The global fashion industry is a highly evolving market with diverse needs and innumerous wants. While the tastes of consumers may differ, the aim of the luxury fashion brand industry is to associate brands with feelings of prestige, importance, status, and grandeur for customers. While the Western fashion industry is highly developed, the Nigerian fashion industry is slowly progressing into prominence as young affluent Nigerian consumers begin to appreciate Ankara fabric. However, these young affluent Nigerians are also highly comfortable with wearing Western labels, which makes it highly important for Nigerian fashion brands to appropriately brand their product lines to appeal to young Nigerian customers.
This study focuses upon the impact of branding strategies of luxury fashion brands in Nigeria upon young consumers and aims to discuss the various branding strategies used and their effectiveness. The study aims to apply special emphasis upon the brand Tiffany and Amber which is known for its uniqueness and use of luxuriant fabric and vibrant colors. With the use of a closed-ended questionnaire, the study is designed to be both qualitative and quantitative in nature as it will contact 60 Tiffany and Amber customers through email for their opinion regarding the brand prominence and branding strategies employed by Tiffany and Amber and their effectiveness. The study will conclude by providing recommendations according to the data obtained.
Chapter 1: Introduction
Fashion is an evolving term which may have a different context in every culture and may be redefined frequently. It is also a concept which may be defined differently by each individual and may be used as a source of expressing his/her personality. Hence, the fashion industry has a wide scope all over the world and is filtrated by numerous designers attempting to gain their market share by becoming the favorite of the fashion conscious (Okonkwo, 2009a).
While fashion trends evolve and the tastes of various target markets differ, designers and brands have used specific branding strategies in order to increase their appeal to consumers and influence them into purchasing their products and wearing their styles (Ahmad, 2011). As different designers target separate target markets, the fashion industry is dispersed according to consumer characteristics which include gender, age group, socio-economic class, occupation, and the type of clothing needed amongst innumerous other characteristics(Okonkwo, 2007b). Accordingly, as the world has fashion hubs which are countries or cities which promote and spread fashion, such as Paris, the West can be considered the global hub for the remaining world as most successful designers attempt to influence the Western fashion market to gain recognition. While Nigerian or African fashion was not highly prominent in the West previously, Nigerian designers have gained recognition and formed their own luxury brands (Okonkwo, 2009a).
This dissertation will seek to explore the branding strategies of Nigerian luxury brands, specifically Tiffany Amber, in context of socio-economic class, magnitude of fashion, age group, and other relevant factors which influence the branding strategy of a luxury brand. Accordingly this proposal will commence with an explanation of the background of the topic and the company Tiffany Amber and continue by stating the rationale for the study, research objectives/aims, and the research questions. The next chapter in the proposal will contain a brief literature review covering some of the main points in the literature concerning branding strategies of fashion luxury brands and summarizing the points that the dissertation will seek to explore. The proposal will commence with describing the research design and methodology including methods of data collection and data analysis and conclude with a short summary of all the relevant crucial points in the proposal.
Fashion is not a necessity but is usually a luxury exploited by and available to consumers who are willing to purchase fashionable clothes and have the resources to do so. One of the largest groups of consumers who are influenced by fashion are the young generation or young consumers and this particular target market is also known to spend the most upon purchasing fashionable clothing. Accordingly, designers of luxury brands incorporate different branding strategies within their marketing plan in order to increase their influence upon young consumers (Kotler, 1988).
This study particularly focuses upon studying the impact of branding strategies of new luxury brands upon young Nigerian consumers belonging to the upper-middle class and those who have the resources to afford luxury clothing and have access to luxury fashion brands. The study will discuss their fashion choices with relation to luxury and non-luxury brands and their reasons for choosing fashionable clothing such as maintaining an image, looking young, and price and status amongst other factors.
Society has always classified individuals according to a number of characteristics and accordingly given them labels such as frontrunners and followers, powerful and weak, elite and poor, and many other universal social categorizations (Kotler, 1988). Thus, individuals are then classified according to factors such as treasure, prestige, capability, education, profession, and even place of residence. These separate factors together form the classification of socio-economic class which is one of the most important consumer characteristics in luxury fashion clothing Tynan et al, 2010).
