Short lead times are an essential feature of fast fashion as they enable

Short lead times are an essential feature of fast

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Short lead times are an essential feature of fast fashion as they enable retailers to offer constant newness in their offerings and thus encourage frequent store visits by
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259 GLOBAL COMMODITY CHAINS AND FAST FASHION consumers. This results in faster turnover and lower inventory costs. But retailers also have to be able to provide consumer value, whether it is in basic-fashion items that are extremely inexpensive, or in more trendy items for which they can charge more. The former allows them to compete in a mass-market segment on the basis of cost; the latter utilizes a more differentiated strategy that combines cost and time. This is an important distinction since it separates firms who pursue a focus on driving down costs to provide products deemed desirable because they are inexpensive and those that manufacture desire by offering affordable fashion-sensitive items. While there is an extensive research literature discussing the former, less analysis has been proffered on the latter. Cost-based strategies are not too dissimilar from the buyer-driven commodity chains analysed by Gereffi (1996) in his seminal work published in Competition & Change ; the major modification being technological innovations that provide better monitoring of channel integration and thus faster turnaround. However, the cost and time strategy involves vertical integration and results in products being pushed as well as pulled through the commodity chain. This shifts discussion of chains to the inter- dependence of both supply- and demand-driven issues — a combination of quick response and enhanced design complementarities (Cachon & Swinney, 2011). The new frontier of fast fashion is one where firms have the flexibility and design skills to offer products that customers perceive to be new and distinctive, yet at the same time affordable to a mass market. More varying consumer demands and lifestyle changes, plus the faster dissemina- tion of information on styles, are transforming how people shop (Gabrielli et al ., 2013). Recent research has begun to focus upon hedonic customer responses to fast fashion (Miller, 2013) and how it might differ from other forms of purchasing behaviour. Along with business cycle changes, there are a multitude of factors such as attitude, personality, values and so on, which influence consumer motivation (Blackwell et al ., 2006). Additional research has questioned the extent to which price-led marketing strategies can be sustainable if they are not always stimulating consumer demand by emphasizing quantity rather than quality (Watson & Yan, 2013). Yet other studies have pointed to the growth of digital retailing for a younger demographic, especially if such sites are part of omni-channel retailing that integrates hitherto disparate channels (online, direct mail, social media and so on) (Rigby, 2011).
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