Time For a New Strategy: Project REVAMP Retail!

By on June 7, 2010

PETITE FEMALE CONSUMERS REPRESENT 10 BILLION DOLLARS OF RETAIL BUYING POWER IN THE UNITED STATES.

Petite women are 70% of the U.S. Population.  Women 5’9″ or taller are only 3% of the market place and they are the standard in sizing.

Retail is experiencing its worst economic downturn in the last ten years.  A variety of factors have contributed to this precipitous fall, not the least of which is widespread discrimination and alienation of the majority of women in their marketplace.

If retailers and designers want to get into the game of staying in business, they should try simply addressing their consumer market and they will win!

Lane Bryant’s marketing strategy is brilliant and a perfect example of why they are succeeding in these tough economic times.  You don’t see Lane Bryant using thin tall models in their clothing, nor petite full-figured for that matter (this is a problem).  What is apparent is that whether you are tall or petite, you know as a full-figured woman to shop at Lane Bryant.

A double standard, however, remains when it comes to the use of petite models.  The designers exclusively (and deliberately) use tall models when advertising petite clothing.  As a result, most petite women don’t even know which clothing designers and retailers carry petite clothing sizes.  Market confusion and alienation is surely not a winning combination.

It’s time for a new strategy!  One that targets the retailer’s consumer.

Using models which represent the real market is one key business strategy retailers should be implementing.  Another big idea: how about advertising directly to your petite market? Again, Lane Bryant applies this strategy by targeting their advertisements and they know what their consumer wants.

However, Michael Kors, Vera Wang, Ralph Lauren, BCBG Max Azria and Calvin Klein are known as the “big five” of high end designers offering petite sizing, but most petite women don’t know this.  Why?  Because they ignore petite women by not using petite models in their fashion shows or advertising campaigns, nor do they even mention that dirty little word “petite” in their campaigns. If you’re lucky, it’s listed in the storefront window!

Here’s a recent example of blatant disregard exercised by a huge name retailer.  Ann Taylor, recently relaunched their “Loft Line,” a lesser expensive casual line which offers petites, in addition to their parent label. Yet they have no intention of advertising “petites”  in their mainstream campaigns. They recently approached Bella Petite to promote them and they did not want to do a campaign rollout utilizing actual petite models. They wanted us to promote them for “free” and, to add insult, featuring tall models! I wonder if retailers really believe that they are entitle to free advertising?   If they can’t pay to advertise how do they expect to stay in business?

Now I ask you, do you think petite women identify with and know that Ann Taylor Petites or Loft Petites exist?  (Ann Taylor Petites pic shown above) What do you have to say to this retailer?

Better yet how about retail designing clothing that fits petite women, so we don’t have to have to get them altered.  There is a real reason petite women are spending less money in this recession.  It is clear to me that retail needs to revamp their strategy if they want to see profits rise.  In my view there’s nothing complicated about what they need to do and that is scale the clothing properly and advertise to your consumer!

And my message to petite women is to stop continuing to sit back and do nothing, otherwise the status quo will remain the same and that is zero market place identity even with the few designers offering petite lines.  They’ll continue to feature tall models in clothing and not advertise to you either.  And many designers will continue not to scale properly, so clothing fits us. 

This can all be changed by petite women uniting by the millions here on Bellapetite.com to send retail a message it’s time for change!

 

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20 Comments

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  2. AnyaMari

    June 8, 2010 at 7:09 am

    Considering our current economic climate, one would assume that these fashion retailers would want to appeal to a broader market?!? It behooves them financially to do so….survival of the fittest. I would love nothing more to see a beautiful woman of my stature wearing the Petite fashions. Look at Eva, Salma etc….gorgeous and petite. Wake up and don't "p-off the petites"!!! 😉

  3. Kat

    June 8, 2010 at 8:56 am

    I'm a bit confused about the "Loft Line". Ann Taylor LOFT is not a new concept. It's been recently re-branded, if that's what you mean. Also, it's not petite centric, it's just AT's lower priced line. Just like the Ann Taylor line, petites are available in many of the same styles as the regular sizes, but the main focus is on standard-sizes. Is there another Loft I'm not aware of?

    Just as many brands do (which, I wish they wouldn't), both Ann Taylor and LOFT use the same photos of their tall models in a standard-sized garments to promote both their standard, and petite sizes. They are not putting tall models in petite-sized garments, as you suggested in the post.

