The definition of Fast Fashion. Fast Fashion has been explored within the context of supply chain management (Ko and Kincade, 1997; Fiorito et al., 1995,1998; Sohal et al., 1998; Perry and Sohal, 2000; Guercini,2001; Azuma, 2002; Mattila et al., 2002; Birtwistle et al., 2003; Lee and Kincade, 2003). According to Barnes, L. and Lea-Greenwood, G. (2006, p259) “fast fashion is a business strategy which aims to processes involved in the buying cycle and lead times for getting new fashion product into stores, in order to satisfy consumer demand at its peak.” Saren,M. (2006) points out fast fashion refers to the time scale that exists between the emergence of a new fashion trend and the time it takes for a company to respond to that trend by having the product available in the market for sale. A commitment to fast fashion puts considerable strain on an organization. It requires that they are totally up to date with consumer trends and developments as these emerge and that they be fully prepared to respond to these developments with new product ranges in advance of their competition (Saren, M, 2006). Kotler, P. and Armstrong, G. (2010) states fast fashion is the company can recognize and respond to fashion trends very quickly, create products that mirror the trends, and get those products onto shelves much faster and more frequently than the industry norm.
The characteristics of Fast Fashion
In recent years, the fast fashion rise rapidly to become the new bright spot in the world’s clothing market. Fast fashion is a term used to describe clothing collections which are based on the most recent fashion trends presented at Fashion Week in both the spring and the autumn of every year (Muran, L, 2007). One of the biggest retail success stories of the past decade has been the phenomenal rise of fast fashion, a shopping trend spurred by rapidly changing styles and the ready availability of cheap brands (Barrie, L, 2010). The characteristics of fast fashion are ‘fast’ and ‘fashion’, by capturing fashion quickly, launch new fashion design quickly, product updates quickly at a lower price to meet consumer’s demand for access to fashion. The growth in the fast fashion industry “seems to be phenomenal” (Arvind Singhal, 2010). The reason of the development of fast fashion increasing and soon occupied the market, the main characteristics are: compared with the traditional clothing brands, the product development of fast fashion to the market is short, with the flow and not create trends, seasonal design rather than to go further the design, focusing on breadth rather than depth of products and with frequent new product in the market. Fast fashion can also be treated as the inevitable backlash by consumers against the homogenization of the retail industry (Mya, F, 2006). Fast fashion, an evolving retail trend that has store chains filling their racks with new, gotta-have-it merchandise (Erin, W, 2004). The aim of fast fashion is specifically at a culture of rapid purchasing and disposal (Fast Fashion, 2007). Fast fashion may be moving too fast for customers to keep up (Wilson, E and Barbaro, M, 2006). As everything is getting faster, which including fashion, but Robin Anson (2010) argues that there are still few things that influence fast fashion, he says that “fast fashion can’t happen without facilitators, while low prices might encourage more purchases, to get low prices you need low labour costs, low raw material costs, and high productivity – but the quality must still be good.” According to Lovejoy, J (2007), the characteristics of fast fashion are: Primary emphasis is speed with fashion
and quality secondary; Full cycle from concept to store is streamlined; Quick daily, weekly decisions; Continuous flow of products; Consumer pull, quick replenishment and emphasis on reacting to consumer. Hines (2004, p 89-90) identified a number of characteristics of fast fashion, which are fast store throughput time which in term attracts increased footfall through more frequent store visits, replenishment lead times are not an issue because retail organisations operating in the fast fashion sector do not replenish but rather move on to something new- hence fast fashion is new fashion.
The roles of brand
According to Clifton and Simmons (2003, p6) “branding needs to start with a clear point of view on what an organisation should be about and how it will deliver sustainable competitive advantage; then it is about organising all product, service and corporate operations to deliver that.” Brand is a name in every consumer’s mind (Mooij, 1998) and it is characterised by a noticeable name or symbol which can differentiate the goods and services from the rivals’ (Aaker, 1991; Keller, 1998). A brand may be contains the various of the following: name, letters, numbers, a symbol, a signature, a shape, a slogan, a colour and a particular typeface (Clifton and Simmons, 2003). Feldwick (2002) proposed brands become associated with certain types of people, with certain occasions or emotional values. Kapferer (1992) explores brands are part of a strategy aimed at differentiating supply. Companies seek to fulfil the expectations of specific groups of customers better. Which providing an ideal combination of attributes- both tangible and intangible, practical and symbolic, visible and invisible. Kapferer (1992) also defined the brand tells why products exist, where they come from, and where they are going.
