Communications Essay

A Critical Review of H&M 2016 Advertising Campaign “She’s a Lady.”

            The “She’s a lady” advertisement was part of H&M’s campaign to promote diversity to move their products. This strategy was greatly influenced by an emerging trend in a fast fashion where companies are slowly endorsing the idea of creating designs that project an aura of empowerment among women. The advert features a range of women including muscular, black, lesbian, and transgender. Initially, this advert received a substantial amount of backlash from conservative groups such as One Million Moms. It was deemed inappropriate because it featured women kissing while wearing lingerie and the transgender aspect of it led to many people taking offense. The latter is because the woman featured in the advert, who was identified as Fatima Pinto, appeared as a “man dressed as a woman” in one segment.

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            While this is one way of looking at it, the advert presented an opportunity for celebrating women who are generally sidelined when it comes to fashion trends. Cynicism aside, this advert is both creative and compelling in the sense that it helps to redefine the very aspect of what femininity looks like. Most fashion agencies spend huge funds into advertising to reinforce the notion that femininity must be projected in a certain way. For example, an ideal woman is perceived as one who is slender and white and happens to have just the right amount of hair in all the right places. However, the H&M campaign helped many demographics and the society, in general, to shift from this barbaric idea and embrace a new and fresh idea of femininity. This goes to show just how fast the fashion apparel industry has evolved especially over the last ten years.

Although the H&M Fall 2016 Ad Campaign is praised for empowering female diversity, the company is still facing fierce competition in the fashion industry. Of major concern is how H&M can use strategies such as those adopted in the “She’s a lady” ad to promote low pricing that is capable of rivaling its biggest competitors. One way it can manage to lower prices while remaining profitable is by expanding operations based on the low-cost strategy while still maintaining a lean workforce.

            The pricing strategy of H&M is purely based on consumer preferences which include low prices and high-end fashion products. The pricing strategy that s employed by this brand is the broader pricing range that ensure all customer segments are well-catered for. Even so, the company has successfully managed to combine both fashion and a low pricing strategy to attract customers and foster brand loyalty in the long run. Focusing on cutting own costs has been at the core of H&M and this has enabled it to solidify its position in the fashion industry primarily because its average selling prices for all its products is significantly lower than that of its competitors. The “She’s a Lady” campaign was thoroughly researched on and it incorporated the needs of all consumers, from pricing all the way to quality. All of the apparels featured in the advert are both trendy and chic. Furthermore, it focused more on the latest fashion trends and offered them at reasonable prices too. This enabled the company to launch these products together with several others at regular intervals. It is estimated that about 25% of the clothes stocked by the company include fast-fashion quality products that are appealing to millennials. According to Bhardwaj and Fairhurst, the dynamics of the fashion industry change rapidly and this has forced the companies and retailers as well to come up with more proactive methods that advocate for lower costs, flexibility in design, quality and promptness to market delivery (165). A combination of all these factors is paramount to ensuring that companies maintain a profitable position in an industry where demands in the market are increasing exponentially (Bhardwaj and Fairhurst 165).

            H&M has always strived to stay ahead of its rivals such as Zara, Gap Inc., and Uniqlo Co. by providing low prices for all their products. Nonetheless, it is crucial that the company continually promotes and upholds this trend without wavering. One way of ensuring this is by expanding operations based on the low-cost strategy while still maintaining a smaller workforce. By doing so, the sales volumes are bound to increase substantially and this translates to higher revenues and profit margins in the long-run.

            To achieve this objective, the company has employed a two-pronged approach to ensure they offer both lower prices and quality products. Firstly, it has outsourced the production of apparels to suppliers such as Liz Fashion Industry Limited and to approximately thirty five othercountries where the labor cost is relatively lower. This is a key driver for both success and wider profit margins. From a practical standpoint, outsourcing production to more competent and experienced suppliers, particularly in emerging economies, allows the company to achieve its goal of being fashionable while still maintaining its reduced prices. This is primarily because outsourcing accords the company the upper hand by allowing it to take advantage of the much lower labor costs, few trade barriers, and low costs of inputs and energy in such upcoming economies.In addition to this, the company is also able to focus on environmental sustainability and human rights. Annamma et al. acknowledge that over the last ten years, the issues of ethical conduct and environmental sustainability have slowly taken center stage in the fashion industry, especially in companies such as H&M which have capitalized on affordability and trend-sensitivity (274). In essence, these concerns are directly correlated to corporate social responsibility and better purchasing decisions that have an impact on the sales and profits accrued by a company (Annamma et al. 274; Carroll and Kareem 85; Castelo and Rodrigues 111).

