pants, to jackets, underpants, singlets, and shoes are even included.
The products are basic in design, and come a variety of colours. Customers are budget conscious and enjoy a casual lifestyle.

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In past collections the consistent spirit of Miu Miu’s signature style has been echoed through semi transparent blouses tempered by dramatic contrasting colour blocks, high wasted pants, granny knit vests and lightly quilted metallic pea coats that give Miu Miu its avant-garde and sensual feel coveted by youthful style mavens with deep pockets such as Rita Ora, Liv Tyler, Olivia Palermo, Kirsten Dunst and Jessica Alba.

Miu Miu brand sits in a high end luxury position in the market because of its unprecedented manufacturing techniques blended with experimental design. From raw materials – sourcing from the top suppliers, garnering with hand sewn heavy embellishments – to presenting at international fashion calendar events, advertising in the worlds most elite style magazines and celebrity endorsement.

“Designing for me is a very complex process. There are many ideas that I want to express in one object, very often contradictory. The creative process in Miu Miu is completely different from that of Prada. Miu Miu is not as complicated and thought out as Prada. Rather than being young, Miu Miu is immediate. Prada is very sophisticated and considered; Miu Miu is much more naive. The solution, when I am working on Miu Miu, has to come immediately, instinctively, spontaneously with whatever is available at the moment. If I think three times, I stop.” MIUCCIA PRADA

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MIU MIU has 12 in-house production sites. This production capability is of strategic importance. Enabling the brand to retain and upgrade technical skills under their own roof, allowing the company to have more control over quality, production costs and timing, rather than investing in external manufacturing.

The Essence of Miu Miu is perpetuated at every touch point. Stores are based in the high streets of major cities and feature an entrance with a large glass display window. At the front of the store a lush handbag collection is a polychromatic display of flashy gold hardware and supple ruched leather. Mod plush carpeting and embroidered granny-apple-green wallpaper with plexi glass shelving with mirrored plinths and walls highlight the irregular cuts, daring colours and luxuriant textures. These interior elements bring a spirited sense of freedom and intimacy to the miu miu store.

This presentation of goods married with customer care assures the customer that they are paying a high price for exclusivity and status. It becomes an investment in style and a belief that by buying these products, constitutes the customers position in society and therefore worth it.

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Brand extensions exist in the form of clutches, handbags, sunglasses, shoes and perfume. Along with a collaboration with Miranda Judy for the creation of the Somebody App.

Collections are communicated into the online community through up to the minute live stream fashion shows, attended by the world’s most elite media, top tier bloggers and celebrities. As the show is happening, coverage begins instantly via social media. Furthermore, through online exclusive releases previews and offers, loyal followers of the brand feel like they are part of a sensual avant-guard club.

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The Ellery brand sits in a niche high-end fashion classification. Available globally on a concessional platform throughout up market department stores such as Myer and David Jones.

The Ellery signature look is one of a streamlined minimalism look streamlined by a sporty feel, yet has a sculptural aspect. Innovative fabrics of texture and a minimal colour palette are fundamental; past collections have transitioned between heavily embellished to minimal fussiness: the unabashedly voluminous, shapes that swim loosely around the body, give the Ellery girl who wears these clothes a look that is inestimably cool. She is young, beautiful, chic and fashion-forward.

Garments are well made locally with quality fabrics sourced from Italy, France, Japan and Switzerland such as triple silk organza, lurex, high quality soft-cool silks, wool blends slinky boucle and leather, featuring subtle embroidered metal plate embellishments. This method of manufacturing ensures that the brand is exclusive and small scale – slow fashion.

“I wanted to link everything back through the colour palette, the texture and the print, as well as the concept of coupling and things working in pairs.” KYM ELLERY.

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Ellery achieves branding consistency through adhering to rigorous department store ordering schedules and by participation in national and select small scale international runway shows. This representation combined with local celebrity endorsement and national magazine campaigns hold a picture of luxury to customers by assuring permanence in the market. This approach works but is not scalable. That’s not to say that this is a bad thing, on the contrary, it is what makes the customer feel that they are buying something rare and individual, being a catalyst for a cult following and cherishing that item that not everyone can afford.

Ellery is a label that is popularised by Australian Celebrities. Since launching her label in 2007, Kym Ellery’s celebrity fans have included Australian It-Girls Jennifer Hawkins, Lara Bingle, Ruby Rose, Natalie Imbruligia, Jess Hart, Abbey Lee, and Theresa Palmer and international stars Rhianna and Dita Von Teese,Nicole Richie, Fergie, Georgia Jagger, Eva Mendes.

Centered on “garments for special occasions”, with strong signature silhouettes echoing the Balenciaga esque shapes from the 60s, Kym’s oversized cocoon like tunic tops to the leather skorts and midi tops, from the origami folds and karate influences, oversized bell sleeves and plunging necklines, paired with a spirited combination of textures and uniqueembelishment and accessories, Ellery maintains a muted colour palette punctuated with prints throughout collections.