    That being said, I would love to see petite models being used to model petite clothing. If Ann Taylor and LOFT were to hire a second set of models, petite-sized, to model their actual petite garments, that would make me very excited!

    • bellapetite

      June 8, 2010 at 10:01 pm

      Ann Taylor "Loft" has recently re-branded to include a petite line. That is why they contacted Bella Petite, so we would do a story on this decision to include a petite line. Much to our dismay they are not doing a campaign roll-out to promote the "petite" line within "Loft". They have no intentions of ever using petite models to showcase the Loft petites line either as they advised. They will continue deceptive marketing practices. This is a problem for retailers wanting to reach petites as they do not adequately market.

      • Cynthia

        June 10, 2010 at 5:37 am

        Ann Taylor Loft (aka LOFT) has had a petite line for YEARS. I've seen it (and gone into it) each time I've gone to the US since 2003 or so. After numerous complaints on Facebook and email, they started expanding their petite line to include more items. Maybe that's what you mean?

        • bellapetite

          June 10, 2010 at 2:08 pm

          Hi Cynthia: Yes, I completely understand Ann Taylor has had a "petite" line for "years." You're missing the points.

          A. They don't use petite models in their; fashion shows, advertisements or on their website.
          B. They don't advertise they carry petites in any mainstream markets.
          C. They don't want to spend money to advertise their petite lines.
          D. They don't adequately recognize the petite market place.

          Ann Taylor is another clothing designer taking money from the petite women with zero recognition of the petite model and the petite consumer. Interestingly, if they marketed to petite women they would realize greater profits, as Lane Bryant has by addressing and representing their consumer.

          Recently, Ann Taylor corporate approached BellaPetite.com and they want FREE placement on our mutli-media platform. Again, poor marketing strategy. Our purpose is not to ADVERTISE retailer's within our web community, radio show or digital magazine for free. The idea that retailer's think that is beneficial to a publisher is sadly misguided. BellaPetite is providing a medium for them to market and sell their goods, but not at our expense!

          Ann Taylor along with the other designer's is the "status quo" we must fight to change…

      • bellapetite

        June 11, 2010 at 9:31 pm

        Everyone needs to understand this why you don't see "PETITE models and FASHIONS" advertised in the market place. The retailers don't feel they need to because petite women have settled for the status quo…

        The next problem is scaling for majority of the clothing lines. They don't do it because petite women are conditioned to ALTERATIONS. This why most clothing lines don't offer petite sizing. If you're ok with the status quo and you like paying extra cost to alter your clothes than you're ok with the lack of petite representation.

        If you are not okay with the status quo then you have to demand a change like the "full figured" women have!

  4. LanaLu

    June 8, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    As a petite woman I am tired of tailoring everything I buy. Since the economy has taken a nose dive I am no longer willing to by clothing that doesn't fit me. If the designer doesn't want to properly scale their stuff than I don't need to buy it! I urge my petite compadres to do the same. Why should majority of the female market suffer for that 3% of women that model the clothing let them support their bottom line.

  5. ShaneLewis

    June 9, 2010 at 8:05 am

    What a great article and viewpoint on the hypocrisy of retailers and how the advertise. If they don't want to show us petites in their line or create a line that fit us why are we continuing to spend our hard earned money on their goods. We can boycott them like they've boycotted us petites!

    • Tana

      June 11, 2010 at 3:04 am

      Exactly! Because the fashion industry (as well as consumers) have been "conditioned" to view their product in the wrong arena or parameter (for lack of a better description)…meaning, we've seen, for years and years now, designer (and non-designer) clothing donned and glorified on "tall, slender…almost, "lacking" female bodies. Many woman have grown immune to the fact that this doesn't properly relay…um, "WRONG" to the "majority" of women, who are "petites."

      We continue to be sheeps and purchase their clothing…because why? Because THEY make us believe that we will be these "glorified" (noticed that I didn't say "beautiful" or "gorgeous") creatures wearing their "shells of deception!" (how's that for over-dramatizing?!).

      But seriously, with all joking aside, it's clearly a slap in our (petite) faces! Why AREN'T we good enough to demonstrate or advertise their clothing to like kind, and like minded…what actually fits US? How loud do their daily, silent "announcements" have to get before we say, "ENOUGH!" How many more talented, petite women, who desire to do runway or high fashion, have to be kicked to the curb (and not given ANY opportunity to show their talent, their beauty (whether inner or outer) or desires…which could lead them to the next calling of their lives)?

