The main aim of carrying out this market plan research is to undertake a relative analysis of the past, present, and future of Lane Bryant company market. More significantly, this research deliberates more on the company’s mission, goals, and situation analysis as a way of understanding the position of Lane Bryant company in the industry in terms of its competitiveness among other companies to serve customers. More so, the work involves market focus on marketing of the organization products through implementation of plans using various marketing strategies (Workman, 1991). These strategies include the company’s external competitors, through evaluation of its strengths and weaknesses and differentiation strategy in relation to the closest competitor. Considerably, it is essential to focus on Lane Bryant company macro-environmental issues by analyzing the company legal, technological, social, and economic trends that affect the business. Therefore, focal point of this market plan is on the services Lane Bryant has to provide, considering the highly competitive market for quality, fashion forward clothing based on competitive prices as it ensures that it maintains an ever-growing customer base.
Company’s Mission and Vision Statement
As a company that deals with retail clothing stores, Lane Bryant’s has a continuing mission statement focused on serving the lifestyle apparel needs of women. The company focuses on achieving a wide variety of clothing designs for women wearing plus sizes by offering the very best service, fashion selection, value and fit. As a result, the company’s vision centers on being a company that is focusing on women wearing plus sizes fashion image by celebrating the lives (Charming Shoppes, Inc., 2010)
In the year 1904, Lena Bryant founded Lane Bryant Company by opening a retail store dealing with clothing of different designs. Over the years, Lane Bryant has grown with its current corporate office, in which most of its operations are located, at Bensalem, Pennsylvania. In addition, the company’s retail stores have widely spread across the United States even as it began with a dress shop at small storefront dealing with maternity dress as Lena’s best-selling garment (Charming Shoppes, Inc., 2010). As the shops expanded over with branches selling plus size clothes, the Limited Inc. in 1982 purchased Lane Bryant. Most recently, Lane Bryant has a widely spread market with more than 900 stores in the United States that are currently under the ownership of Charming Shoppes, Inc.
Company’s Branding, Pricing, and Distribution Plan
Unlike other companies in the fashion industry, Lane Bryant seeks to serve the skeptical plus-size clothing. This is because, over the years, Lane Bryant retail chain stores have remained the only national chain that exclusively offers women’s plus-size clothing throughout its outlet sales channel. More importantly, as a way of offering quality services for their highly esteemed customers, its management focuses on its branding, pricing, and distribution plan focusing on the influences of its chains of products, placement, price and promotion strategies. The company’s financial report indicates that eighty percent of total net sales made are accounted from the sale of plus-size apparel. As a result, Lane Bryant indicates that it focuses on serving its customers more efficiently through continuous focus on its fashion content, multiple channels, and broad merchandise assortments (Charming Shoppes, Inc., 2010). The company seeks to appeal to its loyal customers who shop at their outlets, even as they come from a broad range of demographic, socioeconomic, and cultural groups.
Lane Bryant sets focus on the target audience demographics who deal with plus-size clothing for an average woman, who put on at least size fourteen and above (White, 2001). More so, the company clothing designs tend to give comfortable clothing for plus-size women by making them look classic, trendy, and active. As a company that focuses on achieving customer satisfaction, Lane Bryant seeks to centralize on achieving maximum consumers’ satisfaction in their relationship, considering the highly competitive market. Lane Bryant products design ensures that customers shop for style and not just for size as it ensures customers gain satisfaction. According to the esteemed customers of Lane Bryant, the various clothing designs have the latest silhouettes, fabrics and accessories, depending on an individual’s premier choice.
Lane Bryant’s branding strategy is exclusive and distinct from that of other clothing stores, as it provides products whose brand name in the United States market is recognized easily as “Lane Bryant clothing”. As a distinct company, which seeks to give maximum customer satisfaction, its stores also stock other third party, brands from other retail distributors such as Goddess, Spanx, Seven7 Jeans and Bali. Even though Lane Bryant seeks to maintain its own private labels, it outsources different selected national brands that offer fashionable and sophisticated apparel (Hye-Shin & Byoungho, 2006). Lane Bryant products seek to focus on small sizes and plus-sizes, ranging from size fourteen to twenty eight. As a result, Lane Bryant products vary as it provides intimate apparel that includes accessories, wear-to-work and casual sportswear besides other fashionable quality selected footwear and social occasion apparel.
