Who: Laura Egeln, PhD, is a professor in the College of Business at Johnson & Wales University Charlotte, as well as an online faculty member.
Agree or Disagree with Article: Agree
Her Take: The CEO of Gap not only acknowledged the feedback from the 5-year-old, he took the information back to his team and is working to incorporate it. Out of the mouths of babes is an expression that is often heard, implying that when a child speaks it is honest, straightforward, and without consideration of a lot of noise that adults would consider.
While the feedback from the child in this case was important and impactful, seemingly simplistic, many are left to wonder if it was such obvious feedback why did it seem so “new.” In order to fully understand the impact of the feedback it is important to understand how the process of product development happens in the apparel industry.
A Closer Look: Product Development
First, a company identifies their target market and works to design products to satisfy that market.
In the case of children’s clothing, there are actually two groups that are taken into consideration:
- Customer/parent: The one who actually purchases the merchandise.
- Consumer/child: The one who uses the merchandise.
In the past, parents made all of the purchasing decisions for the child; however, over the last 20 years, we have seen more and more purchase influence from children. Not only that but the age that the child begins to have influence continues to get younger.
Has the fashion industry been successful at meeting these new demands? Not exactly. The departments that develop the merchandise have not adjusted their focus to the actual consumer at the pace that the consumer is influencing the purchase. Mom and dad might be happy with the assortment Gap is presenting and willing to purchase the clothing for their children, but the children aren’t happy with the assortment and are now influencing their parents to not purchase what they previously would have.
While people often focus on the clothing because this is an example of a retailer, this situation illustrates basic consumer behavior. The product is not what is important, the behavior of the consumer and meeting their needs with products is the bottom line.
In the Fashion Merchandising & Retailing program, we focus on bringing understanding to the bottom line of consumer behavior and layer in the fashion, merchandising, and retailing aspects that impact the consumer.
Learn more about the online Fashion Merchandising & Retailing bachelor’s degree at Johnson & Wales University College of Online Education. For more information, complete the "Request Info" form on this page or call 855-JWU-1881.