      I think a boycott of a few million even, would get their attention. It's true that times are tough, for everyone; one would THINK designers and any other retailers would want to appeal to the masses, (um…DUH! Isn't it called "MARKETING?!" I just don't get it!!).

      Not everyone can afford to make adjustments to the clothes they wear. Nordstrom's offers a solution to this inconvenient problem that a lot of petite women care about — but then again, if you're shopping at "Nordstrom's," you probably don't have to worry about the cost of tailoring…but that's just my assumption.

      I don't know enough about ANN TAYLOR, specifically, but I do know that I've NEVER seen a SPECIFIC advertisement for "petites." That's insulting. So, I take it as them saying, "We'll just make a petite line just in case "some" come in…but their not worth a penny of advertising." Okay, yeah…right, as if that makes any sense (also, why isn't someone at the doors each day, eying the clientèle and discerning who their market really is? Again, I would think that's good marketing skill and practice, especially knowing you have different departments…"petites," "tall's" "plus," or what have you). Do these "people" NOT do their homework?

      To me, again, it's almost like they imply "petite" women are stupid…don't know their butt from a hole in their head…uneducated, or not self-reliant to "look into IT more." Am I making any sense? Sorry if I'm not…but I am passionate about this, even not being a petite "petite" (I'm right at 5'5, so I know I don't have the issues like Ann Lauren may have given she's 5'2), but I have a daughter and friends who have had to deal with "finding the right fit," and I know how annoyed they get, especially as their $200 jeans drag on the ground, ripping and tearing…getting wet…so annoying.

      3% ladies…3%!! Think about it! I get sincerely aggravated when I do.

  6. Sunshine

    June 9, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    I for one am tired of finding great jeans only to realize I will be stepping all over the bottoms of them and the same goes for my 4 older daughters. I am really AMAZED about Ann Taylor. That is completely arrogant and insensitive and for sure that wont be a line I will be buying from any time soon unless they change thier marketing. However the idea of boycotting probably wont fly as most are not educated about the marketing that is used: ie: tall models for petite lines. It will take Bella Petite and its supporters to usher in the change. Thanks for fantab article…again:)

  7. Millisent Reda

    June 11, 2010 at 8:53 am

    I don't know enough about ANN TAYLOR, specifically, but I do know that I've NEVER seen a SPECIFIC advertisement for "petites." That's insulting. So, I take it as them saying, "We'll just make a petite line just in case "some" come in…but their not worth a penny of advertising." Okay, yeah…right, as if that makes any sense (also, why isn't someone at the doors each day, eying the clientèle and discerning who their market really is? Again, I would think that's good marketing skill and practice, especially knowing you have different departments…"petites," "tall's" "plus," or what have you). Do these "people" NOT do their homework?
    +1

  8. Fariha

    June 11, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Now that I reread the article, I do see your point! You would think that the markets would appeal to the majority, which usually is the case for everything else-electronics, shoes, gadgets, accessories, etc…but not for clothing? It does seem a bit off. It seems to me that they are trying to sway the majority into believing that amazons are ideal to follow? Hmmm…I think the fashion industry needs to redo some of their homework. With all these top brands, and no ideal target market, it throws everything off!

    I have even seen "fake" wholesalers, who carry mock up brands such as Dior, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, etc, make clothing, but surprisingly enough, it fits petites! Could this be because they are trying to appeal to a "mass market"? I would think so. Why don't the real brand names see this?

    • bellapetite

      June 11, 2010 at 3:35 pm

      Hi Fariha: This is where it all begins. Retailers don’t address the petite market place. The retailer’s that do have petite lines, don’t advertise to the market and don’t use petite models when they advertise. Ann Taylor, BCBG, Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Vera Wang have petite clothing, but won’t use petite models and don’t market it in their mainstream campaigns that they have the petite lines, you basically have to stumble upon them to find out. When designer’s do say they have petites they put a TALL model in their fashion shows and ad campaigns, so we don’t make the connection it’s a line that even fits us.

      You have the mass market being petite, but petites have “ZERO” market place identity. The retailer’s are marketing to 3% of women! (That’s their personal preference)…go figure!

      If PETITE WOMEN don’t challenge the status quo it will remain.

      • Monica Whattam

        August 22, 2010 at 4:21 pm

        I agree that petite women being ignored when they’re the ‘mass market’ is ridiculous.

