Harrington Collection Sizing Up the Active-Wear Market Marketing Management 1. What is your evaluation of the women’s apparel industry and Harrington’s position? How has the average price of women’s apparel changed? What is your evaluation of their financial performance? The Women’s Apparel Industry The U. S. women’s apparel industry market is mature, given that the average growth rate from 2005 to 2007 was 4. 66%. Within the industry, there are 6 categories of clothing in which companies compete: haute couture, designer, bridge, better, moderate, and budget.
Each category targets customers with different needs and different price ranges, with haute coutre and designer clothing ranging upwards from $10,000 and moderate to budget clothing below $50. In 2007, the primary channel by which retail sales occurred was specialty stores. At 58. 6%, specialty stores dominated the other channels, with department stores having 19% of retail sales, discounters and mass merchandisers having 11. 4% of sales, warehouse clubs/supercenters at 8. 1%, and other channels at 2. 9%.
Ultimately, the total number of retail sales for 2007 was 133 billion, with the majority of units in women’s apparel being sold under the $100 price point, about 75%. Most sales were in specialty stores, and they ranged from budget to better. An economic downturn has influenced the clothing market since the early 2000s, which has led to a change in consumer buying habits. Because of the downturn, customers are very price sensitive and prefer less expensive apparel, as over half of the clothing sold in the apparel industry has been done so “on sale”. To cut their costs, many companies have begun to outsource.
In 2005, imports accounted for 82% of all sales. The issue of cutting costs is important, because the clothing market is highly competitive. With low barriers of entry (and therefore low costs of entry), there are many brands competing for market share and self-space, like Jones Apparel Group and Liz Claiborne. Both of these companies captured significant market shares due to their diverse brand portfolios. A diverse portfolio of brands in different categories works because customers within the women’s apparel industry are highly fickle. Customers regularly change their tastes, and as a result styles change rapidly.
Companies who are capable of keeping up with the trends across several markets are also the most successful. Because of a combination of economic decline and changing life styles, the current “trend” is active-wear. There is tremendous growth in the active-wear segment, which is considered as stylish, comfortable, and most importantly: cheap. Evaluation of Harrington Collection’s Position Harrington Collection is a large manufacturer and retailer of high-end women’s apparel. It differentiates its products through design, marketing, and outstanding service with other companies.
Harrington Collection’s goal is to remain the apparel industry leader. Overall, Harrington Collection products held approximately 1. 83 percent share of the total women’s apparel market in terms of dollars in 2007. Harrington Collection’s target costumers are women who are affluent, fashionable, and college-educated professionals from ages 25 to 60. In order to reach these customers, Harrington Collection has four brands that cater to different market segments and consumer needs: • Harrington Limited is a designer brand of clothing, with prices from $500-$1,000. It focuses mainly on high fashion styles for women. Sopra is a “bridge” brand, and has prices from $400-$800. Sopra’s focus is on evening wear. • Christina Cole, the first of Harrington’s acquisitions in the 1980s, has an emphasis on professional wear. Christina Cole is also considered part of the “bridge” division. The average prices for Christina Cole suits and dresses are $300-$700. • Vigor is the cheapest of all Harrington Collection’s brands. In the better division, Vigor supplies professional career wear between $150-500. Average Price of Women’s Apparel The average price of women’s apparel has been dropping. In 2005, the average price of women’s apparel was $95. 0; in 2006, it dropped to $94. 51, which amounts to a . 51% decrease. In 2007, the price fell to $91. 00, a decrease of 3. 71%. The trend is that customers now prefer less expensive clothes. However, Harrington Collection’s prices are higher than the average, which could deter the average price-sensitive customer. Harrington Collection’s Financial Performance Harrington Collection has not been performing well. The sales and margins for the past three years have been at an all time low. In 2005, sales were only 1,390 million, while in 2006, sales were 1,345 and in 2007, they were 1,344.
