Newswise — Winston-Salem, N.C. -- Consumers used to looking for clothing on sale may have to find value somewhere other than the price tag.
“The chickens are coming home to roost,” says Sheri Bridges, associate professor of marketing at Wake Forest University. “Sooner or later higher costs of raw materials and manufacturing have to be passed along to consumers. Otherwise, the company won’t be able to invest in our future happiness by developing the newer, better products we all want.”
The cost of cotton and overseas labor is driving clothing prices higher after a period when retailers and clothing makers held costs down during the recession. “When clothing prices more accurately reflect true product costs,” Bridges says, “consumers should base their choices on perceived value or ‘the bundle of benefits’ that function as an alternative to price considerations alone.”
In general, clothing benefits include fit, feel and function. Bridges offers suggestions for what to consider before purchasing that next pair of jeans or suit.
•How does this brand or item of clothing fit my body AND my self-image?
•How does this brand or item of clothing make me feel? Feel good = look good
•What does this brand or item of clothing communicate about me and my self-image—fashionable, stylish, innovative, individualistic, etc.?
•Can I count on or continue to count on this brand to make me feel and look good?
•Is this particular item of clothing a statement (a here-and-now fashionable piece) or an investment (a timeless classic)?
Bridges says good marketers know that the key to retaining customers in the face of rising prices is continuing to provide value. “It’s much worse for a brand to make quality cuts than to increase prices. A brand is a company’s insurance policy.” Bridges says. “If the brand doesn’t deliver on its promise, trust is broken, and it’s very hard to get loyal consumers back when you’ve broken faith.”