Marketing Week (MW): How do you see Forever 21 making an impact on the UK fashion retail landscape?
Larry Meyer (LM): We would like to be in the UK what we are in the US – the first choice for customers who are seeking great fashion.
MW: How do you position yourselves against rivals in the British value fashion sector such as Primark and H&M?
Linda Chang (LC): We offer things on a daily basis. We don’t offer things in a huge amount of depth. Our customers know that if they don’t get something now, they might never get it again. We also cover all the different trends and a wide variation of them.
MW: Forever 21 has not traditionally been a marketing-led organisation. How has the brand grown so successfully without it?
LM: In the US, retailers grow by taking up space in malls. We built a brand through choosing the right locations and having customers talk about us to their friends. This viral campaigning has made us what we are.
MW: Since the marketing department was established three years ago, how have budgets and attitudes towards the discipline changed?
LC: There definitely has been more budget since I joined and marketing is becoming much more important. But it’s probably very small compared with other companies our size. We do the best with what we have and we would never limit ourselves. If our customers demanded it, we would provide it.
LM: Marketing is one thing but coming to the stores and seeing the products, store environment, quality of service, ability to buy and the price – all of those variables are what make a person’s decision to shop with us. It’s the 4Ps of marketing (product, price, place and promotion). Our social media strategy and store environment is what gets people in.
MW: The store layout and rollout investment seems to take precedence over developing the ecommerce and even mobile platforms. What is the rationale behind this?
LC: The web isn’t a channel we can disregard but we haven’t been able to capture the same excitement on the web as we have in the store environment. However, technology is taking us closer to being able to mimic our store environment online, so it is something we are definitely investing in.
MW: Much has been made of printing the Bible passage John 3:16 on shopping bags. How much is faith is connected to the brand?
LM: The vision you see in stores is totally that of Mr and Mrs Chang. They believe in faith and it is part of who they are. But the shopping and clothes are independent of that.