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Study Case Discussion Essay

The underlying theme within this case as well as the reasoning behind the proposed strategic alternative is: how to increase the sales and alter the consumption habits of the target consumer market. We describe the industry and the company’s position within the industry the behavioral aspects of the target consumer market and its relationship to this company. After careful study of theoretical reasoning, we’ve found that consumers with lower self-esteem tend to spend less.

Our strategic alternatives therefore attempt to enable the consumers to increase their self-esteem and thus, altering their consumption behavior in favor of shopping at Lane Bryant and Lane Bryant’s new boutique shop, Cacique. The strategic alternatives that they propose are: 1. Implement new clothing lines which address the issue of differing “shapes” among women, as opposed to the traditional numerical sizing method. 2. Implement a marketing strategy which will discard the usage of the term “plus-size” and coin new terminology, such as “normal sizing”. 3. Implement a two-pronged approach, running parallel programs that utilize both new lines for shape-based sizing, as well as a marketing program using new terminology.

The Lane Bryant is implementing by manufacturing new clothing lines that appeal to shape-based consumption, as well implantation of the marketing program in more traditional methods, such as advertising and celebrity.

1. INTRODUCTION This case study explores how plus-size female consumers perceive their bodies and themselves, how their self-esteem, body-image and self-concept, self-consciousness and cachexia may influence involvement with clothing, and how these factors may impact their perceptions of the importance of plus-size store and clothes attributes. Additionally, how the aforementioned concepts factor into their consumption practices. Fat, big, over-weight, full-figured, big and beautiful and curvy all have one thing in common: they are another way of saying “plus-sized”, which is considered a derogatory term for most female consumers.

This plus-size term is the equivalent for men’s plus-size clothing term big and tall, but big and tall in the USA is not considered derogatory and in most situations is considered sexy. Plus-size is a clothing category for women size 14 and up. The term “plus-size” was first used to represent those women who were larger or taller than the sizing average. 1 Over the years the term “plus-size” has gained a negative perception and attitude toward it. However, there still remains a major need for plus-size clothes. “According to a 2008 survey conducted by Mintel, a market-research firm, the most frequently worn size in America is a 14. Government statistics show that 64 percent of American women are overweight (the average woman weighs 164.7 pounds). More than one-third are obese. Yet plus-size clothing (typically size 14 and above) represents only 18 percent of total revenue in the women’s clothing industry.”


The following issues have been identified with the Plus-Size clothing industry: 1. Not enough in-store choices for plus-size women

2. Not enough body shape customization

3. Negative perception and attitudes toward the category, “Plus-Size”.

2.0 DISCUSSION QUESTIONS I. Explain the success that Lane Bryant is currently experiencing in relation to self-concept, self-esteem, and self-consciousness. How can the plus-size industry leverage what we know about consumer behavior to address self-esteem issues?

Women use clothes to express their individualism and let the world know who they are which leads to an increase in self-esteem. This lack of body shape customization for female consumers that leads to a reduction in their self-concept, (i.e., the beliefs they hold about their own attributes and how they evaluate their self on these qualities) and self-esteem (the positivity of one’s self-concept) this lack of positive self-esteem results in less consumption. Less consumption happens because people with low self-esteem expect that they will not be looked upon favorably and attempts to avoid embarrassment, failure, or rejection (i.e., shopping at plus-size retailers like Lane Bryant).

If plus-size retailers like Lane Bryant were able to create shapelier plus-size clothes for women it would lead to a potential increase in sales. The negative perception and attitudes toward the category of “Plus-Size”, (i.e., fat, ugly and full-figured). A person’s view of their physical appearance plays a large part of their self- concept and body-image. This issue also concentrates on behavioral issues in buying products, such as, self-esteem, public self- consciousness, body- image and body cathexis. In effect, the industry ironically uses a term that for the most part encourages the development of lower self-esteem, immediate awareness of body image, and potentially embarrassing social interactions, (i.e., being seen by peers shopping for “plus-size” clothes or shopping at a “plus-size” store). Consumer’s usage of this term exhibits a direct and social differentiation between so-called “plus-size” consumers and their peers.

