Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Good day peeps, hope the day has been great!

If you have not heard it before, let me tell you that fashion is such a fickle industry!! A good knowledge of marketing goes a long way. You don't need to go as far as taking courses to succeed in the marketplace, but you need to have a solid understanding of the basics of marketing. A brand can be the best thing since slice bread in one day and out the next and so goes the talent and reputation of the team behind the brand. Just look at John Galliano and that should tell you something!

How can a fashion brand survive long enough then to establish growth within the market?

In this post I will be looking at some marketing strategies that can enable a womenswear brand for example to have some growth within the African fashion industry.

Firstly, let’s start with the marketing mix – Product, Place, Price, and Promotion. I am also going to look at how people can affect your market penetration.

Mainstream fashion is dominated by seasonal changes and so fashion styles can be incredibly short-lived due to the ever changing trends in fashion. In the African fashion industry however, our seasonal occurrence is very different from the mainstream and thus it is very difficult for our fashion brands to totally capitalise on the fashion trends like their mainstream counterparts.

To develop a brand and achieve market penetration it is essential therefore that the team behind the brand is consistently able to create its own future trends and be original in the look that they are trying to achieve/create. The major issue within the African fashion market right now is the lack of originality and creativity. The fashion industry may regurgitate what has been done before, that is true, but what makes it new is the approach, the creativity and the reasoning behind the creation.

The company must ensure that its target clients’ needs are met, the values and primary objectives of the company is also being demonstrated throughout.

If the target consumers are teenagers, then the team must know that African teenagers from wealthy families as well as those living abroad are highly attuned to the ever changing fashion trends more than ever before. They also have a highly disposable income and are heavily influenced by the celebrities and popular culture. So, they will need to develop products that are comparable in quality to those found abroad and their marketing techniques must be up to par as well.

To achieve market penetration it is necessary that the brand’s pricing structure is consistent with the quality of its products. For example, you should not produce a dress without lining, without any evidence of any major pattern/cut/thought put into the dress; as they call it in Cameroon “cut am nail am” and then charge £100 for it and expect someone to pay for it. This is absurd! Let your pricing be realistic and in keeping with your target market. Let your pricing be in keeping with the cost of production. Cheap fabric + cheap labour = cheap asking price in my opinion.

Know who your customers are and keep your asking price to what they can afford.

How can you know about your target markets’ affordability? Market research! Do not just talk to your circle of friends, venture out of it to get a general picture for your pricing strategy.

Naturally, a brand’s place = location is a key marketing element.

Today, shopping experience is a leisure activity. You must intend to facilitate customers’ brand expectations and ideally even try to surpass them. A little creativity should be injected into how the fashion items are displayed in a shop for example.

For those brands who can afford a physical space, a prime location should be a must. It must be accessible, convenient, with ample parking around, good road, it must also provide an “experience” for its target customers as well as contain the right socio-economic demographic mix.

Target spaces include high streets in affluent areas – Lekki, Victoria Island (Nigeria), Bonapriso, Akwa, (Cameroon), malls (Ghana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Uganda) etc

For those brands that cannot afford a physical space, an online presence is a must. You cannot expect to grow a brand without a functional website. So therefore, building an online presence that consistently reproduces your brand, products and service levels as if it were a physical store is a major priority and boost.

The shop front, window area, interior decoration, lighting, layout, signage, sales literature, and staff behaviour and appearance all play a major role in attracting the right consumer, enticing them into the store and encouraging them to browse through the items, ask questions and make a purchase.

The overall aim is to recreate a consistent brand experience for your customers and prospects. Consistency breeds expectation, familiarity and confidence in a brand. African shoppers now demand and expect a consistent brand experience so please ensure this is at the top of your priority list.

What could you do to make shopping at your establishment an experience?

  • Run regular out of hours champagne (or wine) and canapés fashion events which are invitation only. This builds on the luxury/indulgence experience which is associated with premium fashion retailing.
  • Offer a “loyalty lounge/corner” with beautifully upholstered sofas and complimentary refreshments and even discounts for multi buys, which can act as a meeting point or refuge from the high street for loyal customers and tempt them to purchase multi items.
  • Sip and learn events – this can act as a great way to advise your customers about the production steps of the items you make for example. What types of fabrics are used, why certain stitches are used on the pieces and how it affects or improves durability, what they could do to ensure that they get the most out of the items they purchase from you (washing/wearing tips). This improves the customer/brand relationship.