More so, as Lane Bryant seeks to maintain its brand in the highly competitive market, it maintains a high level of personalized attention through product guarantee given for ninety days from customer purchase for them to return products if they do not like it. There is no limited time, upon which customers who purchase faulty goods can place complains; this is because they are entitled to return the goods for exchange at any time after the purchase is made. As a brand that has grown over the years, Lane Bryant clothing is well renown dealer of varying sizes of clothes that are designed to suit different changing fashion trend, considering the company’s adherence to providing outstanding quality of clothes.
As a company, which seeks to serve a wider base of customers with different disposable income ranges, Lane Bryant’s management has developed a pricing strategy that involves pricing of its diverse products competitively. The clothing prices at Lane Bryant stores vary because the customers generally range, depending on the age, as it serves individuals of over twenty years old and as a result, make shopping enthralling as the prices vary from low-to-moderate price ranges (Lee et al., 2002). As a way of attracting customers and making more sales, the stores’ prices depend on the discounts offered in terms of coupons and in store promotions as well as those customers who use Lane Bryant credit card. In most cases, loyal customers of Lane Bryant prefer using the credit card offered, as a way of settling off their purchase, and are later on enrolled in the rewards program. As a result, the Lane Bryant credit card has become more popular with the customers because they can use the reward checks and exchange them for goods in the store like money.
In the maintenance of a suitable pricing strategy, the prices, offered in the retail chain stores, vary depending on the seasons. Nonetheless, Lane Bryant stores experience a normal seasonal sales pattern most of the time in the retail clothing industry, even though it has most of its peak sales in the latest fashion trends, typically in two seasons, ranging from the spring and December holiday seasons. The amount of disposable income, available in the economy, influences the demand levels in the clothing stores. As a result, the company’s management focuses on generally building increased inventory levels of its varying fashion trends and sizes before these peak sales periods. Lane Bryant stores conduct promotional strategies by offering discounts on slow-moving merchandise, as it seeks to maintain continuously current and fashionable inventory, as it consistently reduces the price throughout the year. Promotions on end-of-season sales have a continuous trend in Lane Bryant stores, as they are carried out with the intention of keeping remaining clothing at the stores at the minimal amount of seasonal merchandise over from one season to another (Charming Shoppes, Inc., 2010).
To maintain high levels of sales in the company, the management focuses on key promotion strategy that centers on personal sales, made in the widely spread retail stores in United States. As a result, customers get promotional information on sales and promotions, especially through the end of season sales of merchandise. In addition, the company has not only undertaken normal audio and print media but it also uses social media, including latest internet searches. Trade promotion is another strategy that has been evident at Lane Bryant, as it is used together with advertisements (Cuneo, 2007). In this strategy, Lane Bryant offers its wholesalers and retailers some discounts, which are passed down to customers to stimulate sales, especially of slowly moving merchandise. Lane Bryant practices in-store display promotional strategy. It has also embraced more desirable display space, including freestanding displays; end of an aisle, and near the checkout counter to entice company purchases.
IMC and customer satisfaction plan
Lane Bryant Company target market comprises of customers who not only provide stability on sales but also partly form a foundation for the company’s client base because its locations of outlets remain relevant. As a result, the advertising team of Lane Bryant Company seeks to create an advertising strategy that will allow for maximum efficiency and effectiveness in its ability to reach out to the consumer markets. Lane Bryant management team seeks to always set up its outlets at the right place to reach its customers, as the company advertising campaign has been able to build demand for its products and services; hence, an increase in consumer attentiveness as well as sales remain essential. More notably, Lane Bryant has its wholesalers and retailers who distribute its products through their retail stores and online through its website (Cuneo, 2007).
