To comply with my confidentiality agreement I have omitted and appropriated confidential information.
These marketing research, annual report, and store information are based on the 2014-2015 fashion market report and a reinterpretation of the original. However, I did my research after the company's bankruptcy, I focused on how they solved the situation and developed their fashion report. The information in this case study is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of Papaya clothing.Inc.
PACKING MY BAG TO WORK IN CALIFORNIA
Thanks to the South Korea Government funding program and Han Sung University's Fashion Design sponsorship in 2013 (KOSAF, The Korea Student Aid Foundation), I was able to dream about working in different countries.
This is the story that I brought about 2014 Fashion report research from more than 150+ store managers' interview and boosting sales for Papaya clothing.
After their struggle (filing for bankruptcy), I did my research on how the company adapted to changing Fashion Market trend.
Papaya Clothing is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cornerstone Apparel, Inc. that has been growing in the retail fashion industry for the past three decades. Their business primarily focuses on the junior and petite apparel markets.
They help millions of young women across the U.S. to look and feel their best by offering an extensive selection of clothing and accessories to coordinate the perfect outfit for any occasion.
I always appreciate to Cornerstone Apparel for giving me the chance to work in the retail fashion industry in California.
I worked as a buying assistant to develop all the products from more than 500 vendors from international companies. This role also gave me the chance to improve UX design research in retail/e-commerce industries later.
I had lots of opportunities to research for the fashion market trends, engage with store report, and communicate with the store managers and vendors.
I assisted buyers and managers with writing purchase orders (P/O), buying merchandise, and managing inventory.
Our company has an impressive track record in the retail business and we expect that trend to continue. We currently operate over 100 retail
locations nationwide in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
I research suppliers to determine which ones fit company pricing and quality objectives. I also advise retail outlets on how to price products based on the purchase price and market trends.
In the retail industry, a buyer is an individual who selects what items are stocked.
Buyers usually work closely with designers and their designated sales representatives. They attend trade fairs including MAGIC SHOW, LV, wholesale showrooms and fashion shows to observe trends.
These case studies focus on the marketing plan and annual reports from 2014 to 2018.
MARKETING PLAN (YEARLY PLAN)
PRICING AND DISTRIBUTION
PLANNING, IMPLEMENTATION, AND CONTROL
PAPAYA STRATEGIC FASHION MARKETING PLAN
"Together, we will continue to push the boundaries of fast-fashion design, technology, and communication with customers."
We believe we need to communicate regularly with more than 150 stores to help the business grow. This is usually achieved by increasing crucial business metrics: conversion rates, retention, improving brand perception, and more. Steady communication wins the long race of the fashion market. Also, we need to research for every year's trend for the junior market.
Teenagers would like to save time and money. They shop around and get optimized stylish clothing because each one of us is unique. Teenagers have a low budget but they still love to get some nice items to boost their mood.
This includes 200 nationwide stores in the United States, growing social media and e-commerce, and 55 outlets. The brick and mortal operate in big cities and main shopping destinations reflect the target consumers' needs.
Promotion is the use of multiple promotional methods in order to strengthen the brand's heritage.
Promotion is one of the main marketing tools used to strengthen the brand image and break into the national market. The company can make a great deal from the targeted valuable customer.
Developing social media content would be great assets for promotional events with social media influencers' feedback and reviews.
Papaya clothing represents what chilling out vibe brings to anywhere in the world.
It's a fast-growing fashion, clothing, and accessories brand for juniors with their products being sold at affordable prices.
The difference between Papaya clothing and other fashion retailers is that they have a vertical integrated operating system can manage their inventory.
They are able to recognize and assimilate the continuous changes in fashion, creating new designs that respond to customers' desires almost instantly. New designs are placed in the stores twice a week, hence showing their efficiency at keeping up with trends.
Another way Papaya clothing stands out is by engaging with social media contents and bloggers, and fashionistas. This is necessary because most of the juniors are active on social media and get influenced by their peers.
Papaya clothing is changing every moment to keep up with trends. Papaya clothing only spent 0.3% on advertising. Instead of paid advertising on Google and Yahoo, they use real users for their social media.
Papaya clothing focuses on investing the money they would normally spend on advertising into opening new stores in urban city environments.
The company operated over 220 stores in nationwide in 2014 and but had to close 100 stores due to the revenue fall in the fashion industry in 2017. Papaya relies on word of mouth and strategic store locations, thereby attracting new audiences and increasing their sales and profit daily,
-Papaya clothing depends on word of mouth marketing which for them is successful.
-Papaya has a low spend on paid advertising.
-One step ahead of competitors like Nasty Gal, FOREVER21, H&M, Fashion Nova, Uniqlo, Shein, and Boohoo that all have a larger advertising expenditure.