Accordingly, African luxury fashion brands are seeking to make their impact upon the Western fashion market by adopting various branding strategies to appeal to the affluent youth. While the development of African fashion has previously been slow, African fashion brands are gradually entering the Western fashion market featuring Nigerian designers in the lead (Jennings & Ude, 2011). Designers such as Deola Sagoe, Violet Hecksher, and Adebayo Jones have all made their mark as high-end fashion brands which provide and design clothes in the categories ofhaute dressmaking, avante garde, and bridal fashion clothing. They produce commendable work in their own design fields and clearly communicate their brand image in their collections and customer service, representing concepts such as reliability, custom fitting, vibrance, entertainment, and comfort (Chavelier & Mozzalovo, 2008). However, Deola Sagoe exceeds the limitations of other Nigerian fashion designers and features a highly innovative high-end fashion line which is not seen elsewhere within the realms of Nigerian fashion. Thus, it is evident that Nigerian fashion has been thriving for some time and has made commendable progress in the last five years. Previously, Nigerian designs such as Ankara were not used daily and Nigerian designers were not paid much regard. However, now consumers under the age of 40 have begun to appreciate the beauty of Ankara and regularly wear garments designed by Nigerian designers. Designers have currently become proud of the country-of-origin of their products and often promote this feeling of patriotism by labeling clothes with emblems saying “Proudly Nigerian” (Keller & Lehmann, 2006).
Due to the new popularity of Ankara fabric and the skills of fashion designers, the Nigerian fashion industry has currently taken a whole new path and is on the road to success, putting Nigerian fashion designers in a better position to target the youth and develop appropriate branding strategies to promote their luxury brands. This dissertation seeks to explore these branding strategies, specifically those employed by the luxury fashion brand, Tiffany Amber (Wilcox et al, 2009).
1.3 Company Background:
The brand, Tiffany Amber, was incorporated in the fall of 1998 by the brand’s owner and founder, Folake Folarin Cokar, who lived most of her youth in Europe exploring various fashion trends and fashion philosophy in order to later transmit her fashion sense and passion in her new brand. Unlike other Nigerian luxury brands, Tiffany Amber is specifically designed to suit the modern African woman and offers a unique blend of traditional African design with an international aesthetic which is part of the brand’s unique selling proposition. The brand is also widely known for its ultra feminine cuts and pieces created with the most luxuriant fabric and specific emphasis to detail.
Unlike other African fashion designers, Tiffany Amber has successfully made a mark in the global fashion market while winning numerous awards and featuring its designs at the New York Fashion Week. The brand’s success can be attributed to a number of things which may include the brand’s specific emphasis to detail and femininity or the brand’s branding strategy of featuring itself under a foreign brand name rather than a local Nigerian brand name (Anheir & Isar, 2008).
1.4 Rationale for the Study:
While Western fashion and the fashion industries of other countries are well-developed, Nigerian fashion is a newly emerging concept and a newly prosperous industry. Thus, while all major fashion brands indulge in strategized marketing and promotion of their brands, there is little insight into how Nigerian luxury fashion brands adopt branding strategies to make consumers more aware of their brand and increase their prominence. Moreover, while the youth are highly appreciative of Nigerian fashion in Nigeria, there is a need to understand whether Nigerian designers are effectively targeting the youth and increasing the prominence of their fashion brands or whether there is need for improvement in their branding/marketing strategies (Cayla & Arnold, 2008).
While this would not have been an issue previously, with the current success of Nigerian fashion and its penetrating prominence in the Western fashion market, it is essential to study whether Nigerian luxury fashion brands such as Tiffany Amber are effectively using branding as a source to increase consumer awareness (Ahmad, 2011). If branding strategies and marketing plans are not coordinated and presented effectively, it may affect the success and acceptance of Nigerian fashion amongst young consumers. This was not previously a highly researched topic as the Nigerian fashion industry was not highly prominent and was not given due regard, hence there is little insight into this area of research (Shukla, 2011).
This study can shed light upon whether the Nigerian luxury fashion market is effectively using branding strategies to gain prominence amongst young consumers and whether young consumers are aware of various Nigerian brands. It can also shed light upon the different types of branding strategies used in the Nigerian fashion industry and how these can be improved to exploit the opportunities available for Nigerian fashion amongst young consumers, if they are not currently being used at optimum level (Phau & Prendergast, 2000).