Because of low sales,At the same time the gross profit rate has been decreasing. In 2007, the gross profit margin for Harrington Collection’s Manufacturing Group decreased 1. 55%, and in the Retail Group it dropped 0. 95%. This is a total decrease of 1. 37%. This means that the Manufacturing branch is losing the majority of the company’s profits. The Manufacturing Group, dedicated to designing, producing, and marketing upscale women’s apparel, accounted for 50. 3% of company profits in 2007. The Retail Group, focused on retail-based operations for company-owned stores, accounted for 49. % of profits in 2007. When the financial reports of Harrington Collection were analyzed, some important things were uncovered. Firstly, expenses are increasing, and sales and profit are decreasing. In 2007, the COGS of Retail increased 0. 54%, while Manufacturing didn’t change. This means that the price of inventories purchased by the Retail Group is increasing. A further examination revealed that the Selling, General and Administration expenses (SG&A) of the Retail Group are nearly two and half times higher than that of the Manufacturing Group.
Because Harrington Collection thinks that sales people are the most important factor in the consumer decision-making process, they spend significant resources training their personnel and offering them attractive commissions. Their expenses are understandable, and didn’t change for the fiscal year of 2007. What did change were the Manufacturing Group’s expenses. The Manufacturing Group’s SG&A increased 4. 63% in 2007, meaning that the cost of maintaining the current manufacturing set up is increasing. Overall, the profit before tax of the Manufacturing Group decreased 13. 4%, and the Retail Group decreased 10. 77%, for a total decrease of 11. 28%. In simple terms, expenses have increased, profits have decreased, and Harrington Collection hasn’t performed very well over the last several years. Recommendations Interest in active-wear is growing and does not appear to be waning anytime soon. Active-wear is both stylish and comfortable, which are two of the qualities of Vigor’s clothing line. Harrington Collection could seize this opportunity and jump into the active-wear market and launch a new line of active-wear under the Vigor label.
In order to do this successfully, Harrington Collection needs to make some changes to its current production strategies. For example, SG&A expenses for the Retail Group are too high, and Harrington Collection could reduce this by cutting the cost of training and reducing the amount paid by commissions. The Manufacturing Group also has very high SG&A expenses. These expenses could be decreased if Harrington Collection moved some of its factories to lower labor cost countries, in order to reduce the price of rent and labor cost.
Cutting the expenses of the Retail and Manufacturing Groups allows for Harrington Collection to sell their clothes at a lower price, an important thing to consider since the average price of women’s clothing is lower than the average Harrington Collection price. 2. How well does active-wear fit with consumer needs? What purchase criteria are important for buyers of active-wear? What evidence is there to support the hypothesis that active-wear will be attractive to an upscale target demographic? Active-Wear and Consumer Needs
Active-wear’s marketability lies in the fact that it complements consumers’ current needs, or more precisely, the focus of their lifestyle interests. In previous decades of the 1980’s and 1990’s, consumers’ interests (particularly those who made up Harrington Collection’s target customer base of affluent, college educated, professional women) were largely focused on career promotion and fashion. This inevitably resulted in women’s apparel that took on a look that emphasized contemporary fashion in the form of stylish professional wear.
Nowadays, consumer lifestyle and interests have moved towards leisure activities (i. e. , travel, spas, exercise, etc), home designing and technology product purchasing. This shift in consumer interests indicates that they are now more focused on activities that promote personal entertainment, health, comfort and general well-being. Furthermore, with the economic downturn that began in the early 2000’s, consumers are more interested in spending their disposable income on their leisure activities and technology purchases than on clothing.
In light of these factors, active-wear’s appeal becomes apparent. Common clothing items that make up active-wear collections are hoodies, tee-shirts and pants, which are known for their functionality as being comfortable pieces of clothing, hence their traditional use for the gym and other physical activities. Nevertheless, with advancements in active-wear styling and design pioneered by companies such as Liz Claiborne’s Juicy Couture, active-wear has gained the consumer’s perception of having the dual features of being both fashionable and comfortable.