-Organic listing of users and building trust means money can be diverted elsewhere,
e.g. opening new stores or approaching the online market is what papaya clothing does currently in strategic cities to fuel their reputation.
-Affordable price range and lots of discount promotion.
-Photographs from real users, and social media feedback.
-They advertise without having to pay for TV Ads, application market charge, or Google ads. They engage in listing by using organic users from social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Social media is used so much more nowadays. It boosts online marketing from the real person not a paid model. Papaya clothing hires some of their models from Instagram (especially social media influencers) who actually love products from Papaya clothing.
When competitors discover their USP, they will easily be one step ahead as they will already have money set aside for advertising and Papaya clothing will not, so they will find it hard to compete.
Papaya clothing tries to create engagement with users. They hire models and organize promotion events through their customers, not celebrities or model agencies. This helps to build trust by making users become part of the product line.
However, this method only applies to people who can access social media.
Another large apparel retailer has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, bringing the total number of retail bankruptcies through the first half of 2017 to 12. However, it was not about Papaya Clothing, but trends are going to change. Barneys New York, an icon of New York retail, has filed for bankruptcy.
A combination of overexpansion and an increasing number of shoppers preferring to shop online led to Papaya’s financial downfall, the company writes. There is need for new marketing and new trends for online shopping.
High rent is not the only challenge facing Barneys as it’s staring down new online competition like Yoox’s Net-A-Porter and Moda Operandi, which are encroaching on the previously untouchable luxury retail space.
No collaboration with designers whereas competitors H&M and Forever21 collaborate with many big brands and labels.
THE DISTRIBUTION CHANNEL AND CUSTOMER'S MINDSET CHANGED
For women, there are two ranges that suit two different age groups, TRF and women's range. They are paying attention to this younger age range, so they have loyal customers and ensure that they are always offering something that will appeal to their target audience, irrespective of age.
Due to the brand having such a wide audience, they don't tend to segment their audience as the brand is more about a range of lifestyle attitudes.
Overall, the brand is suitable for anyone who wants good quality and fast fashion garments manufactured and sold in stores.
The distribution channel is changing. Here is a research on the change in people's mindset, attitude toward clothing, and lifestyle.
Source: The Bloomberg, The Death of Clothing
PEOPLE SPEND THEIR MONEY
BUYING TECH GADGETS
Several reasons are behind this shift, some are beyond the control of apparel companies, as societal changes drove different shopping behavior, but missteps by these companies along the way have hastened the death of clothing.
THE DISTRIBUTION CHANNEL CHANGED
I don't think this is solely Papaya Clothing's problem.
Our distribution channel is changing and people don't want to spend their money on fancy, dry-cleaning clothes anymore.
It’s easy to see why this is bad news for apparel companies. When you cut out an entire category of attire, there’s less need to buy new clothes when fashions change. When there’s a hot new color or pattern, maybe someone in her 20s buys one new blouse to stay on trend and wears it to work and out at night.
We need to target the new market and new customers. I try to understand what it means to be a customer for Papaya Clothing and how to find some long-term solutions.
I conducted a research to understand Papaya Clothing's target consumers.
The survey concluded our interest is moving on to technology.
So fashion should connect with needs as related to the online market or connect to lifestyle with technology.
FASHION TREND KEEPS UP WITH NEW LIFESTYLE
In today’s consumer-driven economy, social media influencers often call the shots. These online personalities build followings with posts of their outfits, makeup routines, and lifestyles. And they’re less loyal to upscale brands.
COMPETITOR ANALYSIS SYNTHESIS
There are new competitors in the market.
I think two of the competitive fashion shopping malls are FashionNova and Shein, since they target the online market really fast.
They also have a store, but online marketing is the strong point these days.
They read the trends and understand what customers really want.
NEW COMPETITOR IN THE MARKET
Back then in 2014, I thought our competitor would be Forever 21, American Apparel, Rue 21, and H&M while I worked as a buying assistant to develop all the products from the beginning stage to final approval.
However, I feel things have so much changed right now.
After 2018, I can obviously see that Fashion Nova and Shein are a new competitor in the fashion/e-commerce market.
When I went to the app store, the top of the fashion rank was Fashion Nova, not H&M or Forever21. Not only Instagram and Youtube but also application market shows us new trends about e-commerce.
Distribution Channel is moving on.
Social media is one of the main platforms used by Fashion Nova to reach out to their diverse audience, especially their YouTube channel as they create videos every couple of weeks.
These vary from collection previews, final collection videos, collaborations, interviews, to highlighted brand awareness, all appealing to Fashion Nova's target customers.
Looking at their channel, they tend to upload two videos per day; one is a collaboration and the other an 11-second collection preview.
