A result of these trends is a more pronounced segmentation of the market into

A result of these trends is a more pronounced

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A result of these trends is a more pronounced segmentation of the market into basic garments, fashion-basic garments and fashion garments (Abernathy et al ., 1999). As incomes rose in advanced economies, both the level and composition of demand changed, with notable growth occurring in the fashion-basic segment. More fashion- orientated but affordable styles were appealing to middle-class consumers whose
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254 IAN MALCOLM TAPLIN increased disposable incomes permitted greater opportunities for individual expres- sion (Paterson, 2006). In aggregate terms, such consumption habits were crucial to economic growth, especially in the US where, since the 1980s, consumer spending has accounted for two-thirds of national economic growth (Zukin, 2005). Such changes in demand were an inextricable part of the retailing revolution, but often ignored by studies of retail changes that focused upon the supply of goods. Reconfigured supply chains are now able to produce fashion-basic and fashion garments, enhanced design plus offer greater consumer value. For retailers to fully capture this volatile market, however, they need to more comprehensively understand that consumer behaviour is fluid. There are patterns behind what an individual desires; the key is to be able to anticipate what these patterns are and how they evolve. Sull and Turconi (2008) call this ‘situation awareness’. This means spotting emerging trends but also changing customer preferences by providing merchandise that you believe is consistent with these style trends. Fashion change, as Campbell (2012) noted, is rapid and continuous. Marketing fashion; fashioning markets The Italian company, Benetton, was one of the first to reach an international market with products tailored to different cultural tastes and rapidly changing consumer demand. Its strategy was to produce fashion-forward goods in neutral shades that could be dyed immediately before distribution to retail outlets, with colours deter- mined by local demand. Utilizing point of entry sales data, they could closely track consumer demand and gear production accordingly by shifting production within a network of contractors and sub-contractors. Their products were priced just below those of the competitors but their speed to market gave them a crucial edge in the constantly changing fashion-sensitive segment. Much has been written about how Benetton coordinated design, production and distribution within an ‘industrial district’ model — one of the first successful exam- ples of what became known as flexible specialization (for a summary, see Marangoni & Solari, 2006). The firm was able to combine technological innovation, production dis-aggregation and a cluster of ancillary supporting services to expedite manufacture of fashion-forward goods that were priced to meet the needs of a mass market.
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