1.5 Research Aims:
Principle Research Aim: Exploring the depth of Nigerian fashion culture and the use of branding strategies by luxury brands to gain prominence amongst young consumers.
Aims to critically analyze and explore fashion culture in Nigeria as well as the contemporary fashion industry
Aims to critically analyze the development and success of luxury fashion brands in Nigeria and their strategy of targeting young consumers
Aims to explore brand awareness of luxury fashion brands amongst young consumers in Nigeria
Aims to critically analyze and explore the branding strategies of luxury fashion brands in Nigeria
Aims to explore the branding strategy employed by Tiffany Amber and effectively make recommendations for improvement in light of the information gathered in the study
Primary Research Question: What types of branding strategies are used by Nigerian luxury fashion brands and are they effectively targeting and increasing brand prominence amongst young consumers?
Subsidiary Research Questions:
What does fashion culture in Nigeria represent
Are young consumers aware of various luxury fashion brands in Nigeria
What branding strategies are being used by Tiffany Amber and how can they be improved to increase the brand’s acceptance by young consumers
H0: young Nigerian customers are not aware of brand prominence of luxury fashion brands.
H1: young Nigerian customers are aware of brand prominence of luxury fashion brands
Chapter 2: Literature Review
2.1 Concept of Branding:
A brand name is a source of recognition for a product range which gives it a distinct identity and differentiates it from the products of competitors. If it were not for the concept of branding, it would not be possible for fashion designers to gain recognition in the industry and set themselves apart from their counterparts offering similar clothing and styles. A brand name represents a number of concepts and is a source of equity for a business which adds value to the business beyond the value of its material assets. Moreover, it is also a source of communication between the customer and the brand owner which gives off several cues to the customer regarding the product (Amankwah et al, 2012).
A brand name is particularly important in the fashion industry and all luxury fashion brands are dependent upon the development of their brand name in order to add value to their brands. For example, Louis Vutton produces a leather handbag which is produced at a cost of approximately ?150 including the cost of overheads, but the bag is sold at a price of ?750 because of its unique style, the brand’s equity, and the brand associations that arise in the minds of customers when purchasing the brand (Wissinger, 2009).The luxury fashion brands industry aims to associate feelings of prestige, importance, power, hi-fashion, and uniqueness within customers regarding the brands they purchase. Thus, the industry’s main aim is to develop their brand name through branding strategies to represent concepts which are highly attractive for affluent customers and influence them to pay a high price for their products while also frequently purchasing their products (Fillis & Remtschler, 2006).
2.2 Branding Strategies:
In order to promote their luxury fashion brands in the eyes of customers, brand owners and managers implement a number of branding strategies. The branding strategies include extending the brand life cycle, increasing brand prominence, creating a brand image and brand position in the market, using celebrity endorsements, and using a foreign brand name amongst other innumerous branding strategies (Atwal & Williams, 2009).
Many brands attempt to attract customers through constant innovation and offering completely new looks. Thus, this leaves customers guessing and at a stage of surprise as they are not sure of what to expect from the brand. While this strategy can significantly increase customer interest, it can also be harmful in the sense that it may cause brand confusion for customers and they may not be able to associate an appropriate image with the brand. Some brands attempt to increase their sales by increasing brand prominence and ensuring that customers are well aware of their brand. This may involve sponsoring events, featuring the brand in movies, advertisements, and basically ensuring the brand name is visible wherever possible (Ahmad, 2011). While this may be effective in ensuring that customers are well aware of the brand and it is at the top of their minds, but it may also cause customers to think that the brand has lost its uniqueness if the brand is made too prominent and is featured in the wrong places (Danziger, 2004).
Many brand managers feel that their brand will sell itself if the correct brand image is projected and the brand is positioned appropriately. This is one of the most important branding strategies for luxury brands as this determines their identity in the market and how they are perceived by customers. Luxury fashion brands often prefer to create a brand image of uniqueness, importance, high status, and exquisite style. However, they may differ in the manner that they position themselves in the market as some brands may wish to position themselves as traditional brands while others may wish to project themselves as contemporary brands for example (Wilcox et al, 2009).