To ensure you penetrate the market and develop your brand will require for you to develop key promotional strategies which may include the following:-

Public Relations: PR
A good PR agency with a proven track record and knowledge about the African fashion market is essential however you will need to pay a hefty sum as their services won’t be cheap. You could also use a not so experienced (emerging) PR consultant or agency that are aware of what they need to do and have the knowledge too.

A good PR agency/consultant will have the knowledge and direct relationships with trade, editors and fashion writers/critics who influence the industry and consumer behaviour.

Together you need to:

  • Agree on the messages that reflect the brand.
  • Agree on how to communicate these messages out to the consumer and channel partners.
  • Look at suitable media channels that you want to target and their target audience.
In the UK market for example, targeting magazines with large black readership such as New African Woman, FAB Magazine, Black Hair and Beauty, Pride Magazine, is a must. Also magazines such as Marie Claire (SA), Glamour (SA) and Elle (SA) are advisable. Also, nothing should stop you from venturing your brand outside of your comfort zones – ie, contacting mainstream magazines for a feature/cover.

PR is an excellent tool for building a brand, raising awareness and it can be critically important in crisis limitation should a brand run into trouble for example.

A coherent advertising strategy that is consistent with the brand’s message and desired objective is needed alongside a solid PR strategy too.

What are needed are the segmentation of the target audience and an identification of the products, media and message for delivery and measurement. You will also need suitable advertising agencies and media buyers that can develop inspiring, engaging and informative campaigns that attract the target markets and attain results.

African fashion brands need to start developing integrated campaigns that repeatedly reinforce the brand’s messages via the different mediums available. I would like to see a Jewel by Lisa or Imane Ayissi, Mustapha Hassanali ad campaigns around London or Paris and even Douala and Accra! These brands are heavy weights within the African fashion market and need to uphold this image which they have created for themselves.

Sales Promotion:
Developing a sales promotion strategy will be another key element of your brand building/market penetration strategy. This strategy might include the development and launch of new product lines for customers to try and retailers to stock and promote.

Other sales promotions might include competitions, one day sales and free gifts. The company could also provide point-of-sale materials and special promotions for its retailers’ network, for example.

Packaging is also part of the brand experience. It offers an excellent opportunity to further differentiate the brand and product lines from those of the brand’s competitors.

The packaging can communicate facts about the quality of production or reinforce brand messages about indulgence and luxury. Materials such as soft wrapping paper, ribbons, and small decoration balls could be used to give the presentation that added umph.

The company logo or name, website or contact info should always be seen on the packaging in my opinion as this is a great and free way to advertise your brand to the public.

As ecological issues are ever-more on the consumers’ minds, it might be that the company uses recycled materials to produce the packaging, and publishes its “green” credentials as well as other marketing and sales materials.

Probably one of the most critical factors in achieving brand recognition and success is the people you employ and choose to work with. Developing excellent working relationships with third party suppliers and service providers is vital in making or destroying your business. Your brands reputation might often be in the hands of an individual or company outside of your own organisation.

Be keen to develop and grow your brand because how your company recruits, trains, supports, pays, incentivises and disciplines staff will all be critically important to your company’s ultimate success or failure.

The company’s frontline staffs are the face and living embodiment of the brand. How they interact with the customers, their product knowledge, and speed of service, attitude and demeanour will be almost as important as how well the products perform. Ultimately the customers are buying more than just a product; they are buying a brand experience, a life style statement, a luxury, indulgence or fantasy. Therefore ensure you are investing the right amount of time in developing your staffs and if the customer service I see in Cameroon represents those in most African stores or boutiques then a lot has to be invested in customer relation training. Also ensure your staff feel valued and do reward them for their loyalty and hard work.

To ensure that everyone within the company and all the channel partners are completely aligned with your brand promises and how they deliver them consistently will require that the company invests in a coherent, continuous internal marketing and communications strategy.

Stay fashionable!
(various online research. Pic from online)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Hello peeps, hope you are having a fabulous week thus far. Today I would like to bring to you my first fashion brand analysis. I hope it is insightful and I also hope that this blog can become a reference point to all those fashion brands cropping up everyday in the African fashion industry. A lot has to be done on the branding and marketing of these labels and first and foremost they need to be considered as a business in order for these designers to invest the time and money in developping a branding and marketing strategy for growth purpose.

Please read and I do appreciate feedbacks!

The brand I am going to look at today is Jewel by Lisa. This brand has not been going for that long but within this period it has managed to penetrate and position itself into the minds of fashionistas in Nigeria, South Africa, UK, US, in short - worldwide!!
Brand Bio:
Created in 2005, Jewel by Lisa is a luxury fashion brand with a strong clientele that creates lifelong treasures encouraging its clients to wear over and over again.

