In today’s Fashion Marketing Online course in conjunction with Central Saint Martins Students we discussed how Psychology plays a significant role on our choices in fashion.

There are many techniques that can be used by fashion marketers and retailers and WOM or Word Of Mouth (to those not in the know) is one that is probably the most cost effective and if managed carefully the MOST effective form of marketing. I hark back to 1986 and a campaign to sell off shares in British Gas. Now it is not fashion marketing per se but the method of marketing used that I want to highlight. WOM. On 8 December 1986 British Gas shares floated on the London stock market. In the hope of encouraging individuals to become shareholders, the offer was advertised with the “If you see Sid…Tell him!” campaign. The campaign encouraged individuals to spout the communicable line “If you see Sid Tell Him” using WOM to tell one another through word of mouth, it was effective as the initial public offering of 135p per share valued the company at £9 billion, the highest equity offering ever at the time.

I guess you could say this was one of the earlier types of “Viral Marketing using TV, good old advertising billboards and word of mouth to get the message across

This was just one of many adverts for British Gas using this method, yet again this is an early example of “Sharing Is Caring.

You only have to look as the phenomena of Instagram to see how much we as consumers want to share, the need to feel accepted and be part of a group and or society feeds heavily into the psyche. Marc-Alain Descamps, French philosopher and psychologist states that the psychology of fashion is “An over determined phenomenon which expresses at the same time the individual, the society, the unconscious and one’s own personal evolution” – Vogue

What are additional methods of fashion marketing that have been successful? The VIPS model of marketing was purported by David Bernstein within the F.C.U.K adverts. Simply put the adverts were genius and held true to the ethos of VIPS.

Visibility – Easily noticed – this relates to how many potential consumers will see the advert, eye catching and attention grabbing, something that makes the viewer take an interest in the advert and the logo certainly made you look twice if not thrice;

Identity – Advertiser’s brand/product must not be hidden by bad design; the FCUK logo became a code of identity within itself. Only after its initial presence and eventual recognition did it become an advert that people were talking about. The logo was shocking and made you look twice which in advertising terms is gold! “When I first saw the French Connection campaign I was shocked by how such a simple message could be so provocative. It perfectly encapsulates the culturally aware aesthetic of modern youth. It manages to be brainy and in your face at the same time (like a Tarantino movie) which ultimately makes it hip.” – Ian R. Webb Fashion Writer

 Promise – The offer must be made clearly, this was different in the case of the FCUK brand as it took some time for the public to identify with the brand, however it was marketing genius as The French Connection campaign unsurprisingly gained a lot of media attention, as it was seen not just as bold and controversial but it also altered the way in which fashion was advertised. I do not believe any other campaigns were as provocative aside from Benetton whose campaigns shocked but also offended quite a few people. They never really came back from their controversy. Eventually the shock tactics backfired on the Italian brand.

 Single-mindedness – Concentrated on its purpose. The campaigns objective was to ensure that the public sat up and took notice. The intent was to get consumers to reassess the brand and to increase footfall which ultimately it did!

If you want to read more about psychology in fashion I suggest you read “The Why of Buy – Consumer behaviour and Fashion Marketing” – Patricia Mink Rath, Stefani Bay, Richard Petrizzi and Penny Gill.

Ms Willbaforce