Cowley (1992) state the most successful brands continually improve or update their products to remain competitive, or to meet changed market requirements. The evidence shows that beliefs about the brand can actually affect perceptions of the physical product characteristics. Cowley (1992) also propose clothes are one of the most obvious social signs of conformity or nonconformity with a particular group, a phenomenon which of course exists separately from brands. Chernatony and McDonald (1998) point out the purpose of branding is to facilitate the organisation’s task of getting and maintaining a loyal customer base in a cost-effective manner to achieve the highest possible return on investment. Researchers agree this fact as for Zara, the loyalty customers would repeat buying their products and also willing to support them in a long-term relationship, as Zara is based on fashion but the price is not high. The characteristics of brands can be set into four different levels, they are: generic, expected, augmented and potential (Chernatony and McDonald, 1998).
Stobart (1994) propose there are three different levels of the importance of brands, firstly, they serve as a focus for consumer loyalties and therefore can be developed into assets which generate steady and reliable streams of cash flow. Secondly, the brand serves to capture the promotional investment put into it. Thirdly, brands can be of critical strategic importance to their owners. In general, brands enable manufactures to communicate directly with consumers regardless of the actions of the middleman. Although brand is very important, but most importantly, it is essential for their consumers. Stobart (1994) also explore brands allow consumers to shop with confidence in what is an increasingly complex world. The brand offers the consumer a guarantee of quality, value and product satisfaction. As long as the brand keeps its part of the bargain the consumer will continue to support it.
Aaker (1996) explore a brand personality can be defined as the set of human characteristics associated with a given brand, consumers usually interact with brands as if they were people, especially when the brands are attached to such meaningful products as clothes. In dealing with people, ‘personality’ describes the ways in which we anticipate an individual will behave in particular circumstances (Feldwick, 2002). In general, if a brand does not have a humanity symbol and the meaning, then this brand will lose its personality. Brand personality is the brand of human performance and an important part of brand identity, it has a unique brand of personalised features and characteristics, and it can bring a powerful brand association and rich connotation of the brand. A brand personality is developed to enhance the appeal of a brand to consumers (Gelder, 2003). VanAuken (2002) propose each of brand should choose an intended personality based upon the brand’s aspirations and its customers’ current perceptions of the brand. The product-related characteristics can be primary drivers of a brand personality (Aaker, 1996), and the attributes of the product that will always influence by the brand personality. The main reason of using brand personality is the brand personality can help the people by increasing their understanding of people’s perceptions and attitudes to the brand, compare to a differentiating brand identity, guiding the communication effort and creating brand equity (Aaker, 1996).
From the competition market point of view, the reason why the fast fashion industry like Zara is favored by the consumers because of the operational model in accordance with the fast fashion brand that provide a rich, diverse products and improve the selection of the consumers in fashion. And on the other hand, Zara is much cheaper compared with the slow fashion. Currently, the basic strategies that to achieve fast fashion are: more variety, small batch, networking and informatisation etc.
Ries and Trout (1981) were the first to coin the term ‘positioning. And had nothing to do with the products, services or organisations, but with the ability to command a position in consumers’ minds, distinct from the competition. Kapferer (1997) considers positioning as a way of emphasizing the distinctive characteristics of the brand that make it different from its competitors and appealing to the public. Gelder (2003) defines brand positioning as a way of demonstrating a brand’s advantage over and differentiation from its competition. Brand positioning is a rather functional affair, with an emphasis on product and service features, benefits, usage, value and ability to solve problems for consumers. Aaker (1996) defined brand position is the part of the brand identity and value proposition that is to be actively communicated to the target audience and that demonstrates an advantage over competing brands.
For a clothing brand like Zara, the brand positioning is very important. The positioning for Zara in the fashion industry is ‘affordable fast fashion’ and positioned as a universal consumer market. Zara has become a world-class brand, but the success of Zara is not relying on the named designers that to create classical or popular, however, there is a close relationship of Zara’s brand positioning of “fast fashion.” Through the rapid imitation strategy, emphasis on the fast design, fast production, and quick sale and with the fastest speed in response to the market demand, as the representative of fast fashion. Zara’s targeting audiences are between ages of 20-35, because these consumers are more sensitive to fashion, but do not have the ability to buy the designer brands. Therefore, in order to meet consumers’ demand for this customer base, thus, Zara creates a fast fashion model and it was a great success in the market.