So, as a result of the development of the active-wear product, consumers are now able to purchase apparel that complements their current lifestyle pursuits of entertainment, well-being and comfort. Important Criteria for Buyers of Active-Wear In accordance to the identified needs of the consumer discussed previously, the following purchase criteria are important to the active-wear buyer: • Comfort – consumers want clothes that easily fit into their active and leisure based life-styles, as supported by findings from Harrington Collections’ commissioned survey’s and focus groups research. ‘Vogue’ – design and fit that are in line with athletic styles that are endorsed by the fashion industry’s acknowledged trend setters, such as celebrities. This observation is supported by the proliferation of active-wear product in the “moderate” and “budget” classifications of the market, with seven and a half million active-wear units sold in 2007 and is expected to double in size to about 15 million units by 2009. • Price – as already mentioned, with the economic downturn, consumers have become price-sensitive, particularly with clothing.
This criterion is supported by reports that in 2007, more than half of all apparel purchased were sold on sale or marked down prices. Active-Wear’s Appeal to an Upscale Target Demographic Many clothing brands have added active-wear products to their clothing lines. Based on this observation it has been anticipated that by 2009, 40% of active-wear will be captured by the “better” category, which is one of the product classifications that is targeted at the up-scale target demographic. This is in comparison to the active-wear market of 2007 where 80% was dominated by the “moderate” and “budget” classifications.
These changes indicated that the up-scale clientele of the “better” category are increasingly demanding active-wear products. There are also reports from department stores currently catering to Harrington Collection’s target customers that reveal that inventories for active-wear are selling at two times the rate of Harrington Collection apparel. In light of this, Harrington Collection commissioned market research and unearthed data that verifies the attractiveness of active-wear to Harrington Collection’s target demographic.
It was found that 10% of customers purchasing items in the $100-$200, “better” category were willing to buy active-wear of superior quality and style. The research also found that there were loyal customers of Harrington Collection whose fashion tastes were changing from the tailored, professional look to younger, more contemporary styles. Furthermore, the customer research also found that only 2% of respondents felt that the less expensive active-wear line would cheapen the ‘Vigor’ brand.
Finally, the active-wear style has already proven to be popular with celebrities, known to be ‘trend setters’ in the fashion industry and consists mostly of individuals that belong to the up-scale demographic that Harrington Collection is targeting, thus it would be reasonable to anticipate that other members of the up-scale segment would also be attracted to active-wear. Given that Harrington Collection has a long standing history of successful “life-style branding strategy, the move towards active-wear would be in support of Vigor’s objective of providing apparel that compliments its target customers’ lifestyles. . How well does active-wear fit with Vigor division? (Target customers, promotion strategy and production capabilities. ) What possible impact could this new product line have on the Vigor Brand Name? Vigor’s Target Customers Harrington Collection acquired Vigor in 1984 to appeal to a younger array of customers. As part of the “better” division, Vigor is nationally marketed as a “less” traditional Harrington Collection brand and sells professional wear that is stylish and comfortable, with an emphasis on fit as well as fashion.
Of the 120 company stores that Harrington Collection owns, 50 of them sell only Vigor related products. This is 41% of all stores selling Vigor exclusive products. Like the other Harrington Collection brands, Vigor focuses on stylish, professional women’s clothing. The average target customers of the Vigor division are those educated women who want to be “trend setters. ” They are estimated to be from ages 25 to 50, and are looking for less expensive but high quality clothing that is fashionable, but also comfortable.
Average household income for these women is around $75,000 a year, so they are willing to spend $150-500 on their clothes. It was previously discussed that when Harrington Collection considered adding active-wear as an addition to the Vigor brand, it commissioned a series of focus groups at Vigor’s target customers to gauge their interest. To recapitulate, the results of the focus groups were positive, as 10% of the customers within the $100-200 pricing range were willing to buy an active-wear set if they could find one that was well designed and comfortable. In 2007, $222. million worth of clothing was bought within the $100-200 range. 10% of those buyers are a potential $22 million. Active-wear provides an opportunity for profit. However, for current Vigor and Harrington Collection customers, the idea of active-wear has contrasting effects. While the focus groups revealed that there was a subset of customers who were tired of the professional look and were excited at the prospect of more youthful, comfortable clothing in Vigor, they also revealed that there was a troubling 2% who felt that active-wear would cheapen the Vigor brand.