Their goal is to cater to the Nigerian market, creating desirable, one-of-a kind luxury pieces while establishing itself as an international label.

It remains one of the true brands that people respect for re-inventing Ankara textiles into covetable pieces.

Designer Bio:
In 2005 Lisa Folawiyo a law graduate from the University of Lagos, Nigeria; with no formal fashion education and her team of expert craftsmen stormed onto the Nigerian fashion scene with Jewel by Lisa.

Brand Personality:
“International Chic”

Brand Target:
The woman who wears Jewel by Lisa can be described as “a stylish, confident, city chic woman with a wardrobe filled with desirable eclectic pieces picked up from her travels; her youthful exuberance speaks effortless and unrehearsed style. She also understands fashion. (According to Lisa Folawiyo).

Brand Image:
One of a kind pieces - luxury
Intricate workmanship – quality
Handcrafted - luxury

How does Jewel by Lisa add Value?
By associating itself with many renowned international urban and mainstream stars as mentioned below. With the buying public striving hard to emulate what their adored celebrities are wearing or buying, it is evident that celebrity endorsement certainly adds value to a brand. However, the brand has to carefully vet the celebrities who are seen in their items so as to not lower the brand reputation.

Taking part in the debut Arise Africa Fashion Week in South Africa, New York Fashion Week as well as an exhibition at Paris Fashion Week, also adds value to the brand as the target demographic for the magazine and shows are women who are interested in high end fashion (and usually have the income to go with it!).

The main headquarters being situated at Ribadu Street, Lagos, which seems to be an affluent area with offices, swanky restaurants and private hospitals, adds value to the brand as the rather exclusive nature of the area sits perfectly with the branding of the label as one which is exclusive but yet affordable and attainable.

Competitive Advantage:
Brands create competitive advantage by perceiving or discovering new and better ways to compete in an industry and bringing them to the market. Thus a brand’s relative position within an industry is given by its choice of competitive advantage (cost leadership vs. differentiation) and its choice of competitive scope. Competitive scope distinguishes between brands targeting broad industry segments and those focusing on a narrow segment.

Fashion brands rely heavily on using their image to differentiate themselves from their competition.

Differentiation Strategy:
How is JBL thus using its brand’s image to differ itself from its competitors?

In the African fashion market, what is truly lacking with most of the brands is the perceived uniqueness existing in mainstream that allows one label to differ itself from another.

For the haute couture connoisseurs, it is very easy for example for them to tell a Chanel fashion piece from a Prada piece.


In my opinion, the amount of years these labels have been in existence has enabled them to totally carve a niche for themselves in the market. Chanel was founded in 1922 and has been going strong since with Karl Lagerfeld at the helm appointed since 1983. Prada on the other hand too was founded in 1913 with Miuccia Prada as the head designer since 1978. The continuity of both brands’ image has been kept through and the brand philosophy continues to run through the way the business is developped.

In the African fashion market, the brand differentiation is debatable however some of the existing brands are taking notice and are looking for ways to bring out this differentiation. It is now easy to tell a Christie Brown piece from an Eki Orleans for example.

JBL have also followed suit in creating a unique selling point for their brand. The team have taken to producing their own fabric which definitely gives the brand perceived uniqueness and creates a competitive advantage within the industry.

Product design:
The quality and upmarket fabrics used in creating Jewel by Lisa pieces puts emphasis on the brand’s desire to set itself apart from the rest and become a luxury yet affordable brand.

Within six years Lisa has perfected the art of turning Ankara into a coveted luxury wear through the embellishment of the fabric with sequins, Swarovski crystals, and beads.

This labour intensive production (it apparently takes up to 120 hours to make one JBL piece!) and only use of high quality embellishments demonstrates the label’s continuous strife to not compromise itself but to uphold the quality and luxury attributed to the brand.

Celebrity Endorsement:
A favourite of celebrities including E! News correspondent Catt Sadler, Beyoncé, Kelis, Eve, Solange Knowles, Tasha Smith, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Kendall Jenner and Nneka. Also top fashion models including Freha Beja Erichsen, Liya Kebede, Alek Wek, and Oluchi have also been seen wearing Jewel by Lisa’s pieces.

Advertising and promotion:
The main tool used to inform the public about the existence of a product or service is by advertising and promotion. In 2010 alone, more than USD 500,000,000 was spent on advertising worldwide. However, I wonder how much this figure relates to Africa and especially the African fashion industry.

As such, advertising can therefore be defined as a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products or services with the desired result being to drive consumer behaviour.