        I read an interesting article over at Fashion-Incubator.com called “Why existing manufacturers don’t add plus sizes”, that covers the financial value and risk of adding another size type, to clothing brands relative to their industry position (i.e. established or start-up). It would seem that it is less risky for new brands to start out offering an exclusive line, than for established brands to add another line. Since petites are a larger market share than plus-sizes, one would think that the risks would be less great; however, generating consumer awareness, and sales, through cost-effective methods may be the sticking point.

        In my opinion petites should look for new graduates who are searching for creative opportunities and a salary, and let them know there are bundles of both waiting if they’ll only design interesting, patterned, colorful, fashion-forward textiles and garments for the petite market. These are the designs that are so often excluded from petite sizing by larger brands, since it is easier and cheaper to scale down plain, simple garments with non-patterned fabrics.

        A lot of petite exclusive lines seem to go for plainer garments, and I believe that hurts them since they’re not doing anything different to the larger brands, thus losing any ‘pulling power’ they might have. If a petite woman can buy those simple style in the same store that offers more complex style, (albeit, not in a perfect fit), she saves time, and maybe money. On the other hand, when awareness of more ‘complex’ lines is greater, these brands will benefit since interest in petite exclusive clothing brands, and knowledge of what constitutes good fit, will bloom.

        I also think petite women should write letters or emails to brands and stockists when they don’t carry petite lines, and/or don’t use petite models for petite lines, to explain that they won’t support that brand or retailer until petites are adequately represented. Alternatively, petites could buy petite sizes exclusively, including where petite models are not used, and hope that the increase in petite sales will encourage the use of petite height models.

        • Monica Whattam

          August 22, 2010 at 4:42 pm

          Correction:

          “If a petite woman can buy those simple style in the same store that offers more complex style…”

          Style should be ‘styles’ in both cases!

  9. Gulchatai

    July 28, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    I agree with your overall point that designers retailers continue to target "straight" sizes that do not represent the largest segments of the market. However, there is a key distinction between Lane Bryant and designers like Calvin Klein or retailers like Ann Taylor: while Lane Bryant is solely focused on the plus-size consumer, Ann Taylor's core business is straight sizes. Petite sizes are only an offshoot of the core brand; these retailers don't actively market to plus-sizes, either. As far as I know, no brand is currently exclusively focused on the petite segment.

    A better parallel to Lane Bryant is (or rather, was) Petite Sophisticate, which is now closed. Part of the reason that PS went down and LB is still around is that petite women don't have to settle for mediocre design as long as they don't mind paying for tailoring. Plus size women don't have the option to shop straight sizes the way petites do and so are, in a way, a captive segment for LB. With so much variety in the market, a private label retailer focused exclusively on petites is unlikely to survive. A better solution would be a retailer that carried a variety of brands and designers in exclusively petite sizes.

    • bellapetite

      July 29, 2010 at 12:27 am

      Hi Gilchatai: The point being is majority of the marketplace (70% of women) is petite at 5'5" and under. Petite is stature and not body weight. http://bellapetite.com/what-is-petite

      Petite women may have the option to buy standard sizes, but they don't fit our frame. Why should we have to endure additional tailoring cost for the 3% of the country that can fit the standard sizes, this is completely illogical.

      Essentially, designers are only satisfying 3% of women at 5'9" and over, this is poor marketing to ignore the majority. Petite women command 10 billion in retail buying power and we are the largest segment of women. Our demands should be the focus.

      If designers like Ann Taylor and others carry petite sizing, they should use petite models and target the market place adequately. They should not expect petite women to assimiliate with the tall models. We all know clothing looks differently on a petite frame, it's deceptive to show petite clothing on a standard sized 5'9"+ model.

      At this time there are only five high end designers offering petite sizes and they don't use petite models and they don't market the petite lines at all. As a result, many petite women don't know they exist. http://bellapetite.com/only-five-major-designers-

      Sure a solution is that all designers carried accurate petite sizing, but they need to have petite models showing the lines on the runway and in advertisements. This is smart and effective marketing.

      In respect to Petite Sophisticates the truth is their clothes were awful, unless you were over the age of 65… Thank you for your commentary! Make sure to subscribe at http://www.BellaPetite.com/join

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  11. Patsy

    July 23, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    You are so smart in your observations that is why I read you everyday. Bella Petite is the best! Thankyou for being my favorite online magazine luv you Ann Lauren for being such a great role model.

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