Explain why Sears or Wal-Mart cannot effectively create a trendy counterculture image
The reasons for stores like Urban Outfitters to be able to create such a culture are their ability to operate with low and medium volume. Hence it is possible to change the output based on changes in demand. For example, the 'Urban Outfitters' followed the policy of locating stores that have the concentration of targeted customers, and this also effectively made use of the existing structures to provide customer targeted fashion and label apparel and home furnishings. These could be promoted by the use of strategies like visual merchandising, displays, and customer related merchandise which naturally had higher prices and low volume. (Funding Universe, n. d.)
The advantage was that the company markets to a known demand at a set price. In the case of Wal-Mart or Sears, the problem is compound because the customers of the companies are set in a broader range and hence these companies are forced to manufacture on a high volume, and keep its profit margins very low. Bulk production is not a method to create fashion or a counterculture. Secondly, the Urban Outfitters serve an exclusive region and specific customers whose fashion choice and trends can be noticed and gauged. Thus within the smaller geographic area the company that can change with the changing trends faster can beat the companies that mass produce and are unable to change at short notice.
2. Could the big box stores sell merchandise identical to Urban Outfitters? Explain your answer
The possibility of the big companies selling products identical to the Urban Outfitters is not impossibility. The question is will the sale actually take place bringing in the same revenue as it does for the Urban Outfitters. This is because when the big companies are considered, the customer's experience does not include exclusivity and a possible experience that is unique in shopping. This not only involves the shopping experience but the shoppers also come with feelings that Pooler (2003) calls consumption mind maps. This includes the shopping environment in which they shop and their likings. In the case of Sears and Wal-Mart, this is uniform and similar all over the outlets. (Pooler, 2003)
There is no differentiated shopping experience hence no different maps for the consumer in the shopping experience. To those who often shop in the monotony of the big malls, smaller but quick adapting places like Urban Outfitters offer the difference where the consumer feels an environment that is focused in him or her. "The shopping map of the mind" is based on years of layers, and in that the big companies have already been slotted. (Pooler, 2003) Though the map for 'Urban Outfitters' too will exist, because according to Heine, none of their stores look alike. They renovate the old buildings and adapt for example, the Ann Arbor store is in an old theater and unconventional place and have renovated it to make it trendy. (Funding Universe, n. d.)
Thus it is not possible for the big Sears and Wal-Mart to market and sell the same way, though the production and distribution can be achieved. In this case there is a difference in location, and the product, while the advertising of the companies focus on different things, promotion is based on the exclusivity of the location that appeals to youth. While the pricing for Wal-Mart and Sears is competitive, the customers who are targeted by the Urban Outfitters do not mind paying more for a little more ambience, trendy products and a feeling of satisfaction that the big companies cannot hope to emulate because they are already in the mass market slots in the customer mind maps. Hence it would be an uphill task for the other companies to reinvent themselves.
3. Identify at least three reasons why exclusivity is valuable
The primary reason is that individuals want to be noticed and appreciated for what they achieve or possess. And one of the important aspect of 'possessing' is 'owning' something that others do not have or at least there are very few who can have a similar thing. That is the drive behind people trying to achieve many things that are grueling and tedious, like feats in sports for example. Thus a customer would pay more to own something that can be his or her exclusive possession and therefore boosts ego. This is the individual's need and thus the drive to dress differently and own a different car. The second reason is the individual's need to fit in the society to which the individual ascribes. The reason why a customer would pay more for exclusivity would also therefore be to gain the approval of the peers and also to bring about a better social standing by consuming things that are considered meant for the peer class. (Morrison, 2006)
Lastly the social concerns may also be a factor in opting for exclusive products while cheaper version of the same is available. People tend to devalue things that in their eyes are not 'costly' and right. Thus those with environmental concerns, health concerns, would buy costly organic vegetables rather than ordinary ones out of the concern and also to do something different. The value of a thing also is enhanced by its cost and rarity. Thus a Rolls Royce is prized because of its exorbitant cost, and therefore it advertises the exclusivity by its cost. Like wise diamonds are paid at a great value even though it does not have any physical use for the owner, merely because the possession of the high priced diamond enhances the social status. Thus there is high price paid for products that tend to show the users as belonging to different social environs. (Morrison, 2006) That is why exclusivity is important in a marketing set.
4. Senk says that shopping is largely entertainment. Do you agree or disagree with him? Explain your answer
The shopping experience is addictive and it is so because it is entertaining. Because shopping is a type of hunting and discovering -- people feel happy and their conquests in terms of purchases help them create a feeling of having had a positive experience, and that is why the teenagers hang around in shopping malls. The elders are no exceptions and while new products create curiosity and a pleasure in knowing of the product in youngsters, it is asserted that older people, contrary to what has been believed accept the innovations and new products as much as the youngsters. (Moschis, 1994)
To analyze Senk, then it will have to be seen what exactly is the shopping experience and if it is entertainment. It has to be agreed that "shopping is not merely the acquisition of things: it is the buying of identity." (Shields, 1992) This is universally true. The decisions to shop is determined by various aspects of human thinking and involve the individuals perception of self -- which is a complicated issue, considering that individuals can define their identities in different ways, there being a role in the shopping image brought about by the culture. For example, in an uptown in the U.S. A female shopper will identify her 'self' as a free person and will shop also with that image. On the other hand even if the environment is the same, a woman in Afghanistan cannot do so because of social restrictions. For one, shopping may thus be an experience to savor and for the other a hassle. Thus the 'mundane activities of everyday life' like shopping is done with a feeling and a purpose that is not merely fetching goods and necessities. (Shields, 1992)
Seen from another view point shopping also is a method of gaining information both about products and other humans who may visit the mall.…