Writing Sample: The Fashion Channel Case Study

Note: This writing sample was written for a college course as a case analysis in causal, non-APA style.

Looking at the case study of The Fashion Channel’s 2007 season marketing lineup, there are countless factors to consider. First of all, looking at the consumer and market data provided there are several questions we as readers must ask to interpret it. Who is the largest and most active audience (as of the 2006 data)? Who is the most valuable audience? What audience does CNN and Lifetime, TFC’s primary competitors, have? From what we know from the background, TFC is desperately in need of a branding makeover. In the past TFC has solidly focused on a “something for everyone” set of programming. And after so long of a lukewarm, unfocused message, TFC is polling behind their primary competitors in every aspect (consumer interest in viewing, awareness, and perceived value). It’s time to solidify a message and audience to save the channel’s ratings.

Going back to our questions, who is the largest and most active audience? The largest (and possibly most active) falls under the “planners and shoppers” category. They make up 35% of the current audience, and are regularly engaged in the content put out currently. The second largest group is the “situationalists”, making up 30% of the current audience. They are only occasionally active for specific needs or shows, and they are highly interested in value. The next group in size is the “disengaged”, and they are 20% of the current make-up. This is the only category that is predominantly male, and this is almost the miscellaneous demographic. The disengaged don’t tend to interact, and their loyalty is easily bought. Finally, the last group is the most enthusiastic: the fashionistas. Even though there are less of them at only 15% of the current audience, they are the most loyal and passionate. They enjoy fashion and find it important to keep up with upcoming trends. Due to their high level of engagement and interest, fashionistas are one of the most valuable audiences. They are going to be the most likely to build up brand loyalty with. The other audience to keep an eye on are the planners and shoppers due to their large size and general activeness with the channel.

The most valuable demographic to focus in on would clearly be 18-34 year-old females after analyzing the data. “Young women” are an extremely influential audience, and having a concentration of them on lock would certainly raise ratings and CPM. In addition, fashionistas (one of our most valuable audiences) have the highest percentage of young women. Therefore, young women are by far the most important demographic for TFC to focus on in their new makeover. That being said, TFC’s biggest competition for that demographic would be Lifetime. CNN may have the largest overall audience, but they have a much higher concentration of basics and men.

The case study itself presents three primary courses of action. The first option is a cross-segment approach going for overall young women in the fashionistas, planners and shoppers, and situationalists categories. To do this, there would have to be a dramatic increase in general marketing and advertisement. This should raise overall awareness and viewing of the channel. It is the least drastic option, which could please those employees and audience members who dislike change. If successful, over time it could boost ratings from 1.0 to 1.2. But if the shift isn’t drastic enough or fails altogether, then there will undoubtedly have to be a 10% in CPM to keep on advertisers. Such a failure could be a huge hit to the channel, and it’s what the new marketing strategy was brought on to avoid. Looking at this approach, it would not be drastic enough to guarantee a success.

The second proposed approach would be to focus strongly on the fashionistas. There is a high concentration of young women, but an overall smaller viewing pool. The lack of targeted eyes could lead to a drop in viewers, and therefore overall ratings (estimated at 1.0 to 0.8). If successful though, the increase in 18-34 female viewers will raise the channel’s value to advertisers and likely bring up the CPM significantly. Young women are often the tastemakers of society, and having most of that audience would give TFC some reputability and renown; possibly bringing in new viewers. Additionally, another $15 million would have to be budgeted to develop programming for the channel’s new look. Looking at this approach objectively, it looks like it may be too much of a risk to focus on the smallest audience pool, no matter how valuable its demographic is.

The final scenario is a joint target on two of the segments: fashionistas and shoppers and planners. Given that fashionistas are the most valuable and shoppers and planners are the largest portion of the audience (and second most valuable), focusing in on these two poses an attractive option. CPM and ratings would increase according to analysts. The largest con would be that an estimated $20 million more would have to be budget in to bring in content for both sections. After analyzing the data though, this option is the simple choice. Not only would it draw in the two most important viewer categories, but also a large concentration of young women. The new, focused message and audience would build up the channel’s reputation as a reputable source for fashion culture, eventually drawing the name-brand power away from Lifetime. Both planners and shopper and situationalists are heavily interested in value, therefore programming geared toward planners and shoppers will also likely draw in some situationalists as well.

It’s important to keep in mind who makes up the audience for the new set of programming. In our audience, 55% of people answered “somewhat agree” to “strongly agree” when it came to wearing whatever’s comfortable. Shopping for value was a positive factor for 59% of the audience. And a large 65% enjoyed special TV programs on current fashion. The fashionistas are important, but the planners and shoppers have 20% more people. Therefore, a large chunk of the new program will have to be designed for the thrifty, practical, value-loving everyday people. In addition, TFC needs to push their constant content. With CNN and Lifetime pushing 7 and 10 hours of content a week respectively, they simply won’t be able to compete with hour number once TFC is focused and rebranded.

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