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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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Hennes & Mauritz AB is a Swedish high street fashion company selling clothing, shoes and accessories for men, women and children. “Fashion and quality at the best price” is the company's slogan, which reflects the main focus of the company that allows them to remain competitive and successful in their markets. Erling Persson established the first shop in 1947 under the name Hennes. It was based in Vasteras, Sweden. The company started to expand beyond Sweden in 1964, when the first store in Norway was opened. The expansion of the company is continuing up until today. It resulted in the establishment of 6 concept stores together with a separate homeware brand. According to the H&M website as of 28th of February 2018 the H&M Group owns 4 743 stores in 29 countries. This essay will be exploring the brand equity of H&M Group mainly focusing on one of its concept stores Cheap Monday.

Evaluating the brand character for high street fashion brand

H&M Group launched 6 new concept stores that included Weekday, COS, Cheap Monday, Monki, &Other Stories and ARKET as a part of their international expansion. Forbes.com ranked H&M retailer at 34th place out of a 100 according to its brand value of $14.6 billion in the world's most valuable brands ranking 2017. H&M understands that the fashion industry is unpredictable with low certainty and high instability. It, therefore, uses the agile strategy. The strategy involves mass production of clothes diverse in shape and colour. The aim is to satisfy the customer's interest, taste and remain a stiff competitor in the market (Burmann and Riley, 2009, p.13). Thanks to Keller's Brand Pyramid model H&M often leaves a right image in people's mind. The focus shapes how customers feel and think about the brands. The products are designed to build positive opinions, beliefs, and perceptions for the brand. Strong brand equity helps to build a loyal customer base and makes them do more purchases. Additionally, loyal customers are more likely to share their opinions about the brand, which helps to attract new customers.

Brand equity is a measure of the value and strength of a brand (Baines, Fill and Rosengren, 2017, p. 518). It should be carefully considered in order to build a strong, unique and successful company. Brand equity also shows to what extent the brand is recognized and well-know and how it can generate revenue based upon those two factors. Recognition consists of two components namely brand image and brand awareness. Keller's model helps us to understand the steps required to build a strong brand equity. Cheap Monday is one of the brands in the H&M Group. Since its establishment in 2004, skinny jeans have been its trademark. Today, it offers a full range fashion collection, denim, and accessories for men and women. Cheap Monday advertises its products through social media platforms, such as  YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. According to the H&M Group website apart from selling its items on their own official website and owning 3 stand-alone stores, the brand is mainly sold via 3 000 different retailers, such as ASOS.com or Urban Outfitters. Visual advertising is most emphasized techniques by the company because it improves trust between the business and the audience. According to Pahl and Mohring (2008, p.25), visual advertising stimulates two-thirds of the brain. Therefore visual images are closer to human thoughts because they attract curiosity, attention and develop a personality for the product. Visual images influence the overall evaluation of the brand; it associates the product with specific lifestyles and symbols that establish the identity of the brand in the target audience. Cheap Monday uses visual imagery to illustrate the benefits and features of products. Imagery creates and develops a personality with the products (Ghodeswar, 2008, p.34). The product is paired with something that elicits a positive reaction from the consumer. The customer interprets the positive qualities of the visual to the advertised products. The second visual method the company uses is eye tracking. Eye-tracking involves the use of large pictures and vivid colour. Great number of colours is better in attracting the attention of customers. This is demonstrated in their SS18 Campaign, which is followed by the slogan “Be Bold. Be Loud.”

Source: http://www.nordicstylemag.com/2017/11/cheap-monday-ss18/

Manner and content characterize the images in the advertisement. The image is salient, and customers can process it analytically. They, can understand how it is depicted and what is depicted. The image advertises trousers, t-shirts and vests as well as clearly shows the brand name, so it will be easy for the customer to associate an item with the retailer company. Visualizes appeal to a type of customers who have high vivid daydreams and imagery who like charts, illustrations, and diagrams and are more subjective to learning. In contrast, verbalizes like listening and reading have low imagery and are more objective about learning. Hence, H&M Group and Cheap Monday specifically use visual advertising as it appeals more to customers than verbal advertising.

Cheap Monday is renowned for a characteristic high-end attitude and a skull logo. It produces dungarees, signature dresses, and premium denim at affordable prices. According to Keller's model products equity can be established through salience, through performance and imagery, brain response to feelings and judgments and brand relationships. Cheap Monday has increased awareness of its products through advertising. The high quality skinny trousers differentiate Cheap Monday to its competitors. Analysing the brand using  Keller's brand model it is possible to see that the trousers were a top mind brand by Cheap Monday for high fashion fabric trousers. An association between wealth and the elite social status of the trousers embodies the customers' ego and social needs. Customers' ability to recognize and recall the brand can be attributed to Cheap Monday brand elements such as the skull logo and designs. In performance Cheap Monday uses durable materials in its trousers such as alligator. Most people would consider purchasing a trouser from Cheap Monday because they judge the brand is superior to others. The brand has had some positive associations and celebrity endorsers. Others endorse the brand because it is not overpriced and the quality comes at a reasonable price. Customers express feelings of self-respect, excitement and social approval when wearing Cheap Monday. If customers feel good about a product, they tend to identify personally with the product and tell others about it. Cheap Monday strong sense of community has made it able to achieve resonance and be part of the social elite.

