Retail offer advantage through brand orientation in Luxury, high fashion stores
This thesis provides a conceptualisation of brand orientation within the context of fashion retailing, specially the luxury, or, so-called, high fashion retailing. Most of the high fashion sold today is ready to wear collections and diffusion lines, targeted to customers of particular class, age, income, social status, and with particular orientations to fashion. In plethora of offers, retailer need to work on a number of distinctive features that will make its store special, not only because of the clothes it carries, but also because of the store location and image, aesthetics and atmosphere, staff and its attitude, communication messages, celebrities endorsements, etc. One way retailers have sought to differentiate their stores, and develop sustainable competitive advantage is through branding not only the products, but the total store experience. Branding is endemic in retailing, where products, ranges and the company itself may be branded, and is currently the dominant strategy around which retail competition is structured. Brand orientation expressed through brand’s distinctiveness, functional, value adding and symbolic dimensions which are tightly connected to retail mix elements including merchandise, communication messages, trading format and customer service, is “responsible” for the success of the luxury fashion stores, selling either their own or other manufacturers’ brands. Previous studies suggested that to maintain a competitive advantage, a fashion retailer needs to translate its core values into coherent brand strategy, and more brand oriented the retailer the greater its offer advantage, because, at the heart of brand orientation is the pursuit of competitor differentiation. In this thesis, the case of contemporary Greek clothing retailer characterized as “lifestyle retail brand” will be examined on the basis of the brands it carries, services unique for local market that “add value” before and after the purchase, selective “branded” staff, smart communication messaging, exclusive location, prestigious clientele, etc. In other words, the leadership position of particular high fashion retailer is explained by focusing on its brand oriented strategies implemented in its multi-brand and mono-brand luxury stores.