According to Charming Shoppes, which owns Lane Bryant, “sales are actually stronger at the higher end of the size range. “With bridge” — here connoting sizes 14 to 18 — “you have that notion of, ‘It’s temporal for me; I’m going back to a 10 or 12.’ This is a woman who might have been a size 8 or 10 earlier in her life, and she doesn’t easily adjust to the idea that she has gotten bigger.” In other words, the larger a woman is, the more likely she is to be settled with her self-image”

The idea that most plus-sized women are still feeling that their current “plus-size” is only temporary proves there is a need for a perception and attitude change. Because of this plus-size consumers purchase less “plus-sized” clothes with the idea that they will be returning to their normal size soon. Plus-size consumers who feel this way would be more motivated to purchase clothes that fit them if there were no negative or adverse perceptions and attitudes toward “plus-size” clothes. Furthermore if plus-size consumers were more acceptant and confident about their current body size and body image it would lead to a potential increase in sales.

II. Discuss the real-world changes that appear to be occurring with respect to media images of women. What are the reasons for this? With the plus-size clothing industry at a critical turning point, where it has grown and is continuing to grow it leaves room for Lane Bryant and other plus-size retailers to expand. A market research report conducted by IBISWorld returned the following results. According to IBISWorld analyst, Nikoleta Panteva, the plus-sized fashion industry segment is bucking the trend. Retailers in this industry specialize in plus-size women’s clothing, which is clothing proportioned specifically for larger women, including plus-size dresses, plus-size pants, plus-size tops and plus-size outerwear.

“The fashion industry is increasingly catering to the plus-sized demographic by using larger models on the runway and in magazine spreads,” says Panteva. “This has already spurred demand from the plus-size market, so stores that can meet this need will also find a place in the domestic industry.” The plus-size market still has some way to go to really hit the big time. Many plus-size stores remain isolated in strip malls and shopping centers and the recession hurt the largest plus-sized clothing retailer – Charming Shoppes – forcing the closure of many stores. About 75.0% of its merchandise caters to the plus-size demographic.

The company operates about 2,100 retail outlets in 48 states under three distinct brands: Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug and Catherines Plus Sizes. In addition to closing 150 underperforming stores in 2008, the retailer halved its budget for new store openings during 2009. Company growth post-recession will arise from its ability to sell to a growth market. With half of American women wearing size 14 or larger, the company’s focus on plus-size apparel will continue to be its key advantage. 15 Also, according to Pittsburg Post Gazette, $32 billion plus-size apparel market has grown by 50 percent in the past five years.16 These two examples clearly demonstrate that there is a major need more growth that will lead to a potential increase in profits for the whole plus-size clothes industry.

III. How do you reconcile the greater degree of plus-size women with the parallel emphasizes our society continues to place on thinness (as evidenced by the billions we spend on diet products, exercise, and so on)? Given the health problems associated with obesity (heart disease, diabetes, etc.) should the industry continue to encourage this acceptance?

The degree of plus-size women with the parallel of emphasizing our society continue to place the thinness programs ahead for the healthy lifestyle can make the plus-size women fashion move on for another segments because the decrease of the customers. The customers will make the decision n the past decades, media images of women revolve more on those that are slim and trim – those who are silken haired and high cheekbone (par .1. However, for the past decade, a great change has been occurring concerning the stereotypical image of women. As Stein stated in the article, today, the average woman wears a size 14 compared with a size 8 about 15 years ago (par .3.

As a result, Lane Bryant has hired the American Idol runner-up , Kimberly Locke , who does not just have the curves and the talent but also the confidence and the self-esteem , which proves that fashion is not just for the slim women Real-world media images of women appear to be taking a complete turn this century toward the plus size women. The most evident reason lies on the present trend of the environment. As American female sizes lean more and more toward the curvy ones, the future of women’s fashion revolve more around designs that fit those who are under the plus size Thanks to the effort of the plus size retailers in the past century.

The contrast of this plus-size fashion will encourage not healthy lifestyle because they think they are great in that shape. It should not to be encouraged for the society.

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