Current e-commerce systems allow new entrants that Papaya Clothing will have to compete with.
Consumers have discovered they can invest in certain pieces and buy runway knockoffs to put together a unique, selfie-worthy look. With smartphones, these same shoppers easily compare prices, even using apps to snap a picture and find a cheaper alternative.
SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN?
I will talk about a new competitor in the market, Fashion Nova.
How did they become the most influential e-commerce market today?
Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook are the main sources of reaching out to the target audience. Fashion Nova relies heavily on this, even radio commercials to reach their audience.
Their general videos on all accounts are quite a low production, but considering having the number of videos they create, they must be using a lot of their profits to fund them.
They use music with soft rhythm and no lyrics. This implies that the focus is on the video itself, whether it's an editorial or interview.
They use celebrities; for example, Kylie Jenner's review of their clothing line. This drew a lot of people's attention to the denim jeans she wore.
The jean became one of Fashion Nova's best selling items after Kylie was highly pitched.
INSTAGRAM IS DAILY LIFE
Instagram is more than a photo gallery, it is where juniors love to share their daily life, meme, thoughts, advice, and travels.
This is a very new marketing strategy. Papaya should be aware of these trends and fully use this market to get a better understand their users.
Instagram has over 800 million active monthly users
60% of juniors online use Instagram
80% of the app’s user base is outside the U.S. (global shipping is a great tool).
There are 25 million business profiles on Instagram
MDP USABILITY TESTING FROM 150+ STORE'S SENIOR MANAGERS
I had a chance to deep-research for 150+ stores. I got some calls and sales report from each of the stores and interviewed them using several questions on my list.
Also, I thought this is the best time to talk about communication between HQ and stores as they deal with customers every day.
And I realized we really need a serious meeting every month, not just a simple survey that you can do for 30minutes.
This survey for marketing report exposed the need for a new communication strategy between the HQ office and papaya's nationwide stores to communicate their challenges and the difficulties they face in the course of their work daily.
HQ papaya clothing decided to work together with their store opening event, stock organizing, allocation problem, and visual display to understand the current situation.
I got another chance to talk in person with the senior manager when the store at
Palm Spring, CA was opened. I realized the senior manager was right. Each state has a unique problem with its state law and different type of consumers. There was more than a problem everywhere. I remember she even stalled in stores one more day to solve the regulation problem with display and interior.
LET'S LISTEN FROM THE SCENE.
Even when I visited Palm Spring, CA New Store event in 2014 with one of our head buyers, Eugene Choi. I co-worked on display, solving the design problem with the store, and HQ office communication.
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) rules and our social media-friendly interior visual display regarding Papaya policy clashed. It is a set of rules prescribing minimum requirements to prevent fire and explosion hazards arising from the storage, handling, or use of dangerous materials, or from other specific hazardous conditions. It complements the building code.
We had to stall for more than one day. I realized so many things go on in stores, ranging from item allocation, fashion display for screen, to visual decorations.
I realized each state has such a different and unique situation regarding sales. I also realized I needed more research about people's preference for clothing from each state.
STORE INTERIOR & DISPLAY PLAN
FOR SOCIAL MEDIA EXPOSURE AND CO-LIVE
We worked on a store plan and the interior situation regarding store plan and expansion.
I got involved in visual display for Palm Spring, CA Store in 2014 and realized how difficult stock allocation and visual display problems regarding regulations are. This is not about sales report but genuine communication between people coping with different situations.
ANCESTRY WITH LARGEST POPULATION IS NOT THE SAME ACROSS COUNTIES
This survey shows even juniors have different taste in every county and we might have to consider this when we allocate our fashion product to each of the stores to save shipping cost and get nice feedback from them.
ANCESTRY WITH LARGEST POPULATION IN COUNTY IS VERY DIFFERENT
this survey shows even junior has different taste in every county and we might have to consider this when we allocated our fashion product to each of the stores to save shipping cost and get nice feedback from them.
OBESITY POPULATION IN COUNTY REFLECT ADDITIONAL BIG SIZE NEEDS AND DIFFERENT SIZE RATIO FOR ALLOCATION SYSTEM
This survey shows even juniors have a different size chart for every state and we need to talk about how to save our money to ship and re-stock our products.
EVERY HOUSEHOLD INCOME IS DIFFERENT,
YOU NEED TO ADJUST PRODUCT MARK-UP
This survey shows median household income is very diverse and reflected their budget.
It will automatically be connected to their buying ability and we should target for their availability for buying products.
CAMPAIGN AND MOOD BOARD INSPIRATION
When I made mood board 2014, it was more heavily focused on trendy and bold details.