As a company, which seeks to come up with a creative advertising strategy, Lane Bryant focuses on being unique, as it uses integrated marketing communication as a means of reaching out to its wide consumer markets. Considering that, Lane Bryant currently has a broad appeal in the market the primary focus of the marketing campaign should focus on seeking a foundation client base set to give the company stability in their sales determination (Shimp, 2010). More so, the advertising team seeks to consider the right time, place and tools that will ensure maximum building of demand for products and services as a way of ensuring consumer attentiveness and increased sales is achievable. As a result, Lane Bryant company management have acquired broad appeal from its current market strategy, as it strives to identify the primary focus of its wider customer base, spread all over United States. Lane Bryant primary market in the clothing industry focuses on consumers who have a strong foundation client base, as they provide stability that gives the company ability to make sales determination in different seasons.
The company management through the sales and marketing department focuses on using the right tools of advertising, depending on sales and retail outlets, as a way of building demand for products and services. Considerably, the use of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC), is a decisive option available to Lane Bryant advertising team because it helps in making intelligent choices that meet customer needs at different outlets (Shimp, 2010). As a result, Lane Bryant marketing managers seek to use internet as a widely available and efficient form of advertising because of the strengths of the media source. Over time, the use of advertising strategies has seen Lane Bryant Company recording increased sales as well as consumer attentiveness, as it offers services that ensure maintenance of high customer satisfaction levels (Tanaka, 2005). In addition, the varied demographics that Lane Bryant Company, as a leading retail-clothing store, serves call for use of advertising strategies that vary depending on age, location, and gender from its significantly large customer base.
Just as any other clothing company, Lane Bryant advertising strategy, tries to identify the consumer market, as the company intends to reach out to its customers, widely spread in United States. Lane Bryant has gained a broad appeal in terms of the consumer base due to the industry, in which it operates as it ventures on both small size and plus size clothing designs for different occasions (Jones & Giddings, 2010). As a result, the company has to identify a specific target market. The company’s target market is comprised of customers who not only provide stability on sales but also form a foundation of the company’s client base. Lane Bryant has maintained a unique way of advertising most of its products and services via the internet. Considerably, the choice of the online advertising strategy has become a suitable free advertising platform, as it enables the company to reach its target customers due to the appealing nature of the internet that comes about with the increased level of creativity (Shimp, 2010). Nonetheless, internet advertising has become the most preferred medium for reaching many potential customers with relatively low expenses involved to both the company and consumer. This is because the internet allows Lane Bryant to use words that are more easily understandable because images and pictures can capture and hold the attention of prospective customers.
The organization advertising team uses suitable visual elements, such as real pictures, so that customers can connect with the product, which is the main intention of this strategy (Cuneo, 2007). Considering measures undertaken to check the efficiency levels of different advertising tools, it has been viewed that online advertising medium was more suitable. The main measurement to be trailed would be the number of sales from online orders. In addition, online purchases are monitored through the increased process of shipping and delivering an order. As a result, the effectiveness of advertising involves tracking the number of returns and reasons for returns (Belch & Belch, 2011). This effectiveness measuring technique would involve survey letters, mailing, post-sales and calling buyers of the products and services in order to establish which of the advertising mediums used was the most effective in enticing clients to start buying products.
More than often, the use of advertising through the internet is a unique and fruitful advertising strategy, as it will help the company reach specific objectives in terms of specific types of customers and market share. The marketing goal of Lane Bryant is to reach as many customers as possible at a minimum cost. This advertising strategy is in line with the aforementioned marketing goal because the company will be able to reach a sizable customer base and at a relatively lower cost (Clow & Baack, 2011). As a result, several advantages, made through online advertising, seem suitable as a shift from the media advertising using multiple forms of communication. More so, the use of mass media is more specialized, as it centers on specific target audiences who can access the advertisement.
Nonetheless, the use of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) seems suitable, as it focuses on data based marketing, rather than general-focus advertising, as it accounts for greater agency in terms of accountability in advertising. In addition, increased internet availability and access to goods and services through online market payment systems have set forth increased sales and cash benefits from advertising costs to the company. Considering the strong online presence of media outlets and blog sites that focus on fashion, a controlled press release strategy would be a critical promotional strategy that would help in spreading the word through intranet about what products are being launched by Lane Bryant (Cuneo, 2007). The initial press release highlights the signing of the international roaming agreement. The press release that follows announces the enhancement of personal online account features in line with the global business traveler.