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In March 2010, Ellery collaborated with Sportsgirl to develop a youth orientated capsule collection. As well as Vittoria to create a keepsake coffee tin which includes a pack of Vittoria espresso ground coffee. The most successful collaboration has been with Graz Sunglasses often making appearances as the editors favorite picks in Australian fashion magazines such as Vogue and Elle Magazines.

Originally founded in 1949 as a textiles company, now headed by an audacious clothing salesman-Tadashi Yanai- Uniqlo, the Japanese high street fashion brand has a commitment to providing quality clothing for everyone, irrespective of occupation, nationality, age or gender. From a design standpoint, it’s about the exclusion of embellishments and extra detailing that ensures clothing is at its most simple version in order for garments to be versitile and remain on high rotation in the closet.

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Uniqlo has 1300 outlets in major city centers across the globe and an average store size of 89,000 square feet. Tracking annual sales at $12 Billion USD, Uniqlo had 9% of the market share in the world (2013). Tadashi Yanai has no plans to slow down and is effectively blitzing the globe. Taking a noble standpoint to dressing the masses in good quality basic style clothing and pairing components to create individual expression.

Going to Uniqlo feels a little less like shopping for clothes than visiting Ikea, but that’s kind of the point. “We think it is not fashion,” Yanai says. “It is clothes. It is parts. Therefore, you combine the parts differently to create your own unique expression.” TADASHI YANAI

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Uniqlo does not show on runways and pays little attention to trends, rather creating an online community called UNIIQLOOK where consumers can view a gallery of everyday people wearing Uniqlo products and integrating the clothes to suit individual style. Consumers are engaged with the brand and actively promote products while taking a simple #SELFIE Tailoring perfectly to the brand aesthetic of basic clothing that comes to life when the wearer creates a look that communicates individual style.

Uniqlo works closely with manufacturers to develop and test innovative fabrics proposing performance features that has a heat reaining function such as; HEATTECH. In effect clothes disapate moisture while keeping wearers warm enough to not have to put on extra layers in cooler months.

To do this, Uniqlo works closely with reputable Japanese textile suppliers and foreign manufacturing facilities. Planning, material development, manufacturing, marketing and sales are vertically integrated (to become a manufacturing retailer).

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Collaboration between celebrities and sport stars are prominent in advertising and constantly evolving. From Novak Djokovic, Adam Scott, Orlando bloom, Susan Sarrandon, Charlize Theron and national icons relevant to each country which Uniqlo operates. Recently Uniqlo in New York collaborated with the MOMA to release a low cost Art Icon Tshirt range featuring Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jackson Pollock, Keith Haring Ryan McGinness, and Sarah Morris

Uniqlo invests its money in generating values and communicating its innovative features to market. Products are promoted via TV, newspapers, flyers as well as email to introduce new limited edition or seasonal lines and to invite customers into store for special offers.

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Fashion globalisation means that everything is available in many countries and information on what designers and companies are doing is up to the minute. From the moment a collection is released, the design, inspiration and energy put into these ranges is thrust into the gaze of
the internet.

Thanks to social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it is important now, more than ever to send a clear message about the brand to ensure stability and consistency to current the target market. Each of the following brands conduct the online identity in individual ways. The message that each fashion house sends out through their social media is clear in comparison to each other.

Miu Miu has a holistic approach to the website. Reaching the customer base through runway reveals, lookbooks, video musings with an online component where consumers can purchase accessories only. Supporting social media platforms echo a clear and consistent message about the Miu Miu aesthetic. All social media streams are maintained daily in a way that reminds the customer “we’re here for you and we’re reliable”

While the Ellery website has the latest campaign, consumers have the choice of buying directly from the Ellery site or can be directed away from the website to 22 other online stockists. Facebook and Twitter have mismatching landing images and backgrounds. Each platform is used rarely and there appears to be minimal integration online. Instagram has 3 different accounts linked to Ellery and proves confusing to followers, possibly resulting in brand diffusion. This could seem uncertain and unreliable to consumers who are looking for more engagement with a brand they love.

Uniqlo has social media and websites that are country specific, therefore using local celebrities and adjusting advertising to the relevant climate. Highly active on social media by posting 4 times a day on facebook and 2 hourly via twitter, Uniqlo aims to attract and engage the tech savvy and selfie takers by promoting Uniqlook. Collaborations with Pharell Williams and new store openings as well as staff features are highly circulated.

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The essence of a brand has for many years been upheld by the reaction and relationships between the worlds best press, models and photographers who review and interpret the story that designers communicate. Since the communication cycle has sped up, runways are no longer for just the press but more so for consumers to remain inspired and informed. Bloggers also play an important role in critiquing and actively formulating public opinion.

In essence everyone knows everything right away. A wave of “click and buy” consumers are now ready to pre order stock before stock hits the showroom, which is why it is of utmost importance to remain up to date and relevant to your loyal customers and be able to attract a growing audience.

Remaining visually forward and consistent must be considered as important as a runway show. The online component is an extension to the brand that is as relevant as a bricks and mortar store but not a replacement or substitute. A place where customers can reach the brand any time of day, a place of permanence and certainty.

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