Vera Bradley

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					     IMC Plan


Vera Bradley




     Jackie Francis Jessie Collie Catlin Nugent
     Stephanie Washburn Lisa Dickerson
     [IMC]
     12/5/2008


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       The Vera Bradley story began in March 1982. Gals pals, Patricia Miller and Barbara

Bradley Baekgaard, were destined for vacation and were waiting in an Atlanta airport.

According to the Vera Bradley website, as they watched people walked by, the women were

surprised at the severe lack of feminine, stylish luggage bags. After returning home from

vacation, Miller and Bradley Baekgaard founded Vera Bradley, which they named after

Barbara’s mother. The company started out small and consisted of cutting out paisley patterns

and sending them out to other people to sew. Vera Bradley was initially popular with older

women, but gradually younger women and girls caught on (Nalepa, 2006). Within a year, Vera

Bradley had made a name for itself as people continued to spread the word of this small

company.


                                          Situational Analysis


       There are a number of internal and external factors to observe and consider when

researching and evaluating Vera Bradley. Internal factors include things such as strengths and

weaknesses of the product, key benefits of the particular product and unique selling points.

Important external factors include the customer analysis, competitive analysis and the

environmental analysis.


       The name Vera Bradley is associated with much strength but also many weaknesses.

Key strengths of the company are that every season there are new, fresh designs offered

throughout the entire product line.


       Weaknesses associated with the Vera Bradley brand include the limited time that the

seasonal patterns are offered. The patterns are usually only offered anywhere from eighteen


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months to two or three years. This proves to be a disadvantage because after a pattern is retired

it can be difficult to find and purchase. Another weakness associated with the company is the

brand’s lack of retailer support and advertisement.


       The customer analysis discusses consumer buying habits, purchase decision process,

various demographic and psychographic factors, ect. A number of questions are considered

when examining the customer analysis. One of the most important factors in the consumer

analysis is how the product perceived by customers since this factor alone can decide whether or

not consumers will buy certain products, in addition to stimulating repeat purchases


               The competitive analysis discusses the competition in ways such as their

positioning, their ad budgets, and the media strategies used. Vera Bradley many known direct

competitors that include Louis Vuitton, Dior, Gucci, and the many varieties of imitation brands

when it comes to the handbags. Because Vera Bradley does have a diverse product portfolio,

some of its direct competitors are also indirect competitors. A lot of the key benefits of the

competition directly parallel those that Vera Bradley offers. Competitors offer products

positioned as being high quality, durable, and long lasting. Product prestiges are among the key

benefits shared between Vera Bradley and its closest competitors.


       Lastly, the environmental analysis will touch on any current trends or developments that

may affect the promotional program. There are a couple of trends that Vera Bradley could lean

towards. A popular trend that has emerged within the past couple of years has been ‘going

green’. This has become a very popular trend with many companies, and one that could prove

beneficial to Vera Bradley since its product are cotton based and may be washed and hung to

dry. Vera Bradley competitors, such as Louis Vuitton, use leather material for the majority of
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their products which could prove to be a competitive advantage for Vera Bradley since the

majority of their products are made from fabrics. Another current trend is advertising is through

social networking sites, such as Facebook and Myspace and blogs. This is a great advertising

strategy to reach the younger to middle age consumers.


                                       Positioning strategy


       Vera Bradley is perceived as a quality signature collection with a status of prestige, yet a

level of affordability for most. Its products are made of stylish quilted cotton which is used on

the company’s luggage, handbags, and accessories. Vera Bradley combines smart product

designs with distinctive and colorful fabrics and trims, which has earned them a reputation as a

leader in the gift industry (http://www.verabradley.com). Competitors in the handbag market are

perceived as having quality and a strong image. However, they are known for being more

expensive, creating a perception among consumers as being more elite. This has allowed

competititive brands to increase prices while maintaining an image since they have already

created a loyalty to their brand among many of their consumers. However, this also allows for

imitations and black market selling.


                                               Advertising


       When developing the creative strategy, our main objective is to build the brand image by

using advertisements that display the actual product more prominently while emphasizing our

green attributes. Our target audience will be directed toward the household consumers, mainly

women of all ages who are environmentally conscience. The message theme that will be used

throughout the different media strategies will promote the fact that Vera Bradley is made from


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natural fibers, such as cotton, instead of leather. Also, we will be promoting that “going green”

is the new style to follow. This is one of the company’s unique selling points that will set Vera

Bradley apart from its competitors.


       The main advertising appeal that is going to be used throughout the media strategy is the

emotional appeal. Through our advertisements, we are trying to capture the viewer’s attention

and foster an attachment between the consumer and the brand (Clow & Baack, 2007). The

visual elements Vera Bradley’s ads contribute to a feeling or mood of serenity, happiness and

altruism. One of our storyboards exemplifies this. In this storyboard, it shows a woman getting

ready and as she is ready to leave, she reaches into her closet to grab her Vera Bradley handbag.

As she is reaching into the closet, a picture of a cotton field is shown as she picks the handbag

she wants. The intent of this image is to convey the idea that sporting Vera Bradley handbags is

an all natural alternative to fashion and function. This ad will inform consumers that the product

is made from all natural fibers. Through this message, the serenity of the cotton field will be

conveyed to the consumer in a “feel good” way. This storyboard also includes peripheral cues.

In this instance it is music, which will convey a sense of happiness, tranquility and innocence.




                                         Personal Selling


       Vera Bradley’s personal selling technique for retail outlets is currently in specialty stores.

We want to continue with this plan to keep the exclusivity of our product. One concept that we

would like to add is having sales representatives that host Vera Bradley parties at potential

consumer’s houses. These representatives will have samples of the newest merchandise:


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handbags, wallets, totes, etc. The women representing Vera Bradley will be expected to promote

the handbags, explaining the versatility and uses of the handbag as well as the ease of caring for

the handbags. They will also be expected to inform the potential buyers of our ‘green’ concept

and stress the reasons why buying Vera Bradley ultimately preserves the environment.

Representatives will keep a certain amount of merchandise with them to be able to offer

customers at the time of the purchase or an order will be placed and the item will be shipped

directly to the customer’s residence.




                                Evaluation of overall IMC Plan


       Often people do not buy “green” products because they are concerned that green products

are low in quality and performance (Clow & Baack, 2007). If we are able get first time

consumers to make a trial purchase through sales promotions, they will recognize and experience

the high quality our products offer. Additionally, Vera Bradley will also be able to reduce

perceived consumer risk by temporarily offering a lower price. This will not only reduce

skepticism in price sensitive consumers, but will allow consumers to invest in Vera Bradley

products. Overall, the objectives outlined in our IMC plan will reposition.




       **NOTE** Information and Materials have been deleted from this paper




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