On the other hand, Lane Bryant advertising team will use another promotional strategy that involves general detail announcement advert about the product on the company’s website as an alternative strategy. This will provide customers with a platform, where they can read about the company’s new products and even sign up for product update alerts when necessary. As a result, the account managers will have the mandate of calling existing customers to have their pre-orders ready for launch. More so, the use of online promotions and advertisements makes messages more consistent and credible to the customers unlike other means of advertising, as it gives more information based on the company’s products (Cuneo, 2007). As a result, it gives the customer more confidence as they make choices of goods purchase making the search process easier and viable for the company to dictate the outcome of brand comparisons.
In addition, Lane Bryant Company focuses on using integrated communications that focus on reassuring sense of order in case of disappointed customer by answering to the customers queries using online messages and phone call. Lane Bryant use of online advertisement seeks to make the brand of its products strong through consistent images, relevant, useful messages that seek to help nurture long-term relationships with customers (Lee et al., 2002). As a result, the company can create customer databases, where it can enhance efficient communication, based on the positive and negative feedbacks, as a way of maintaining its customers’ levels in the competitive clothing industry.
Public relation is another promotional strategy that Lane Bryant seeks to use in addition to advertising. By using this strategy, the company’s employees will provide information, regarding the products and services, being offered to the media through both online and print media. Similar to advertising, public relation is relatively inexpensive and more credible as compared to advertising. However, this strategy is risky because the persons that provide information to the media are unable to control what information the media will release.
Lane Bryant focus has shifted on using a lot of internet advertisement because it is free, and as a result, the sales team can reach the target consumers and maximize its profits levels. Considerably, internet advertising remains a non-traditional approach that companies gain an ultimate way of reaching a number of consumer markets with relatively little expense involved, as it entails the creation of the company’s website to make it easier for shorter Google search for customer products (Hye-Shin & Byoungho, 2006). As a well-established retail clothing store, Lane Bryant would use pictures and information that will instantly shift customers focus, as they remain connected with the essential consumer market that stays important for the company in maintaining good customer relationship. Without a doubt, Lane Bryant’s choice of online advertising strategy will help the company to attain its specified goals in terms of market share and target consumers.
More than often, it is essential for companies to focus more on customer satisfaction, rather than increasing level of sales and competitiveness of the company in the industry. This is because, the increased level of customer satisfaction in a company’s product allows for maximum increase in brand recognition besides sales levels, as it creates an advanced word of mouth advertisement. Lane Bryant serves its customers more satisfactorily through increased sales levels at the retail stores. In most cases, customers in the stores receive assistance from the sales associates who are honest in their own opinion to give customers suitable clothing designs because they give fitting and fashion advises, especially for plus sizes customers, rather than helping them in just finding their clothing sizes (Jones & Giddings, 2010). In addition, the company source out for different fashion and sizes of clothing as a way of guaranteeing customers that they will get trendy and great quality products that suit their own choice.
According to Lane Bryant, the focus of its customer satisfaction plan is to have complete customer trust as maintenance of excellent customer relationship remains relevant for any company in the clothing industry. More so, the staff focuses on ensuring that the customers’ personal information remains secure, while its advertisement and communication with consumers, as they shop for clothing, remain honest. Also, Lane Bryant ensures that it adheres to high standards of fair competition in the highly competitive fashion industry as a way of guaranteeing their customers’ satisfaction; as a result, the organization’s retail outlet varies its clothing price depending on the individual’s disposable income with most of its varied quality clothing of different sizes at the lowest prices. This is evident in the use of trade promotion that can be applied, depending on Lane Bryant’s discount offers to its wholesalers and retailers that are passed down to the customers so as to stimulate sales.
Additionally, Lane Bryant focuses on its ethical manner, as it stays committed to remain always accountable by being a good organization in the communities, in which it carries out its operations. Considering that, most of Lane Bryant business operations through its chains of retail outlets have seen the company’s management in maintaining high levels of values and standards, as it follows laws of the United States and other countries that it operates in its fashion clothing business. The online presence of the industry through its websites have seen the customers making purchases online at their own convenient location, as the internet remains accessible to most of the customers (Cuneo, 2007). More so, customers also seek to utilize the newly launched Lane Bryant catalog that focuses on maintaining increased loyal and continuously growing customer base through the establishment of suitable business and e-commerce platform.