            Outsourcing presents a challenge when it comes to transportation logistics. Regardless, H&M has managed to counteract this obstacle by organizing for transportation according to the different products produced to minimize costs. For instance, the basic apparels are produced in Asia simply because they have the potential to incur lower risks and consequently allow for more transportation time. On the other hand, the high fashion products that are designed to meet the demands of the European market produced in Turkey because they have a shorter product life cycle. Ninety percent of all the shipping is also done by sea, rail or road as a way of reducing running costs. Air transport is rarely used except in circumstances where faster deliveries are needed to replenish stock in the various outlets. Most consumers, particularly the younger segments, always look forward to these products because they are usually low-priced and are trendy and chic. This often results in higher sales of products implying higher profits are accrued periodically because they are released at certain predetermined intervals. Also, the fact that the company has a team of famous designers such as Jimmy Choo also helps to market the products and make them more appealing across the several market segments.

            Looking closely at the “She’s a lady” campaign, the clothes displayed there can be categorized as fast fashion.They include jeans, lingerie, plus size clothes and several others. The advert came at a time when plus size women had troubles getting the right fit for clothes. Though the ad is rather inappropriate because of some scenes which may clash with some religious beliefs and other ideologies, it has helped to create awareness on these very issues. Even better, the ad highlights real-life activities and includes models diverse in age, ethnicity as well as body type. Flexibility has been at the guiding principle of H&M and this is mirrored in this advertisement. It is postulated that this advert raked in huge amounts of revenue and profits because it addressed the vital aspects that go hand-in-hand with the company’s mission and goals. However, no scholarly research has been done that presents financialstatistics to help validate this statement so I will not delve deeper into this area.

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            The second approach that H&M is using to achieve its objectives is enforcing a strict cost control plan. The company trimmed its store opening target as a way of alleviating unnecessary costs in areas that were presumed to be rather dormant. In fact, looking at place as one of the elements of the marketing mix, H&M does not own factories. Instead, it owns close to 2000 outlets on a global scale. The company has shifted its focus from opening new stores to increasing its presence on online platforms in an attempt to increase sales growth by approximately 25%. This is such a creative way to cut down on costs and simultaneously accumulate profits without compromising the company’s overall goal.

            Overall, outsourcing has helped the company to maintain a steady increase in its annual sales because it is a more practical way of cutting down on running costs. Ford et al. argue that it is almost impossible given the current situation of the global market for one to run an enterprise without facing the pressure of globalization and outsourcing (28). Success is determined by how well a company will respond to these factors and turn the obstacles into prospects (Kumar and Samad 73). H&M is the true embodiment that outsourcing is indeed the way to go when cutting cost to maximize on profits is the goal. It is proof that one can actually combine quality and reasonable pricing to drive sales and meet organizational goals. In fact, the company has hadfirst-hand experience with the pressures of globalization and the dynamic changes that are typical to the globalmarket. However, by leaning onto its flexibility principle, it has been able to use it as a business framework to adapt to these pressures and respond promptly to the rapid consumer changes in a superior way than even their competitors.Outsourcing production and manufacturing to skilled suppliers has enabled the company tolower costs tremendously and broaden their profit margins while still emphasizing on quality and fashionable products. It is estimated that should the company remain on its current course, it will scale to greater heights in terms of success and dominate its competitors in the global market in the long-term.

Works Cited

Bhardwaj, Vertica, and Ann Fairhurst. “Fast fashion: response to changes in the fashion industry.” The International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research, 20.1 (2010): 165-173.Print.

Branco, Manuel Castelo, and Lúcia Lima Rodrigues. “Corporate social responsibility and resource-based perspectives.” Journal of Business Ethics69.2 (2006): 111-132.Print.

Carroll, Archie B., and Kareem M. Shabana. “The business case for corporate social responsibility: A review of concepts, research and practice.” International Journal of Management Reviews 12.1 (2010): 85-105.Print.

Ford, John B., et al. “The tension between strategy and execution: Challenges for international advertising research.” Journal of Advertising Research 51.1 (2011): 27-41.Print.

Joy, Annamma, et al. “Fast fashion, sustainability, and the ethical appeal of luxury brands.” Fashion Theory 16.3 (2012): 273-295.Print.

Kumar, Sameer, and A. Arbi Samad. “Outsourcing strategies for apparel manufacture: a case study.” Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management 19.1 (2007): 73-91.Print.

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