Now, there is no guarantee that those currently bored with the Vigor brand would buy active-wear. Yet, there is also no indication that those who think active-wear is cheap would lose their brand loyalty. There is a degree of risk in pursuing an active-wear line, but given the financial benefits and the growing active-wear market the risk is worth taking. Vigor’s Promotion Strategy Clothing companies in the “better” and above division have achieved success selling active-wear through large scale advertising campaigns. Active-wear within the better division is sold at a price point of $100 or below.
As Vigor’s active-wear pricing is not deviating from the normal price point of $100 (hoodies = $100, tee-shirts = $40, pants = $80), the only thing to differentiate Vigor’s line from other clothing lines is its advertising. Now, one of Harrington Collection’s strengths is marketing, specifically national advertising campaigns. The company should have no trouble in matching competitors in the advertising arena in terms of quality, quantity and breadth of the marketing campaigns since Harrington Collection has extensive experience in successful advertising of women’s clothing. Vigor’s Production Capabilities
Companies such as Jones Apparel Group and Liz Claiborne have retained control of their design, marketing, and retailing of women’s apparel, but have outsourced the production of their clothes to global regions such as China. Companies who chose to outsource to overseas third parties have significant cost advantages when compared to their counterparts who are producing clothing in the United States. Wages between China and the United States are vastly different, but so are the required overhead costs, as there is less capital spending required in outsourcing than there is in the creation and maintenance of local manufacturing plants.
As a result, companies who outsource their production are capable of having lower prices: an important consideration given that the nature of the average American consumer is highly dependent on the cost of the clothing. Harrington Collection has kept a policy of not outsourcing overseas despite the success of their competitors. There is a fear that should outsourcing occur, the two competitive advantages of the company will be lost. These competitive advantages are quality of the clothing, and the speed at which the clothing reaches the customers and Harrington Collection has thus far been able to etain both by operating and owning facilities within the US, Mexico and Caribbean. A high standard of quality control would be hard to maintain from an outside source several thousand miles away. Likewise, control over the number of units produced would be lost and the risk of mass producing and cheapening the brand increases. Also, with the relative quickness that clothing styles change and fashions go out of date, it is critical for any company to be ready to ship new styles and capitalize on new trends as quickly as possible.
It takes longer to get inventory into the retail channels when it is being manufactured overseas. Cargo ships are slow, but necessary. For its active-wear line, Vigor plans to rent factories in Mexico and not outsource to a third party. By making this move Vigor retains control of manufacturing and cuts its production costs (and increase its profit) and also retains its ability to manage quality and ship to retail channels as fast as possible. Impact Active-wear definitely has the potential to enhance the Vigor brand, since active-wear fills a niche that Vigor has not captured in its target customers.
It could help retain long-term customers who are looking for fresher clothing, but it could also isolate existing customers. However, existing customers have the option of shopping at Sopra, a more expensive brand that sells similar clothing, if they feel that Vigor has been cheapened. Vigor’s quality is not threatened by the addition of active-wear, since Harrington Collection is only renting plants in Mexico and not outsourcing the entirety of the production process to someone else.
Customers will still be buying fashionable, comfortable, and well-made active-wear. Recommendations In creating active-wear for its target demographic, Harrington Collection would need to make sure that it looks youthful and stylish, not matronly. However, the active-wear should not be so young as to appear tacky, i. e. having glittery letters sewn into the rear of its pants. A simple, but sleek look would capture both those women who enjoy the sophistication of the Vigor brand and those who are looking for a change from the ordinary. It may lso help change the opinion of those who think that active-wear cheapens the Vigor name, as they will see Vigor’s tasteful, well-made approach to something that they consider to be low quality. 4. What are the potential retail trade and competitor’s reaction? Are their any conflicts? Potential Retail Trade and Channels Currently, Harrington Collection sells the Vigor brand online via e-commerce stores (not included in current figures) and in person via department and specialty stores. In 2007, specialty and department stores held 58% and 19% of all retail sales in women’s apparel respectively.
There is currently no reason to change the retail channels. Specialty store sales increased by 11% between 2005 and 2007, which bodes well for Vigor since specialty stores dominated all other channels in terms of retail sales. Even though department store sales declined by -. 8% and may continue to decline in the future, there is no reason to discount department stores as a channel. Department stores have proved to be incredibly lucrative. Reports from department stores revealed that the stylish active-wear sold “extremely” quickly. Active-wear inventory had a turnover rate almost twice the rate of current Harrington Collection apparel.
