helping curvy women aroundthe world find beautiful fashions B u s i n e s s F i n a n c e
- Demonstrate the ability to formulate marketing strategies that incorporate psychological and sociological factors which influence consumer’s decision. (Lo-3)
- Develop critical and analytical thinking necessary to overcome challenges and issues of marketing in the changing global environment. (Lo- 4)
Read the case study below and answer the questions:
- Describe Ashley Stewart’s retail strategy using the 6 Ps.
- Who is Ashley Stewart’s target market?Could/should that target market be expanded? Explain.
- What are Ashley Stewart’s bases for sustainable competitive advantage? Discuss.
The Case Study:
An auditorium full of graduate and undergraduate students was eager to hear what James
Rhee, the CEO of Ashley Stewart, the largest plus-size retailer in the United States, would
have to say. How did a middle-aged Korean American man turn around a struggling brand
that catered primarily to African American women? But Rhee was accustomed
to such questions and ready to answer them.
Founded in 1991, Ashley Stewart was named after two distinct style
icons: Laura Ashley
and Martha Stewart. The founder Joseph Stint sold
his shares of the company in 2000. The following decades saw some challenges,
such that the company filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and then reorganized
again in 2014. But by that point, Rhee—inspired by the brand’s
promise and its connections to its customers—had resigned from his position
on the board as an investor in the retailer to become its CEO.44
Today, Ashley Stewart maintains just shy of 100 stores in the United
States and a global e-commerce platform, helping curvy women around
the world find beautiful fashions that fit.
So how did a former high school teacher and hedge fund manager
manage the success of a fashion brand?
Industry Environment and Ashley Stewart’s Position Approximately
67 percent of U.S. women wear sizes 14 to 34; however, many
companies still don’t offer efficient options in this category. Therefore,
the plus-size apparel industry accounts for only approximately
$20 billion of the $108 billion apparel industry. Still, it is one of the
categories in fashion.45 Whereas once the fashion
industry ignored this segment and focused almost exclusively on wearers
of smaller sizes, today, retailers cannot ignore this segment. Sales
of women’s plus-size apparel have increased almost 17 percent from
2013 to 2016.46
Just like every other retail setting, women’s fashions also have been
influenced by the growth of the Internet. As the number of digital shoppers
continues to increase, virtually every brand is seeking a space to establish
itself in the digital world, to attract attention and expand its reach
through traffic to either its website or its stores. At