Source: http://www.nordicstylemag.com/2017/11/cheap-monday-ss18/

The above image is an example of Cheap Monday advertisement for the whole range of the Spring-Summer 18 collection. Advertisements seek to persuade, induce awareness and reminds the target market the existence of the brand in the market. Corporate advertising like the on the image above enhances the reputation and builds goodwill for the organization as it promotes positives vibes of the people wearing clothes rather that aims at sales promotion. It is the brand's image and service that attract customers to buy products from the company. The quality of the products and services are tied to brands identity. The use imagery, personalities the brand portrays, and the feeling it invokes try to elicit and build a relationship with the customer. The brand value is based on perception and image. The company has an easy time in controlling the customer as they control the destiny of their products. It is because the brand is all about emotion and facts. Emotionally the world has become more connected, digital, and visual. Positive and strong feelings are the key elements to brand equity (Islam, and Deegan, 2010, p.138).

Cheap Monday is a diverse and trendy brand. This is reflected not only in clothing but also in their physical stores. Their stores always look trendy and hip, which helps to attract their target customers, who are males and females from the ages of 17 to 25, mostly students or young professionals. Cheap Monday brand excels in delivering the true desires of the customer. Their pricing strategy quality for less money, which perfectly fits their targeted customers. It bases the value of its products on consumer perceptions. The skinny jeans brands are well positioned to occupy particular niches in consumer's life. They are different in competing brands, but others are similar. In case of similarity, the company creates points of parity to achieve advantages in the market. Strong brands like Cheap Monday are consistent with change and continuity. Maintaining the brand strikes a balance between kind of change needed and continuity of activities to stay relevant in the market. It is important to segment the brand portfolio and hierarchy as companies have different brands. Hierarchy contributes to brand equity through the ability of the company to make customers aware of the products. Overlapping of brands should be discouraged, it is dangerous. The company's managers understand what the brands mean to their customers. H&M Group gives proper support to the brand and sustains it in the long run. The reason is to make customers have the full breadth and depth of the favourable and unique associations of the brand. The company also monitors sources of brand equity to ensure that they deliver value to the company in terms of profitability and enhance firm position. The recognition of Cheap Monday as part of the H&M Groups adds on to the strength of the brand equity allowing it to thrive and grow in the international market making it possible for the brand to compete with other large and well-known high street fashion companies, such as Topshop.

Brand equity refers to the exercises that access the efficiency of a given brand. It explores how the product is to be marketed through a thorough investigation. To uncover the true meaning of the brand the company taps into customer's beliefs and perceptions. Tracking records and studies about a brand should be employed through quantitative measures in given dimensions. Apart from advertisements, personal selling of the brand is a major method of promoting and selling. It can be done through the phone, emails or chats. It aims to create a relationship between the brand and clients. Direct marketing of the brand develops the brand's equity (Gretzel, 2000, p.148). The channel targets influential clients through emails, telemarketing, and text messages. The brand model deals with enhancing product awareness, together with sales promotion they aim to increase sales. It could be on the ‘buy one get one free' strategy, contests or seasonal discounts. When launching a brand in translated or international markets, the company should consider local sensitivities and affiliations. The brand should be monitored for any cultural sensitivity. The promotional mix will vary with the target composition. If the market is traditional and not technologically advanced, then internet generation can be used for instant gratification.

Conclusion

The top question is where the power of the brand resides. Marketers should have a thorough picture of the strength and weakness of the brand for successful brand marketing. Understanding the brand equity is difficult because an integrated model that quantifies captures the dimensions and outcomes of equity have not yet been created. The brand equity can be evaluated only through two possible solutions; these are holistic and comparative methods. Each has some inconveniences and specific applications. Comparative methods provide a clear understanding of how brands affect the consumer choice and behaviour. On the contrary, holistic approaches quantify and capture the key factors related to brand equity. Plans must determine conceptual and perceptual fluency of different quantitative aspects of brand equity and combine qualitative techniques with structured techniques to capture the impacts of the all the brand equity dimensions. The main reasons for brand equity are the unstable markets, intense competitions, and rapid technological changes. The emergence of new or acquisitions of companies has caused financial elapse in past years. Managers in turbulent markets, therefore, abandon commercial and marketing shares and venture to long-term construction brands.

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