Do you also think that fast may not be the best if you are not really doing things in a suitable way?The rough guide to marketing success used to be that you got what you paid for. No longer. While traditional “paid” media – such as television commercials and print advertisements – still play a major role, companies today can exploit many alternative forms of media. Consumers passionate about a product may create “earned” media by willingly promoting it to friends, and a company may leverage “owned” media by sending e-mail alerts about products and sales to customers registered with its Web site. In fact，the way consumers now approach the process of making purchase decisions means that marketing’s impact stems from a broad range of factors beyond conventional paid media.
Paid and owned media are controlled by marketers promoting their own products. For earned media , such marketers act as the initiator for users’ responses. But in some cases, one marketer’s owned media become another marketer’s paid media – for instance, when an e-commerce retailer sells ad space on its Web site. We define such sold media as owned media whose traffic is so strong that other organizations place their content or e-commerce engines within that environment. This trend ,which we believe is still in its infancy, effectively began with retailers and travel providers such as airlines and hotels and will no doubt go further. Johnson & Johnson, for example, has created BabyCenter, a stand-alone media property that promotes complementary and even competitive products. Besides generating income, the presence of other marketers makes the site seem objective, gives companies opportunities to learn valuable information about the appeal of other companies’ marketing, and may help expand user traffic for all companies concerned.
The same dramatic technological changes that have provided marketers with more (and more diverse) communications choices have also increased the risk that passionate consumers will voice their opinions in quicker, more visible, and much more damaging ways. Such hijacked media are the opposite of earned media: an asset or campaign becomes hostage to consumers, other stakeholders, or activists who make negative allegations about a brand or product. Members of social networks, for instance, are learning that they can hijack media to apply pressure on the businesses that originally created them.
If that happens, passionate consumers would try to persuade others to boycott products, putting the reputation of the target company at risk. In such a case, the company’s response may not be sufficiently quick or thoughtful, and the learning curve has been steep. Toyota Motor, for example, alleviated some of the damage from its recall crisis earlier this year with a relatively quick and well-orchestrated social-media response campaign, which included efforts to engage with consumers directly on sites such as Twitter and the social-news site Digg.
In the 2006 film version of The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda Priestly, played by Meryl Streep, scolds her unattractive assistant for imagining that high fashion doesn’t affect her, Priestly explains how the deep blue color of the assistant’s sweater descended over the years from fashion shows to departments stores and to the bargain bin in which the poor girl doubtless found her garment.
This top-down conception of the fashion business couldn’t be more out of date or at odds with the feverish would be described in Overdressed, Elizabeth Cline’s three-year indictment of “fast fashion”. In the last decade or so, advances in technology have allowed mass-market labels such as Zara, H&M, and Uniqlo to react to trends more quickly and anticipate demand more precisely. Quicker turnarounds mean less wasted inventory, more frequent release, and more profit. These labels encourage style-conscious consumers to see clothes as disposable-meant to last only a wash or two, although they don’t advertise that –and to renew their wardrobe every few weeks. By offering on-trend items at dirt-cheap prices, Cline argues, these brands have hijacked fashion cycles, shaking an industry long accustomed to a seasonal pace.
The victims of this revolution, of course, are not limited to designers. For H&M to offer a $5.95 knit miniskirt in all its 2,300-pius stores around the world, it must rely on low-wage overseas labor, order in volumes that strain natural resources, and use massive amounts of harmful chemicals.
Overdressed is the fashion world’s answer to consumer-activist bestsellers like Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. “Mass-produced clothing, like fast food, fills a hunger and need, yet is non-durable and wasteful,” Cline argues. Americans, she finds, buy roughly 20 billion garments a year – about 64 items per person – and no matter how much they give away, this excess leads to waste.
Towards the end of Overdressed, Cline introduced her ideal, a Brooklyn woman named Sarah Kate Beaumont, who since 2008 has made all of her own clothes – and beautifully. But as Cline is the first to note, it took Beaumont decades to perfect her craft; her example can’t be knocked off.
Though several fast-fashion companies have made efforts to curb their impact on labor and the environment – including H&M, with its green Conscious Collection line –Cline believes lasting change can only be effected by the customer. She exhibits the idealism common to many advocates of sustainability, be it in food or in energy. Vanity is a constant; people will only start shopping more sustainably when they can’t afford not to.
France, which prides itself as the global innovator of fashion, has decided its fashion industry has lost an absolute right to define physical beauty for women. Its lawmakers gave preliminary approval last week to a law that would make it a crime to employ ultra-thin models on runways.
The parliament also agreed to ban websites that “incite excessive thinness” by promoting extreme dieting.
Such measures have a couple of uplifting motives. They suggest beauty should not be defined by looks that end up impinging on health. That’s a start. And the ban on ultra-thin models seems to go beyond protecting models from starving themselves to death – as some have done. It tells the fashion industry that it must take responsibility for the signal it sends women, especially teenage girls, about the social tape-measure they must use to determine their individual worth.
The bans, if fully enforced, would suggest to women (and many men) that they should not let others be arbiters of their beauty. And perhaps faintly, they hint that people should look to intangible qualities like character and intellect rather than dieting their way to size zero or wasp-waist physiques.
The French measures, however, rely too much on severe punishment to change a culture that still regards beauty as skin-deep — and bone-showing. Under the law, using a fashion model that does not meet a government-defined index of body mass could result in a $85,000 fine and six months in prison.
The fashion industry knows it has an inherent problem in focusing on material adornment and idealized body types. In Denmark, the United States, and a few other countries, it is trying to set voluntary standards for models and fashion images that rely more on peer pressure for enforcement.
In contrast to France’s actions, Denmark’s fashion industry agreed last month on rules and sanctions regarding the age, health, and other characteristics of models. The newly revised Danish Fashion Ethical Charter clearly states: “We are aware of and take responsibility for the impact the fashion industry has on body ideals, especially on young people.’ The charter’s main tool of enforcement is to deny access for designers and modeling agencies to Copenhagen Fashion Week, which is run by the Danish Fashion Institute. But in general it relies on a name-and-shame method of compliance.
Relying on ethical persuasion rather than law to address the misuse of body ideals may be the best step. Even better would be to help elevate notions of beauty beyond the material standards of a particular industry.