Another very popular branding strategy for luxury fashion brands is using celebrity endorsements or hiring brand ambassadors which are well-known people who represent or use the brand in order to promote it to customers. This is usually considered an effective strategy in the case of luxury fashion brands as using celebrity endorsements often adds an aura of prestige and status to the brand (Keller & Lehmann, 2006). One of the popular branding strategies in brands originating from less developed countries is adopting a foreign brand name in order to give the brand a more Westernized image and possibly even hiding its country of origin. This is one of the strategies adopted by numerous Nigerian fashion designers, such as Tiffany Amber, and touches upon the next topic of the country of origin effect (Tynan et al , 2010).
2.3 Country of Origin Effect:
The country of origin effect is seen within brands originating from different countries and how consumers perceive them based upon their country of origin. For example, it may be difficult for a Chinese fashion designer to name a global fashion brand under a Chinese name and then effectively compete with other fashion brands such as Zara, Marie Claire, and numerous others as Western consumers may not be able to completely relate to the brand. It may also be difficult for consumers to associate themselves with the brand or perceive it as a high quality brand. Hence, many brands originating from less developed countries are made to adopt a Western name in order to at times hide their country of origin or relate to customers more effectively. This practice is often seen in Nigerian brands and may be a cause for their recent success in the global market, including brands such as Tiffany and Amber. Accordingly, these brands give off specific psychological cues to customers (Cayla & Arnould, 2008).
2.4 Psychological Effects of Branding:
Customers wearing branded products often choose to wear these brands because they give them psychological satisfaction more than for the specific quality or style they offer. For example, a consumer wearing a simple dress which is not branded may not feel as confident as a consumer wearing a dress with a specific emblem or logo on it (Okonkwo, 2007b). Moreover, brands give customers a sense of belonging and may give them the feeling that they belong to a specific group of people who use a particular product. Thus, many consumers feel that they are cool, stylish, of high status, rich, or fashionable because they are wearing a particular brand. Hence, consumers, specifically young consumers in the contemporary fashion market, feel that they are recognized through the brands they wear. The same situations holds true for Nigerian consumers (Danziger, 2004).
2.5 Nigerian Young Consumers:
Young Nigerian consumers are becoming increasingly affluent and have a substantial amount of discretionary income to spend upon fashion clothing. Moreover, with the increase in education and awareness, Nigerian consumers are increasingly becoming fashion conscious and feel highly comfortable wearing Western labels. However, with the current prominence of Nigerian fashion, some young consumers are beginning to wear Ankara fabric and appreciate Nigerian fashion (Kawamura, 2011).
However, a lot of the young generation may not be explicitly aware of Nigerian fashion brands and thus may not be targeted properly. The Nigerian fashion industry is in danger of losing such individuals to the Western fashion industry if the correct branding strategies are not implemented and young consumers are not given the feelings of prestige, honor, status, and style while using the brand (Jennings & Ude, 2011). These concepts must be explored in greater depth within the dissertation.
Chapter 3: Research Methodology:
3.1 Research Philosophy:
The research conducted will be exploratory in nature as it seeks to investigate a topic which has previously not been explored in great depth. The study will be designed to be both qualitative and quantitative in nature as it will rely upon qualitative data in order to derive an outcome regarding the branding strategies employed by Tiffany and Amber and other luxury brands and also use a quantitative questionnaire in order to derive an outcome regarding the perception of young Nigerian customers of Tiffany and Amber (Kawamura, 2011).
3.2 Research Design:
The research will be designed in order to gain maximum in-depth information regarding the branding strategies of luxury brands and also provide a degree of control to eliminate interviewer/researcher bias and other problems associated with only qualitative research. Hence, the research design will depend upon both qualitative and quantitative data and both primary and secondary data. Primary data will be gathered through the means of a questionnaire conducted with Tiffany and Amber customers and secondary data will be collected for the literature review through online databases, journals, books, websites, magazines, and other sources (Berg, 2004).
3.3 Research Strategy:
The research process will begin with the collection of data for the literature review and critical analysis through online databases, journals, and other relevant sources after which a conceptual framework will be formed against which the new data collected is to be analyzed.