Various traditional media include mass media such as newspaper, magazines, television, radio, outdoor advertising (bill boards) and direct marketing. New media refers to online and text messages.

What Methods of Advertising and Promotion does JBL employ?
The advertising method widely used to put the JBL brand image out there has been through the use of online mediums such as the social mediums (Twitter, Facebook) – the most cost effective and direct marketing strategy of the moment, blogs (One Nigerian Boy, Africa Style Daily, Style House Files) and online magazines (Ladybrille, Bella Naija, Haute Fashion Africa) – all these are very popular instruments within the Nigerian (African) entertainment and fashion industry.

It is no doubt that the JBL camp have more than clocked on the importance of and the viral nature of the world wide web in keeping their brand constant in the minds of their target market and in reaching and making contacts with new territories and markets. As Lisa commented, Jewel by Lisa’s goal is to cater to the Nigerian market whilst establishing itself as an international brand. Being ‘seen’ within the popular Nigerian blogs for example enables JBL to be on the right path to meeting its primary goal.

Using these mediums as well as creating its own branded short films such as “Life as a Jewelete”, featuring in high quality fashion events such as New York and Paris Fashion Weeks, appearing in African publications such as Arise, Fab, True Love, ThisDay Style, Genevieve, Marie Claire(SA), Glamour (SA) coupled with features in a North American publication “IN New York magazine” and New York Post (when you talk fashion, you talk New York!), featuring on the new BBC online's "African Dream" series as well as appearing in the very popular Studio 53 showcased across Africa and the world over enables JBL to fulfil its primary goal of amassing a following within the Nigerian market while at the same time slowly establishing itself as a luxury international brand.

What other means of advertising and promotion could they employ?
What seems to be lacking again within the African fashion and beauty market is the lack of branded adverts and product placements. Whilst some brands are making the effort to look for alternative ways to reach their target markets and expose themselves, most are still doing nothing and/or are relying heavily on word of mouth or only social networking sites. Whilst this is great, it is definitely  not the only way to go.

Some suggestions which could be suitable for JBL’s image are as per below.
  • Television advertising (branded short videos are shown on tv). If JBL is not already doing so maybe this could be their biggest form of promotion for the brand. If they started airing in Nigeria and then slowly moving the advert to other strategic parts of Africa such as South Africa, Ghana, North Africa and then slowly to the Middle East and then Europe (UK, France, Netherlands, Italy – areas with large African populations).
  • Infomercials – a long format television commercial typically 5 minutes or longer could be used to promote a new collection for example. The main objective in this would be to create an impulse purchase, so that the consumer sees the presentation and then can immediately buy the product through the company website maybe. This could also work well during a JBL sale.
  • Product placements – when a product or brand is embedded in entertainment and media. What JBL could do here is target some of the leading Nollywood actresses with a great reputation such as Omotola Jalade Ekeinde or Genevieve Nnaiji and dress them up (or provide some outfits) in big budget films for example Ije and Mirror Boy. JBL could also have the stars wear their accessories or have the film set decorated with some JBL soft furnishings such as their scented candles for example.
  • Billboard & Mobile Board advertising – many mainstream brands are using these to ensure they target as many people as they can. JBL could also use billboards located in an area(s) that covers their target market in Nigeria to advertise their brand. They could also use appropriate intercity buses to plug especially their J Label products which targets the poppy crowd.
  • Celebrity branding – this type of advertising focuses upon using celebrity power, fame and popularity to gain recognition for their products. The brand specifically pays the celebrity to be seen in their product(s). In this case, the right celebrity has to be vetted to ensure that they are in keeping with the primary focus of the brand. Using rising Nollywood stars, Genevieve Nnaiji or Stephanie Okereke could be ideal. For an international star, using Solange Knowles, Kim Kardashian or maybe Julia Restoin Roitfeld, could catapult the brand to another level!
At this brand's stage, the team now need to ensure that there is a greater focus on the advertising and promotion of the brand. By increasing its advertising and promotion mediums, Jewel by Lisa will definitely reap the benefits and differentiate itself from its competitors however I fully understand that funding/financial investment within African fashion brands remains one of the biggest obstacles.

Nevertheless, like with any business start up it is essential that the business owner projects its total running costs within a certain period and raises that amount or has a way to raise that amount before releasing the business to the public. Most African fashion brands throw the brand out there without having a real business focus or a realistic business plan.

Making funds available, finding investors who can inject more finance into the brand to enable them grow the brand should also be on the top of JBL's marketing list.

