Last night I realized that clothing shops in SL tend to neatly fit into a small number of categories. I’ve described each of them below.
1. The Haute
Three words: Big. Name. Designer. The Haute either are, or are attempting to become, a “name” in Second Life. The stores tend to look classy, and the items are high priced – typically day dresses in the $350L to $600L price range. Usually the outfits are well constructed. Many of these stores are leading edge…they don’t simply copy real life design trends, they desire to break new ground. Occasionally these stores may participate in events, fund raisers or hunts, especially if there is a high fashion focus to the event. Sometimes their in-world groups have a cost to join, and some stores are miserly with sending out freebies to groups.
2. The Niche
Typically small to mid size stores where the designers/management have focused on a particular community or style: kawaii, goth, historical period, vintage/vintage-influenced, neko, gor, etc. I’d also put a more generic trendy urban style into this type of store. The clothing is usually mid-priced, with dresses in the $200L to $250L range. Quality is generally good, although there are exceptions. These stores often participate in hunts, fund-raisers, fairs and other events, and often will include freebie and/or low priced items as promotions at events. They are also more likely to be a part of weekly sales promotions than a Haute. Typically, their in-world groups will be free to join, and some stores will be generous with their group gifts. While they’re all too happy for newcomers outside their niche market to “discover” their store, they like designing for their focus market and don’t want to lose it.
3. The Artisan/Hobbyist
This type of shop is run by someone who typically views their business in Second Life as a creative outlet, not a potential source of income…just paying the rent would be enough for many of them.. The clothing is often offbeat and/or trendy, but low priced. Quality is usually good, and shops are usually small. Artisans may contribute to a hunt, or to an event, especially a fund raiser that is for a cause important to them. For some, getting recognized by SL citizens for their creativity is a driver for becoming involved with events. Since many artisans don’t have a ton of enthusiasm for marketing, their frequency of posts to in-world or subscribo groups may be erratic. For these brands to grow and become more commercially successful, usually this personality type would need to partner with others who are more business-oriented.
4. The Up-and-Comer
More drive than an Artisan, and more mainstream than a Niche, The Up-and-Comer may have a small shop – for now, but they’ve got big dreams, and they’re investing time, energy, and some real life $ in making it happen. Their prices are lower than Haute stores, and they are aggressive about promotions, especially those that have some sort of prestige attached to them. They use blogs, in-world groups, and subscribo groups heavily as marketing tools. They evaluate different ways to reward customer loyalty and bring in new customers. Their quality is fair to very good, and their prices moderate.
5. The Mass Marketer
If an Up-and-Comer isn’t aspiring to be a Haute, they’re likely aspiring to be a Mass Marketer. Often these are big stores. The clothing is fair to very good quality and usually moderate to even low priced. These stores don’t tend to get too “out there” with their designs, because they simply want to attract the widest potential customer base for their clothing. They will feature basics and be on top of seasonal clothing, as well as acknowledging design trends that are moving into the real-life mainstream. The goal is to be the dependable “go-to” place. Marketing here is all about encouraging loyalty/repeat sales and keeping on the customer’s radar; as well as acquiring new customers. Word of mouth for these stores will generally be good, especially given to newbies in SL, since their clothing tends to be a good value. I’ve noticed that these stores typically don’t participate in big grid-wide weekly promotions as often as other types of stores. Some of them do utilize store or sim-related promotions and hunts. Typically, these type of stores use in-world groups, subscribo groups, and group chat as a means of developing relationship with their customers.
6. Carbon Copy
By the time a customer has been involved in SL for a few weeks, they have recognized what is going on with these stores, and have likely begun to avoid them. These shops feature no-name “franchises” and many color versions of template items, with little to no thought given to even creatively using textures. While some of these stores are low-priced, a surprising number have set fairly high prices for low quality items. I suspect the idea here is to make money off ignorance (primarily of newbies, because most others would be unlikely to fall prey to believing these items are a good use of Linden dollars). Carbon Copy types have utilized XStreetSL a lot….you can often tell at a glance because their images are even worse than their clothing (I do wonder how many of these people are going to make the transition to the SL Marketplace). Sometimes they participate in hunts, and $60L Weekends and similar promotions if they are trying to draw in more business (a Carbon Copy with dreams, or delusions, of becoming a Mass Marketer, perhaps). I don’t typically see a lot of effort put into developing customer relationships or retaining customers, because, let’s face it, as soon as someone knows better, they’re likely no longer a customer of a Carbon Copy store.
So…what do you think? Have I missed a group? Do you have any insight on the groups I’ve mentioned?