Magazine article Marketing

OPINION: Fashion Chains' Savvy Strategy to Squeeze out Larger Shoppers

Magazine article Marketing

OPINION: Fashion Chains' Savvy Strategy to Squeeze out Larger Shoppers

Article excerpt

On occasions being both a professor of marketing and a consumer puts me in a position of inner turmoil. Take buying a pair of jeans. Despite retaining a relatively discerning eye for the latest fashions, I am also the proud owner of a 36 inch waist. This can often make buying the latest trendy jeans difficult because, in my experience, the latest trendy brands rarely exceed a 32.

It seems I am not alone. Toast, a consumer organisation set up to represent women who are size 16 plus, launched a campaign last week to name and shame some of Britain's leading high-street stores. Stores such as Zara, Top Shop and Kookai only offer their fashions up to a size 16, despite the fact that the average UK woman is a 14 - only one size smaller.

Kookai claimed that as the store specialises in skimpier clothing, anything offered above a size 16 would not sell because 'many larger people want to cover up more'. Apart from providing a splendid example of how not to handle corporate communications, Kookai is also playing a nice game of reversing supply and demand. It's pretty difficult for a size 20 woman to wear a crop top if nobody is willing to manufacture one in her size.

What Kookai and its peers are up to is morally quite wrong. Clearly larger women have every right to wear what their leaner friends are wearing.

But who cares about morals, let's talk about sales. Intriguingly, the '16 and below' strategy is also equally flawed in economic terms. Despite protestations to the contrary, the high- street stores are fully aware that a very lucrative market exists beyond the size 16 boundary. …

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