Project submitted to : London College of Fashion, UAL. Unit : International Marketing Strategies. Grade : B+. Disclaimer : the integrality of this project is not shown in this portfolio, contact me for further details regarding the outcomes of this research and recommendations. Evaluated brand AMBUSH recent internationalization strategy in the context of its business environment using critical analysis and key theoretical frameworks. Designed strategic marketing proposals for future development on the French market considering barriers of entry. Created a timeline for the stages of development on the Short Term (the next two years) and Medium Term (the next five years).

Entering further the French market and especially Paris would be an interesting move for AMBUSH. It could benefit from the rising success of Asian High Street brands in France.

As a matter of fact, this can be illustrated through the opening of Japanese label A Bathing Ape’s first Paris store in response to French consumers demand (WWD, 2019).

Moreover, Paris’ status as a platform for high street/luxury brands plays an important role in their introduction to the international fashion scene. We can take the example of Turkish High Street brand Les Benjamins which made, successfully, its international debut during its very first catwalk at Paris Men's Fashion Week FW20 (Arabnews, 2020).

Finally, French retailers have understood the purchasing power of French millennials. It can be depicted through the opening of Galeries Lafayettes Champs Elysées aiming to attract a more local and younger target than Galeries Lafayette Haussmann : French millennials.

This target now accounts for half of the store consumers (Le Parisien, 2019) and constantly seeks for innovation in terms of design (Forbes, 2019) and a consumer-centric retail experience according to a research (Accenture, 2020). For this aim to be achieved, no less than 650 international brands have been curated to offer a limited selection of designs. French millenials are therefore able to discover exclusively pieces from popular and rising high street brands such as Heron Preston, Comme des Garçons and AMBUSH (Galeries Lafayette, 2020).

Thanks to Ansoff Matrix (1957) and research on AMBUSH we can observe that the brand has been adopting a growth strategy moving slowly from market development to market penetration in France and especially Paris. The brand’s presence on the French market is currently slowly increasing thanks to offline and online tools. As a matter of fact, a small selection of the brand’s designs can be found at Galeries Lafayette Champs Elysées and more recently, the Converse x AMBUSH collaboration was exclusively sold at niche concept store Tom Greyhound in popular neighborhood : Le Marais (Tom Greyhound, 2020). In order to develop further this strategy to wholesale and develop its visibility on the French market, brand AMBUSH occasionally showcases its designs : both jewelry and ready-to-wear in showrooms dedicated to buyers and press during Paris Men’s Fashion Week (Vogue, 2019).

Adopting a methodical short term and medium term entry market strategy aims at developing a strong brand image and customer base while increasing sales. This could be translated through the organization of a pop up store, the opening of a flagship store, the diversification of product lines and an adapted communication strategy around customers behaviours and the French market. This focus on customer retention and brand image building would therefore contribute to AMBUSH long term expansion from Paris to other cities on the French market such as Cannes, Nice and Lyon.

Product and Price.

We can observe that AMBUSH product lines do not change from one market to another. This straight product extension strategy (Kotler et al., 2008) has been allowing the brand not to financially invest in further product development. AMBUSH’s current standardized offer strongly highlights its desire to preserve its DNA and core values internationally therefore product adaptation should be avoided. However, for the brand to grow and to drive its sales on the French market, further product development including product categories diversification is necessary.

In the short term, developing further existing product categories by offering more designs would be the first step for the brand’s expansion. As we can observe on AMBUSH e-boutique, the low variety in terms of items leads to the categorization of different products under the same product page. We can take the example of “Dress and Skirts” (AMBUSH, 2020). Narrowing the category “Dress” down could drive the development of sub-categories such as “Cocktail and Party Dresses” and “Day Dresses” as seen on competitor Off White e-commerce platform.
In the medium term, elaborating new standardized product categories would be appropriate. Collaborating with internationally recognized brands such as Nike has not only allowed AMBUSH to attract the attention of French millennials but also to gain expertise on sneakers. In addition the rising popularity of sneakers among French millenials has allowed Nike to be ranked number 1 sneakers brand in 2019 (Hypebeast, 2020). Therefore AMBUSH could create an emotional connection with French millenials when developing the new product category “Shoes” thanks to their appeal towards sneakers (Varley, 2020).

The pricing strategy should not be adapted to the French market. It should stay standardized to all markets. Indeed, transparency in terms of pricing due to online retailing and the decrease of distribution costs due to increasing competition do not play in favor of price adaptation (Varley, 2020). Moreover, if purchased on AMBUSH e-store all prices are pre calculated after tax no matter what market consumers are ordering from.

- Online
AMBUSH adopted a direct marketing entry strategy thanks to its e-commerce platform and in addition to pure players models such as Farfetch and Ssence to penetrate the French market. It allows the brand to control its image while building a database across a large geographic coverage.

In the Short to Medium term, AMBUSH should focus on investing in User Experience development to create the ideal customer journey while retaining consumers on its e-commerce platform (Design Week, 2011). According to Deloitte, 60% of millennials activities are done digitally (2017). A highly interactive and smooth UX would push French millenials to spend a greater amount of time per visit on AMBUSH e-shop. The label’s acquisition by New Guards Group would therefore possibly allow it to benefit from technology implemented on competitor Off White’s e-boutique.

- Offline
AMBUSH products are available offline exclusively thanks to a wholesale distribution strategy in France. Since it involves shared control with a partner, risks are medium (Sternquist, 2007) and desired customers can be targeted. However this is not sufficient for the brand to develop its presence on the French market.

In the short term, opening a ephemere pop up store in Paris could lead to the recruitment of new consumers and the drive of AMBUSH website traffic. In order to attract as many potential consumers as possible, this pop up boutique could be held for three days including the weekend and a launch party during which French influencers and press could be invited to cover the event. This would involve a modest investment and could benefit the brand in terms of awareness on a longer term. We can take as an example Supreme x Louis Vuitton successful pop up held back in 2017 (Fashion Network, 2017).

Establishing a flagship store in Paris on a medium/long term perspective would be a strong step to AMBUSH physical presence on the French market. Contrary to wholesale, the brand could provide a larger assortment matching its potential product extension strategy. A flagship store could meet French millenials need for in-store shopping experience (Accenture, 2013) while being in total immersion into AMBUSH world. However, the label should be conscious that this organic growth strategy is riskier (Sternquist, 2007) as it does not essentially aim at maximizing profits but would occur financial and time costs to create a local brand image (Webb, 2020).

AMBUSH’s communication being omnichannel, it engages its international audience using a standardized communication strategy involving all marketing and communication mix dimensions from social media, public relations, advertising, sales and promotion to personal selling and direct-marketing.

In the short term, the brand should mostly focus on other aspects of the marketing mix in order to build a stronger visibility on the French market. 92% of global consumers trust earned media more than any other form of advertising (Pew Research Center, 2010), therefore word of mouth generated thanks to the development of the elements place and product would be highly beneficial. Public Relations including the involvement of a third party such as influencers for brand endorsement or magazine coverage for potential pop up stores would reinforce AMBUSH visibility amongst French millennials and drive traffic to both offline and online boutiques.

In the medium term, AMBUSH will be able to understand even deeper French millenials and therefore would adapt its communication strategy. Understanding target consumers and the market are a priority when adapting international marketing strategies (Zorpas, 2020). Maximizing social media presence could help AMBUSH to retain customers and convert them into loyal consumers. As a matter of fact, 62% of millennials tend to stay loyal to brands who actively engage them through social media (FedEx, 2020).

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