On the other hand, the wider base of the customers has led Lane Bryant to shift sales and profit mix of the company sales at different locations. More so, Lane Bryant Company’s management has gained higher operating margin brands and channels, as it reaches its customers. Nevertheless, a company seeks to focus its business operations optimally on cash flow generation. As a result, it has remained widely spread over the region because its net sales have been able to maintain considerable appropriate liquidity and financial flexibility. Lane Bryant sales ensure that customers shop for style and not just for size. According to the esteemed customers of Lane Bryant, the various clothing designs have the latest silhouettes, fabrics and accessories, depending on an individual’s premier choice, making it easier for them to shop for clothing (Cuneo, 2007).
Lane Bryant’s sales team can measure customer satisfaction by surveying existing customers through phone calls and mail. More so, the survey should assess the level of customer interest in the product and services, the experience of product awareness, and the eventual product and service purchase experience. In addition, the company’s specific customer service will allow for employees and customers to have a friendly environment that gives an open space for customers to leave their comments.
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) Analysis
More than often, operations of the company are influenced by both external and internal factors that usually affect the types of products and services provided. This is because internal strengths and weaknesses, besides the opportunities and threats, influence the company’s performance, as it ensures focus on business operations that maximize the profits and market dominance in the industry, considering the competition levels. As a result, identification of internal strengths and external opportunities allows for competitiveness, as the company also focuses on overcoming the weaknesses and threats it faces in the industry to become stable in the industrial market. Lane Bryant’s performance in the fashion clothing industry allows for analysis based on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats based on its market performance.
Lane Bryant has its internal strengths because it has been able to develop a respectful workplace through the employee’s hard work, dedication and integrity, especially as they assist the customers to shop for clothing considering the sizes. More significantly, Lane Bryant retail outlet chain stores have seen customers’ gaining satisfaction because of the employees honest communication, trust, creative thinking and openness, as they seek to provide support in choosing trendy clothing designs for both small sizes and plus sizes customers (Charming Shoppes, Inc., 2010). The company has been able to provide a promising quality clothing line, especially for plus sizes customers who find it difficult to choose fitting clothes. As a result, it has become a common trend for customers to access quality clothes, bought at Lane Bryant stores, that last for a long time and clearly suits the current clothing trends. Lane Bryant also derives internal strengths from its strong management and associate teams who work at different retail chain outlets stores, as they focus on providing trendy fashion at all seasons to its customers.
The company has internal weakness that hinders its smooth operations, as it has shortfalls in meeting each customer satisfaction. As a result, the business operations of Lane Bryant face unfavorable factors, as it intends to change its promotion strategies to one that has less focus on in store sales and other trading promotions, as it shifts to sending more coupons to its customers. In addition, majority of Lane Bryant customers have sent complains based on lack of sales in-store. The current economic status, influenced by the global financial crisis, has seen most customers reducing their disposable income, thus, making it hard for them to shop for clothing at the outlets, as they save on the small funds they possess (Charming Shoppes, Inc., 2010). As a result, the company is making the transition in its clothing sales, as it shifts to online shopping to avoid a high-end specialty store that makes the merchandise prices too high for the customers.
On the other hand, the external environment of the clothing industry as Lane Bryant seeks to focus on the increased opportunities, while minimizing the influences of threats by overcoming them in the industry, is a way of achieving increased market stability and sustainability among the competitors. With Lane Bryant ability to keep high quality stock levels of clothing for all sizes and different brands offers it an incredibly loyal customer base. This is because the company’s market niche focuses on a diverse number of customers (Charming Shoppes, Inc., 2010).
More significantly, Lane Bryant remains a highly recognized company in the clothing retail industry that has no direct competitors, thus, remaining favorable for customers who find satisfaction in the services provided at the stores. Above all, Lane Bryant gets a higher opportunity among its competitors, as it has increased focus on the other plus size offerings that include specialized and highly esteemed attention by employees at the departmental stores who are exceptional through their offering of personal help to customers (Charming Shoppes, Inc., 2010). As a result, the Lane Bryant Company finds an opportunity to gain a unique word of mouth advertising opportunity, especially when the customers get attention and gain a high level of satisfaction, as they shop at the stores, and in the end they introduce other customers, as they remain loyal to the retail stores. Even though Lane Bryant gives an impression of a well-established fashion store, especially for the latest clothing trends, it faces external threats from its customers. The main external threat that Lane Bryant face is the current economic issues that affects the disposable income customers have for purchases of new cloth lines. As a result, Lane Bryant’s company management finds it difficult to remain loyal to the customers considering that prices of the merchandise will increase because of the higher manufacturing costs on most of the products it stocks at its outlets.
