Archive for January 31st, 2006

The Future of Fashion Advertising: Branding or Direct Response?

Danielle over at Final Fashion wrote an interesting post about how runway shows are a money-losing proposition and only really appropriate for Big Name designers.  Fashion Merchandising 101 told me that runway shows, while Glamorous, are staged more for branding purposes than for actually directly generating sales.  I’m generalizing here, but runway shows are staged for the press (so they’ll write about you and promote you to Jane Q. Public) and for your top clients (so they’ll feel special and buy more of your clothes!).

As Bob McCarthy pointed out in his blog, The Direct Response Coach, the advertising world is made up of two groups with very different philosophies: branding and direct response.  The fashion world, for better or for worse, is heavily weighted towards the branding camp.  Why?  Well, fashion depends heavily on perception, and having a strong brand gives a product a leg up in the marketplace.  And what makes branding so enticing to fashion companies is that building a strong brand allows them to elevate consumers’ perception of their entire product portfolioall in one fell swoop.  When you consider the number of products that are in a typical fashion line (from dozens to hundreds), branding as an advertising philosophy makes a whole lot of sense.

Direct response, however, is the reigning queen of the online advertising space.  What’s so interesting about Internet advertising (as compared to offline advertising) is its inherent measurability.  If you run an ad through Google AdWords or through Yahoo! Search Marketing, for example, it’s possible to see how many people saw that ad, how many people clicked on your ad, and how many people bought something/registered for something/etc on your site.  You can calculate your return on investment (or ROI) for your advertising dollars.  You can quantify how effective your advertisements are and make adjustments as needed.

Branding vs. Direct Response.  In the fashion world, branding (at least offline) is the clear winner as I write this in January 2006.  But what about the future?  Will branding continue its reign?  Or will direct response win out in the end?

I don’t pretend to know the answer to this question, but I’ll share with you my humble prediction.  The forces that make branding so enticing today will continue to exert influence in the years to come.  But the allure of direct response’s measurability will also have an impact on how fashion advertising budgets are spent.  There’s something to be said for a quantifiable ROI.  Already, some fashion companies are listing their products on direct response-type sites like and  A quick glance at women’s apparel on showed items from Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdales, J. Crew, and Kenneth Cole.  I predict that we’ll see a significant increase in this direct response advertising, but we won’t see that jump until we see more specialized fashion shopping search sites.  That is, it’s not going to be a or a that’s going to see this gain (unless they radically improve the way their sites work for the apparel category).  Instead, I think it’s going to be a specialized fashion search vertical.

What do you think about the future of fashion advertising?  Branding?  Direct response?  Or both?

2 comments January 31st, 2006

Prada Nylon Stripe ID Hobo

Prada Brown Nylon Stripe ID HoboI think I’ve been bitten by the Prada bug. 

A girl can dream though…

$676 at Bluefly.

Add comment January 31st, 2006

Ready Made Outfit: Trekking the Outdoors | Men’s Edition

You took your girlfriend’s “I’ll like anything you plan for Valentine’s Day, sweetie. The important thing is that we’re together…" too literally, and now the plans go something like: take a hike up San Bruno Mountain, have a picnic in an open field, hike a bit more, play soccer at the peak, hike back down, and rent and ride bicycles. It’s obvious you’ve turned a day of love into a day of your love of sports.

All we have to say is you had better look darn good that day… or you’ll be getting comfy with the living room couch come nightfall.

Getting some action = Corny Tee + Khaki Shorts + Sneakers + Bouquet of Red Roses.


\"I\'ve got horns for you\" Tee

Paul Frank Horns for You Tee | $28 at Urban Outfitters


Stock Flight Short

Stock Flight Short | $49 at Urban Outfitters


Asics shoes

Asics Canvas Mexico | $80 Urban Outfitters


Two Dozen Long Stemmed Roses

Two Dozen Long Stemmed Red Roses | $79.99 at 1-800 Flowers

Add comment January 31st, 2006


January 2006
« Dec   Feb »

Posts by Month

Posts by Category