Jackie Francis Jessie Collie Catlin Nugent
Stephanie Washburn Lisa Dickerson
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
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.
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