French Connection to re-engage young shoppers

Fashion retailer French Connection is seeking to re-engage with younger consumers and encourage customers to shop more frequently, after market research by Nunwood found most visit a store only twice in a six-month season.

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The retailer began a repositioning exercise two years ago to move away from negative perceptions associated with its FCUK brand and this is the first time French Connection has conducted market research into its customer base.

Marketing and PR director Will Woodhams told Marketing Week that the brand is seeking to re-engage with young consumers who had come to see the range as unfashionable.

“They were coming to us for a statement piece but that was it. They were doing their other shopping elsewhere. Superdry today is constantly being compared with French Connection in the sense of this boom and bust. You have got one thing and you are flogging it,” he says.

The moves accompany the retailer’s strategy of adopting more premium product lines and pricing, which has seen value sales increase in the UK and driven growth in emerging markets, according to Woodhams. He says that middle-class consumers in China are seeing French Connection as a more affordable alternative as they spend less on luxury goods.

The brand has no plans to follow other UK high street retailers in offering heavy discounts or mid-season sales, focusing on products around the £100 price point rather than mass market or “fast fashion” offerings, adds Woodhams, previously at luxury goods group LVMH.

He says: “As far as I can see, we are running fewer discounts through the season than Harrods.”

Read a Q&A with Marketing and PR director Will Woodhams from this week’s Marketing Week issue here

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