Successful clothing sells quickly and will continue to be stocked by stores within various channels because it generates customers, revenue and interest. Moreover, a high-turn over rate means that there is little risk for a store to become overstocked on a single brand or fashion and be unable to sell it before the style becomes stale. On another financial note, discounts in department stores for stylish, active-wear clothing were not as extreme when compared to other product lines. This is good news for an industry where over half of the customers prefer to buy clothing “on sale. There are also several other merits of department stores that are related to customer buying habits and customer targeting. Women are used to seeing, finding and buying stylish, casual clothing in department stores. Active-wear is an extension of this stylish, casual clothing group, thus women do not have to be trained to look for active-wear. Also, department stores cater to a variety of women and their shopping needs, the least not being Vigor’s target customer. Target customers do not need to be taught to shop at department stores, as they already do.
The women that Vigor intends to attract to its clothing brand are more likely to shop at a department store if they aren’t already in a Vigor specialty store. Channel conflicts Warehouse clubs and supercenters had the highest sales growth during 2005-2007, but it is not Harrington Collection’s interest to capitalize on this expanding channel. Harrington Collection’s mission is to provide preeminent brands that are fashionable and elegant. This is the reason why Harrington Collection’s brands are sold in department stores and specialty stores.
Harrington Collection prides itself on quality, and this is one of its competitive advantages. Warehouse clubs and supercenters provide inexpensive, moderate to poor quality clothing. Conversely, Harrington Collection is known for high quality, expensive clothing. The goals of t channel and Harrington Collection are not compatible. Competitor’s Reactions Harrington Collection has three major competitors: Liz Claiborne, Theory, and BCBG Max Azria. Claiborne is one of the biggest companies in the industry while Theory and BCBG are two major competitors for Harrington Collection’s Vigor active-wear line.
Once Harrington launches its new active-wear product line, it is assumed that its competitors will follow suit and either launch their own lines, or lower their prices. Liz Claiborne might lower its active-wear prices if Harrington launches an active-wear line. Claiborne outsources production of its apparel to third parties overseas. This allows for certain cost advantages when it comes to lowering prices to deal with competitors. However, Harrington Collection is not worried about Liz Claiborne’s potential pricing strategy, as market trends indicate that customers change their tastes very quickly.
While Harrington may not be able to match Liz Claiborne’s lower prices because it produces its clothing in Mexico and not overseas, it can cater to customer needs quicker due to Mexico’s closer location to the target market. While Liz Claiborne cut their prices down to attract customers, Harrington can always offer the newest stylish clothing to satisfy the fast changing tastes. BCBG Max Azria also does not have any active-wear lines. Like Liz Claiborne, they are an American-based company, but they suffer the same disadvantages as Liz Claiborne.
Given the same industry environment, BCBG Max Azria may choose to launch an active-wear line and outsource the manufacturing to third parties. Yet, by the time that BCBG could offer cheaper active-wear products, Harrington Collection would have already captured the market early be catering to customer desires. Theory currently has no active-wear product line. However, it is likely that they may plan to launch an active-wear product once they see Vigor active-wear’s success. Theory is a clothing company in Japan, and given its history in past years, it has produced the majority of its women’s apparel in China.
Should Theory attempt an active-wear line, they will most certainly manufacture in China because of its cost advantages and Theory’s relevant geographic closeness. However, like Liz Claiborne and BCBG Max Azria, Theory may have lower prices, but it will struggle to keep up with changing trends. Harrington Collection will retain a quality and speed advantage. Recommendation Specialty stores, department stores and e-commerce sites should remain the main channels of focus for Vigor’s active-wear line. Vigor’s target customers already know where to shop, and Vigor retains excellent relationships with its current channels.
Those women who don’t shop regularly in department or specialty stores are likely not Vigor’s target customers, since they prefer channels that conflict with Harrington Collection’s interests. 5. What is the financial impact of the proposed Vigor active – wear program for the Manufacturing Group? Harrington collection estimated from its market research that approximately 7. 5 million active-wear units were sold in 2007 and expected this number to double by 2009. While in 2007, 80% of the apparel sold was in the “moderate” to “budget” category, but by 2009 40% of the active-wear was supposed to be sold in the “better” category.