Differentiation Strategy in Relation to the Closest Competitor
As a company that specializes in stocking high end designer clothing, especially for women, Lane Bryant faces competition from chain stores like Torrid, CJ Banks, Catherines, Dress Barn, and Fashion Bug. However, Lane Bryant has developed a unique differentiation strategy that will allow the company to maintain a high level of competition to ensure its sustainability and survival level. More so, Lane Bryant has shown its ability to keep high quality stock levels of clothing for all sizes and different brands offer it an incredibly loyal customer base. More considerably, Lane Bryant sets focus on the target audience demographics (Charming Shoppes, Inc., 2010).
The company clothing designs tend to give comfortable clothing for plus-size women by making them look classic, trendy, active. As a company that focuses on achieving customer satisfaction, Lane Bryant positions itself to centralize on achieving maximum consumers’ satisfaction in their relationships, considering the highly competitive market as compared to its competitors (Workman, 1991). The organization’s products design ensures that customers shop for style and not just for size. As a result, the esteemed customers of Lane Bryant get various clothing designs, as it has the latest silhouettes, fabrics and accessories.
Company’s Position as a Leader in the Industry
As a company, focused on achieving a strategic position in the industry, Lane Bryant targets on being a leader in the industry amongst its competitors, especially in the services it provides to its customers. More significantly, Lane Bryant remains a leader in the industry because the company’s retail outlet focuses on providing a comfortable clothing line for plus-size women. Lane Bryant customers gain satisfaction because of the employees’ honest communication, trust, creative thinking and openness that is not found in other companies. Indeed, majority of the customers find Lane Bryant as a high-end specialty store that deals with different products that are considered high end, as it stocks clothes from other designs including Seven7 Premium Denim and Spanx. In addition, Lane Bryant deals with highly fashionable and well-made clothing designs. This is because Lane Bryant offers high quality of clothing designs that are usually on-trend for the season, considering the fashion runway and changing trends (Workman, 1991).
Macro-Environmental Issues Based on Legal, Technological, Social, and Economic Trends
Just as other companies that operate in the clothing fashion industry, Lane Bryant operates in an environment surrounded by dynamically changing legal, technological, social, and economic trends. More so, Lane Bryant has seen increased loyal customer base as it remains a strong brand name. Even with only two local competitors who challenge Lane Bryant competitiveness in the industry, it is a leading company based on its maintenance of high-end specialty store. More significantly, economically Lane Bryant remains one of the fashion companies with high profits per shares as compared to its competitors. It has a positive community impact, as it keeps children warm through its charity activities within United States. Nonetheless, there is a need to improve Lane Bryant technology levels, as it needs to update computers at the stores, even though the company’s website is continuously updated based on technological advancements.
Company’s Significant Trend
More considerably, Lane Bryant remains as a well-established business venture based on its choice of venturing into the plus size industry, thus, causing an increased impact on business, as it intends to capitalize on this trend. As a result, Lane Bryant has had increased focus on a specific class of plus size customers through the customer satisfaction plan to have complete customer trust as maintenance of excellent customer relationship remains relevant for any company in the clothing industry.
More so, the staff at Lane Bryant remains unique as compared to other retail outlets, as it focuses on achieving customers’ satisfaction by advising and communicating with them. In addition, Lane Bryant ensures that it adheres to high standards of fair competition in the highly competitive fashion industry as a way of guaranteeing their customers satisfaction (White, 2001). Lane Bryant also keeps varied price ranges for its different company’s retail outlet to suit individual disposable income with most of its varied quality clothing of different sizes at the lowest prices. More considerably, the company’s market niche focuses on a diverse number of customers because of its transition into a high-end specialty store.