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.
I worked as a buying assistant to develop all the products.This role also gave me the chance to improve UX design research in retail/e-commerce industries later. I assisted buyers and managers with writing purchase orders (P/O), buying merchandise, and managing inventory.
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.
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 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
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.
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.
SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN?
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 and interview with managers. 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.
Courtesy of photo, www.papayaclothing.com , Interior team 2014
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.