According to the survey findings, 10% of the customers wanted to buy active-wear of high quality in the $100 to $200 price range. The suggested retail price for the Vigor hoodie, tee-shirt and pants was $100, $40 and $80 respectively while the wholesale prices for the retailers from the manufacturing group was estimated to be exactly 50% of the suggested retail prices. Taking into consideration that active-wear will be sold as separate pieces, the ratio of the hoodie, tee-shirt and pants is 1:3:2. An active-wear unit was viewed as half a hoodie, one and a half tee-shirts and one pair of pants.
The total start up costs are approximated to be $12,700,000, inclusive of the start up costs for the hoodie and pants plants as well as the equipment costs for both of these plants. This figure also included costs for the PR and advertising and fixtures for company stores. The depreciation for the plant and equipment is calculated to be $2,540,000. The total fixed operating costs are $11,500,000 and the total variable cost per unit is expected to be $46. 56. The predicted sale in units is 420,000 and in dollars is $39,900,000.
Break even analysis suggests that the break even units will be approximately 289,846 which is $27,535,370 in dollars. Vigor’s profit margin after the active-wear launch is 22. 17% i. e. $8,844,590. Launching this new product under the Vigor brand will help penetrate a new market. Looking at the break even analysis and the forecasted growth in 2009, Harrington Collection can be confident that it can sustain its position in the market as well as make a profit of 22. 17% and combat the decline in gross profit over the past several years. Appendix Demand and Profitability Analysis: Start up Costs | | |Start up Costs Pants plant |1,200,000. 00 | |Start up Costs Hoodie and Tee shirt plant |2,500,000. 00 | |Equipment Pants plants |2,000,000. 00 | |Equipment Hoodie and Tee shirt plants |2,500,000. 0 | |Launch PR/ ADV |2,000,000. 00 | |Fixtures for Company stores |2,500,000. 00 | |Total start up costs |12,700,000. 00 | |Annual Depreciated start up costs |2,540,000. 00 | |Annual Ongoing Operating costs – Fixed | | |Overhead Pants plant |3,000,000. 0 | |Overhead Hoodie and Tee shirt plant |3,500,000. 00 | |Rent Pants Plant |500,000. 00 | |Rent Hoodie and Tee shirt Plant |500,000. 00 | |Management and Support |1,000,000. 0 | |Advertising |3,000,000. 00 | |Total Fixed Operating costs |11,500,000. 00 | |Direct Variable Costs |Hoodie |Tee Shirt |Pants | | |Sew and Press |3. 25 |2. 00 |2. 5 | | |Cut |1. 15 |0. 40 |0. 70 | | |Other Variables |3. 20 |2. 40 |3. 05 | | |Fabric |9. 10 |2. 20 |7. 50 | | |Findings |3. 5 |0. 50 |2. 30 | | |Total |20. 55 |7. 50 |16. 40 | | | | | | | | |Direct costs translated into Unit costs |Hoodie |Tee Shirt |Pants |Total | | |10. 8 |11. 25 |16. 40 |37. 93 | Appendix Cont. |Indirect Variable Costs | | |Wholesale Unit Prices |95. 00 | |Total variable costs as % of whole price |9. 9 | |Indirect Variable Costs per unit |8. 64 | |Direct Variable costs per unit |37. 93 | |Indirect Variable costs per unit |8. 64 | |Total variable costs per unit |46. 6 | |Contribution | | |Wholesale price per unit |95. 00 | |less: total variable costs per unit |46. 56 | |Contribution per unit |48. 4 | |Breakeven | | |Fixed annual costs (operating and depreciated start up) |14,040,000. 00 | |/Contribution per unit | | |Break even units |289,846. 10 | |Profit Margin | | |Revenue |39,900,000. 0 | |less fixed annual costs |11,500,000. 00 | |less total variable costs |19,555,410. 00 | |Profit before tax |8,844,590. 00 | |Profit margin before tax |0. 22 | | |22. 17 |