However, based on a 2018 marketing report, we should target for RGB digital color palette for a futuristic vivid mood. In addition, lots of pattern and clothing styles should have a Spanish heritage theme for our junior targeting. Lots of juniors are exposed to digital media and they are used to RGB type of color palette assets in daily life and once they are used to a certain color pattern, they feel comfortable with their boundaries.
In summary, we should pay attention to social media influencers and bloggers words, they will play a vital role in future. Our lifestyle is changing fast and heading towards minimalistic fashion.
I also wrote down every single word that related to our users.
Here is the list that came into my mind to develop UX strategies for user-centered design:
USER PERSONA WHO LOVES OUR PRODUCT AND USES IT EVERYDAY
The genuine idea is always good for the people.
People don't trust the paid gorgeous model with paid advertisement.
Instead of that, people would love to hear more about the product reviews from their genuine peers and social influencers, true people near them.
This is why a lot of start-up fashion companies gain a lot of traction through social media these days.
Thanks to the marketing research and store manager phone interview process, we were able to validate the UX flows, mood board, and create a future store plan engaged with user experience every release cycle with lots of feedback.
Built to validate a customer idea and feedback, the prototype eventually helped the teenager's clothing shopping experience to become much better.
I would love to share the true story of someone whose dreams became reality through Papaya Clothing.
Our web and styling team found some models, not from agencies, they are social media influencers on YouTube and Twitter who genuinely love our products and have good reviews about our items.
We reached out to them and they become professional models in the fashion industry later.
Genuine ads have a noticeable impact on consumers, people tend to believe and appreciate product reviews from their genuine peers and social influencers, true people near them.
GENUINE SOCIAL MEDIA
INFLUENCERS CHANGE THE VIEW OF PAPAYA
Besides of Jessica and Kiara, there are so many people who love Papaya Clothing and made YouTube videos for Papaya Haul and Papaya Babes.
No matter your personality, you are a part of Papaya. We now adjust ourselves into social media platforms and try to be close to you. We are REAL, we aim our brand at you.
QUESTIONNAIRE WITH PAPAYA CUSTOMERS 2014
FEMALE 8 : MALE 2 RATIO
Papaya Clothing buy team took a survey before and here is some part of it. This is for the presentation purpose only. The current situation may be different from before. Our store has lots of junior girls who look for affordable clothing.
TARGET AGE 17-22 THE MOST
This shows Papaya Clothing has lots of young and fresh junior clothing and they are our main customers.
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING?
So many people are students in high-school or universities. Although they have a job that is a more part-time job (we do further salary research after this survey)
I realized we really should think user-centered clothing brand and their value for the money.
BRAND AWARENESS FOR
SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN
Papaya should study for juniors and their daily activities and find ways to improve their daily life with clothing and give them advice for a better look.
Also, I realized every customer shops our competitors before and now.
They always compare with the specs and price, and quality all the time by sharing reviews on websites and social media.
There are a lot of possibilities in social media campaign regarding brand awareness and getting closer to our user's point of view.
OFFLINE STORES ARE ALSO ENGAGING WITH USERS
Papaya should consider what is junior friendly while shopping the line of flow.
Try to be helpful and give them advice in a friendly way.
Creating an engaging experience with the user will take you to the next step.
"Small change brings out huge results to our buying team. Her research skills and communication with people are phenomenal results.
This positivity is her nature. "
Buyer at Papaya Clothing-
THIS IS HOW WE WILL DO IT
It’s clear that Instagram isn’t just for personal use anymore, it’s now a global platform that allows brands to humanize their content, recruit new talent, showcase products, and inspire their audience.
Instagram users aren’t just active, they’re engaged. This photo and video sharing app has quickly turned into a top social media site. More than half of the platform’s active users visit the site daily, and 35% say they check it multiple times a day.
Instagram can also help you grow brand awareness and introduce products.
70% of Instagram users have spent time looking up a brand on the platform. Instagram allows you to promote your brand and product in a friendly and authentic way without hard selling to your customers.
BE USEFUL FOR JUNIORS
Educational posts offer snackable tips on how to do or make something. The photos or videos usually present the instructions in a way that is quick and easy to follow.
Influencer posts use the fame of a celebrity or well-known public figure to promote your brand. These posts often include a visual of the influencer using or interacting with your product. One of the main benefits of influencer posts is gaining the attention of another audience.
A motivational post combines a simple visual with an overlaid quote or uplifting text. These posts encourage your audience and amplify your brand values. While effective, try to post these sparingly to avoid looking cheesy. Apps like Quipio and Typic can help you add text to photos in a way that’s consistent with your brand guidelines.
Similar to employee reposts, user-generated content (UGC) is curated content from your fans and followers. Your tagged posts and posts with your brand hashtag are a great source for UGC.