According to the findings in the literature review, a comprehensive questionnaire will be dispersed to 60 Tiffany Amber young customers (under the age of 40) to gain their opinion regarding their knowledge and association with the Tiffany Amber brand. The data will then be analyzed and compared to the results obtained in the literature review in order to arrive at a conclusion (Berg, 2004).
3.4 Data Collection Method:
The most appropriate data collection method for this study would be to first gain explicit permission from Tiffany and Amber to contact their customers regarding the study and get a list of email addresses of approximately 60-80 young customers from their database.
As some customers may not be willing to participate in the study, approximately 80 customers will be sent questionnaires through email out of which 60 responses will be used for the purpose of the study. The method of email will be used to promote convenience and promptness of responses (Patton, 1990).
3.5 Data Analysis:
As the questionnaire will be closed-ended, the data obtained from the questionnaire will be analyzed through the use of statistical software such as SPSS. This software is chosen for its appropriateness and accuracy in analyzing such data. The data involving single variables will be presented in the form of bar and pie charts and frequency tables. The data involving two or more variables will be presented in the form of statistical correlation analysis.
3.6 Quality of Research:
The research needs to ensure validity and reliability and in order to increase the quality of research, it is essential to ensure that the information is interpreted without interviewer bias/respondent bias. Questions should be designed to ensure that they are not loaded or leading questions and arouse a level of interest within the respondent in order to avoid dishonest responses due to boredom (Patton, 1990).
3.7 Ethical Considerations:
There may be a few ethical considerations that must be made when conducting the study which include the situation in which Tiffany Amber may be reluctant to speak of or disclose its branding strategies. Moreover, customers may also be reserved of answering personal questions for fear of misappropriation. In order to reduce the influence of these issues, respondents must be guaranteed anonymity and the researcher must ensure that he/she informs the respondents that he/she is not directly associated with Tiffany and Amber.
The limitations of the study include the fact that the study focuses only upon a single Nigerian brand, Tiffany and Amber, and results cannot be generalized towards other brands. Moreover, the sample population used is not representative of all the Tiffany and Amber customers and also does not represent the opinions of the customers of other luxury brands (Cooper & Schindler, 2003).
The time table shows the most time spent on activities such as reading literature, drafting the literature review, awaiting tutor feedback, and acting on the final feedback given. These activities are given the most emphasis because they are crucial points in the research process and require extensive time to complete. It is highly essential to spend ample time exploring as much literature as possible in order to develop a full-fledged conceptual framework. Hence, approximately a week and a half is required in order to properly read all relevant sources. Drafting and writing out the literature review is likely to take approximately two and a half weeks as it is essential to appropriately form the arguments and the critical analysis as this is the main foundation of the research. As supervisors and tutors are likely to have a number of students to advise, it will take them some time to provide feedback and thus this is also a milestone in the research process.
Analyzing the data is likely to take a shorter period of time than the other activities as it certain statistical functions must be used on SPSS and the data must be interpreted accordingly.
The most important part of the research process is acting upon final feedback and ensuring the dissertation is up to the mark in all regards which includes activities such as proofreading, formatting, and correcting any mistakes.
Chapter 4: Conclusion
In a highly diverse and enticing fashion market, it is essential for Nigerian brands to promote brand awareness and prominence as Western brands do in order to ensure that they continue to appeal to young consumers. In order to do so, they may use a number of branding strategies that have preliminarily been explored in the literature review and will be explored in more depth and detail in the dissertation. However, as Western brands gain increasing prominence and implement effective branding strategies, it is becoming more essential for Nigerian designers to implement highly effective branding strategies to appeal to the youth (Kotler, 1988).
With the example of Tiffany and Amber, the study will aim to appropriately explore the branding strategies that this particular brand employs and provide recommendations for improvement accordingly. This study can also lead to further research around the topics of how Nigerian branding strategies are different from the West and understanding how young Nigerian customers perceive the branding strategies of the West compared to those of local brands. Thus, this information can be highly beneficial for the fashion industry to develop a more strategically appropriate marketing plan and become as competent and prominent as Western fashion brands. The study can also lead to studies in other sectors of the developing Nigerian market such as accessories, technology, home decor, and others.
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