Consumer Buyer behaviour
According to Mowen, J.C and Minor, M (1998) that consumer behaviour is the study of the buying units and the exchange processes involved in acquiring, consuming, and disposing of goods, services, experiences and ideas. It is important for company to understand the consumers and their consumption, which assist consumer in their purchase decisions making. Peter, J.P., Olson, J.C. & Grunert, K.G (1999) defines consumer behaviour as “the dynamic interaction of affect and cognition, behaviour, and the environment by which human beings conduct the exchange aspects of their lives.” In other words, consumer behaviour includes consumers’ feeling, what they think and what they react for the product or service. Consumer behaviour is dynamic because the consumers are changing and evolving over time (Peter, J.P., Olson, J.C. & Grunert, K.G 1999). Blackwell et al. (2006) defined consumer behaviour is as activities people undertake when obtaining, consuming, and disposing of products and services. Consumer purchasing behavior of consumers is to meet their personal or family life that occur in the decision-making process to buy goods. The consumer buying behaviour is complex, and its purchasing behaviour is generated by its internal and external factors that influence each other to promote interaction.
The Consumer Decision Process Model
According to Blackwell et al. (2006) the consumer decision process (CDP) model “represents a road map of consumers’ minds that marketers and managers can use to help guide product mix, communication, and sales strategies.” This model defines seven steps that when consumers make their decision in order to satisfy their wants and needs, which includes need recognition, search for information, pre-purchase, purchase, consumption, post-consumption evaluation and divestment (Blackwell et al., 2006). And the goal of creating this model is to analyse how the individual sort through facts and influences to make logical and consistent decisions (Blackwell et al., 2006).
Stage one is need recognition, which occurs when an individual senses a difference between what consumers perceives to be the ideal and the actual state of affairs (Blackwell et al., 2006). First of all, consumers recognise that they have needs, it is the beginning of its decision-making process, and these needs could be caused by the functional and the psychological needs. Since many factors can stimulate awareness of needs, so companies can through the advertising to inspire consumers’ needs to new products, so they give up those old products or those no longer competitive product in the market.
Stage two is search for information. As mentioned by Solomon et al., (2006), information search is the process by which the consumer surveys their environment for appropriate data to make a reasonable decision. The information search may be internal and external. Internal is from the memory, the external is the information which comes from the environmental influences and the individual differences. The environmental influences which includes culture, social class, family or friends. Especially from friends and family, people will get the knowledge and information about the certain product and a significant portion of consumers prefer to accept other people’s advice as their shopping guide. The individual differences such as attitudes, personality, values and lifestyle.
Stage three is the pre-purchase evaluation of alternatives. In this stage, consumers are trying to find answers for their decision such as what my opinions are and what is the best for me. After the collection of certain information, consumers will evaluate variety products, and the composition of this will based on rational and the emotional components. Consumers often to judge a brand by attributes such as quantity, size, quality and price. In the pre-purchase stage, consumers often have to take account many factors. Therefore, if a firm can understand the important evaluation factors for consumers, through the some promotion such as lower the price or provide some special offers, then it is possible to obtain more consumers and to get the competitive advantages.
Stage four comes to purchase, as Blackwell et al., (2006) state there are two phases which donating to the consumer decision-making process, the first phase is consumers choose one retailer to another retailer, such as catalogs, internet and direct sales. The second phase is in-store choice, which influenced by salesperson, product displays, electronic media and point-of-purchase (POP) advertising, Alternatively, after the consumer product evaluation, consumers will male the decision of which products to buy, and to take buying action. However, this is often the attitudes that will influence by other and some unexpected factors. It may because of the consumer evaluation and the decision-making process that deferred or canceled the purchase decision, at this time, the consumer’s purchase decision-making process will stop.
Stage five consumption, stage six post-consumption evaluation and stage seven divestment are all the type of the post-purchase stage. After purchasing the product, the decision-making process has not terminated, because in the initial process of using the product, consumers will look back and measure to see if there were any problems or dissatisfy of the product. Blackwell et al., (2006) state post-evaluation is a sense of satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Satisfaction occurs when consumers’ expectations are matched by perceived performance. Dissatisfaction occurs when experiences and performance fall short of expectations. Divestment is about consumers’ disposal, recycling for the environmental concerns and firms remarketing.
The purpose of the research study is to investigate the influence of fast fashion on consumer buyer behaviour and their decision making on a case study of Zara, mainly through the brand personality and brand positioning and the consumer buyer behaviour as well as the decision-making process. The objective of the research is to enhance the consumer consumptions in fast fashion industry, in order to explore the consumer’s preferences and choices. Moreover, the research was also trying to know the potential of the fast fashion industry and expand into a new era. As well as through the consumer’s purchasing behaviour, how the fast fashion industry increases their market share and gets the competitive advantages.