Product distribution is one of the four elements of the marketing mix. It is the organisation or a set of organisations (go-betweens) involved in the process of making a product available for use by a consumer.

The other three big P’s being product, pricing and promotion (to be discussed at a latter post).

Distribution is a very important component of Logistics and Supply chain management. It refers to the distribution of a good from one business onto another. It is defined as a chain of intermediaries; each passing the product down the chain to the next organisation before it finally reaches the end user or consumer. Each of the elements in these chains will have their own specific needs, which the producer must take into account, along with those of the important end user.

What is JBL’s Marketing and Distribution Channels?
The brand seems to have gone with the typical pattern of “Selective distribution” suitable especially with fashion products. This is where suitable retailers are selected to stock their product as well as items from other competitors.

Resellers currently stocking Jewel by Lisa products are:-

  • Curve – high end multi clothing boutique located in Los Angeles. It also stocks labels including DVF and Jennifer Lopez has been seen shopping there.
  • Zainab – thought to be the best kept secret in Los Angeles according to Stocks clothing and accessories by African designers including Azzedine Alaia.
  • African Mosaique – located in Jo’burg and founded by former Ethiopian model Anne Getaneh.
  • Eves Apple – an online retailer that also stock DVF, Halston etc
  • My Asho – an online store that stocks a wide range of clothing and accessories by African designers.
  • Temple Muse – located on the affluent Victoria Island in Lagos. A rather exclusive store that stocks other high end African and mainstream fashion labels.
For a brand that has been in existence for only 6 years, it is evident that Jewel by Lisa’s marketing channels are enabling the brand to slowly move into different market territories, creating a presence within that market, connecting with fashion followers and slowly building up a reputation and market share within that fashion market.

The importance of a functional website to any business is paramount. It serves as a first point of contact between your brand and potential customers. It advises (about brand), connects (contacts), displays (products – collections) and informs (events/press).

The label’s new look website depicting their autumn/winter 2011 collection completely befits its target image. Millen Magese, the Tanzanian model who is currently the face of the brand is also a perfect fit however her popularity within the target consumers’ minds isn’t as high as models such as Alek Wek, Oluchi and Liya Kebede.
The website is clean and carefully designed to ensure that the surfing experience is enjoyable and easy. Well done team JBL!!

Product Expansion:
J Label:
The J Label is a strong combination of urban cool, afro-pop, and cutting edge beautifully crafted clothes. It is affordable luxury at its best, according to Lisa.

J Label line is inspired by colour, print, pattern, lines and shapes all to bring about a fusion of African and Western fashion, which the typical JBL’s woman can relate to.

The label has realised the potential of also catering to another segment of their target market. Urban cool, afro pop, affordable fashion relates to the younger tier of the market ages 18-25.

Recently, the label has widened its business opportunities by producing its own fabrics ranging from Velvet, Crepe Silk, Satin, Chiffon, Shantung and Linen.

JBL has also ventured into making jewelled accessories such as belts, necklaces, and clutches as well as soft furnishings including scented candles.

Some pictures from the new collection fronted by Millen as below.

Their Arise press coverages.

So, there goes my analysis of the JBL brand. They are doing a lot of things right and with a greater focus on developping advertising and promotion campaigns/strategies, the sky is not even their limit! Their product expansion also shows great initiative of not focusing only on one market segment.
Overall, I am well impressed, well done team JBL!

Please do not forget to leave your feedback below or email me at
Follow me on twitter @brownschuga.
(All pictures from JBL website

Stay fashonionable

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Today, I will be looking at the concept of Brand Positioning in marketing your business.

Positioning is, “The act of designing the company's offering and image so that they occupy a meaningful and distinct competitive position in the target customers’ minds” (Kotler 1997).

Positioning is not about the product but actually what the customer thinks about the product or organisation. Therefore it is about visibility and recognition of what a product represents to a buyer.

The case study today will be...


Target crowd:

• Males

• Females

• Children


• Teens

• To middle aged


• Positions itself as the cheapest fashion clothing brand in the UK and does not follow advertising rules to emphasise this.


• Easily affordable fashion

• Wide range of fashion pieces

• Easy to reach stores


• Does not have a meaningful position in customers’ minds as being fashion forward.

• Big gap in quality

• Simply ‘cheap’

Some Branding suggestions:

• Create an illusion of youth culture by being fresh and forward with the newest fashions.

• Create ethical lines which could help remove the mass production image it has.

• Online store would be an asset for their teenage followers. It would position them as the most accessible online store with the newest fashion.

So that is it from me today. Next stop onto an African fashion brand.
Stay Fashionable!

(online research)