The world’s leading fast fashion brands continue to flock to China in search of growth. Zara, H&M, and GAP have begun their expansion over a period of five years, and a number of Chinese people have begun to accept the concept of fast fashion as their lifestyle. The recognition and acknowledgement of these foreign fast fashion brands by roadside billboards or light boxes make young Chinese realize the existence of fast fashion and imparts the enjoyment in the feeling of freshness through frequent change of wardrobe. Those who cannot afford luxury but also do not want to give up their pursuit of fashion finally get what they want from these fast fashion brands. They are happy to have more for less.
From Intangible to Tangible
At the point of introducing brand to global market, Forever 21(F21) took great advantage of the Internet and social media. F21 launched official websites in 7 countries and regions around the world for online sales, including US, UK, Canada, Japan, Korea, China and Europe. On the websites, not only are the languages and clothing styles different from each other, but also the promotional activities vary in order to appeal to the local customers. Between the home webpage in China and in the US: The scrolling headline about discount and free shipping attract anyone who opens the Chinese website home page. New arrivals and best-selling products are listed as much as possible on the home page. Besides, from the site style to the clothing style, F21 uses colorful floating pictures and varicolored links to cater to the Asian’s preferences. The US webpage, however, focuses new arrivals on the home banner advertisement and hits the “euramerican” style of clothing with black and metallic colors. Simplified website designs provides more freedom for the online shoppers to take a closer look at the goods by clicking the categories shown on the top of the screen.
Through the online sales, F21 built a solid foundation in the overseas markets and made full preparation for the local physical stores. Through this way, F21 understands preferences in the local market, and what issues might be created by poor decision-making. All of these components will eventually “empower” the public relations.
Therefore, when the physical store opens, there is a huge impetus for those fans who have converted for F21 for a long time to experience the happiness of direct contact with the brand and the corporate culture including the decoration of the store, shopping environment, even the service. In terms of F21, it developed several activities in the shop to make the audience feel distinguished from their online shopping experience. The opening ceremony for F21 in Beijing, except for a series of discount and coupon stimulating the purchase, one of the most impressive activities on the opening day was a “free fitting fashion show” where brand fans were able to dress up with clothes and accessories chosen from the store and pose for a photograph in front of cameras. This was the very first time for these fans to put on the clothes from their favorite brand and to be models for themselves. They are no longer sitting in front of a screen and clicking the webpage with their mouse; instead, they can browse in the store and pick up the clothes they like and put them on. Together with the loud music and the T-stand, the store looked like the scene of mini runway and it attracted thousands of people and local media. From the intangible to tangible, this activity helps the public experience the product more directly and hypes the brand as well.
More Than Clothes for Young Ladies
In addition, the direct contact changed the public’s misunderstanding of the brand- Forever 21. According to its name, it seems the brand only sells clothes for young ladies aged around 21, but now F21 has already embraced accessories, jewelry and cosmetics under its own original brand. The four-floor flagship store in Beijing is divided into several areas for men, kids and women from office ladies to teenage girls. The fourth floor is all about lingerie, shoes and accessories. Under the brand extension, F21 creates new products, including shoes, bags, lingerie, cosmetics, and so forth and broaden its target market. Therefore, F21 enters new product categories different from that of the parent brand. Consider the extension for F21 to accessories, shoes and bags as “category extension”, the extension of F21 for men and kids can be regarded as a “line extension,” where the parent brand targets new markets segment within a product category currently served by the parent brand. With the extension, F21 reaches out to a larger potential customer base and aims to satisfy their broad needs. The opening ceremony leaves a direct and strong impact on the public and helps the audience build up new recognition towards the brand. The role for PR in this event can be perceived as an intermediary for conveying information to the public, eliminating misunderstanding and propagandizing the brand.
Back in the industrialized world, however, transaction matters most, conversation less, and relationship least. F21, in this case, built up a relationship with the audience in the Beijing’s opening ceremony with slogan rich in affinity and activities full of interaction. Consumers feel involved into this event and cared for by the brand service. As one of the customers in the opening day, what attracted me is more than the lower price, but the flagships store itself and the products of the brand as well. To those who are not familiar with F21, its lower price can be only perceived as an attraction for them to step into the store, to browse the commodities, and to become one of the potential consumers for the brand. But those who have heard of F21 or even have shopped online or in its overseas stores are expecting more: They are looking forward to the different goods’ style designed especially for Chinese customers and, on the other hand, enjoy following up the global fashion trend by purchasing or window-shopping the overseas brand. On the basis of this relationship, conversation between the brand and the customers as well as among the customers will ultimately result in more benefit in transaction.
There is a link of 5 tips of shopping at F21. Fashionaholics, share your online shopping experience at F21 with me~~ I am looking forward to hearing from you guys~