Text: Helge Fluch
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Henry Ford’s famous quote is often cited by marketing officials questioning the usefulness of marketing reports and consumer insight. We feel that this is a grave mistake. To put it simply, the marketing of luxury and fashion products today has little to do with the invention of cars one hundred years ago. Marketing seasonal tastes is more complex and an entirely different matter altogether. Knowing what people want does not necessarily imply that you then do what they command. Don’t ask your audience what it is they want. Instead, ask them how they feel about what you have and then make up your mind from there. Over-simplification is dangerous, highly inconvenient and ultimately costly.
What consumers think is reality for them and a reality that brands should make it their business to know about. We wanted to know what young consumers are really thinking. How do they perceive fashion brands? How do they utilize magazines, SNS and the Internet? Over the past two years, we have immersed ourselves in their circles. In a sense, our company exists within and through university networks. Well-connected students, opinion leaders and students in important circles are supplying us with valuable insights and access to the right individuals.
The Japanese magazine market is in constant flux and current developments are proof of this. We see western celebrity styles emanating from cities like LA and foreign blogs; magazines such as Gisele and Glitter; post-gyaru titles like ViVi and Sweet, and of course, big gossip magazines (Gossips being the most popular) who are keen on keeping their readers up-to-date on who is wearing what. The stars of Gossip Girl make many front pages. We also have Vogue Girl, Elle Girl and the complex reasoning behind Nylon magazine and why it fits neatly into the fashionista narrative among young female Japanese consumers.