Cult Products

Not many people familiar with cult products and why does it called cult.

Taking from wikipedia cult brand is a product or service with committed customer base. The attainment of such true believers or “near fanatical” customers is made possible because cult brands sell more than a product, they sell a lifestyle.

There is also definition for the customer that use this cult products, they were called “Brand Tribe”; a group of people who collectively identify themselves with a product and share similar views and notions about a certain brand.

They are not merely product users, they will also promote this products in any ways possible.

Officially not all product can become a cult products but when they do it will make huge impact for the brand image and the company itself.

Let see some of the brand that have significant cult followers around the world.

a. Volkswagen Beatle

Who doesn’t know VW and its signature bug shape alike. This car have survived since 1937 but still have VW beetle fanbase in almost every country.

b. IKEA

This Swedish furniture giants really know how to dress your small cubicle apartement to look stylish and elegant by their DIY furniture home products. People no longer say “i wanna buy table”,“I wanna buy a dresser”,  they will say “I want to buy IKEA”

c. Starbucks

It just a cup of coffee or latte you can buy anywhere but why you have to go to Starbucks. You meet with your friends or business partner in Starbucks. Starbucks is no longer a place to go for a good coffee but it already become your lifestyle, a place to hang out for people and even doing some business deals.

d. Vespa

This motorbike is awesome, it doesn’t change style much since World War II but it still have its fanbase all over the world.

e. Apple

They have dedicated display for their products and you won’t see apple products displayed side by side with android device. Try to talk about android or Samsung to an iphone fanbase user and you will know why.

Brand Awareness (A Burberry Case Study)

There are a lot of check pattern available in market in various size there are no written brand name on that pattern but once we see it we know immediately that’s“Burberry”. I thought how amazing one brand can achieve that kind of recognition. Then I try to find out their more than a decade history.

Burberry established in1856 by Thomas Burberry a local draper, their first shop is in Basingstoke, England. In 1876 he invented their well known breathable and waterproof gabardine fabric which is later use widely in British army trench coat during WWI. Their coat is widely use by high profile people in the British Force, aviators as well as explorers. Burberry logo, the Equestrian Knight, created in 1901. It has latin wording that says “Prorsum” which means forward, back then Burberry’s often use in WWI or climate changing situation and still move forward even in the most hostile situation, back then Burberry is well know for their durability.

But the infamous burberry check pattern not yet available until 1920, where Burberry start using this pattern as the lining of their trench coat. Burberry is include in one of the brand with traditional value ever since this brand established their check color only available in combination of tan-black-white-red color. And their gabardine trench coat color only available in Tan and Black color for more than 100 years.

Burberry have extensively used by Royals in UK that earns this Brand 2 Royal Warrants. In 1955, Queen Elizabeth II awarded Burberry The royal Warrant and the second one given by The Prince of Wales on 1989.

In 2015 Burberry finally launched other option of color such red, white and pink for their trench coat. This is also the year where their revenue is at their heights. Burberry is not only making outdoor clothing anymore, they spread their wings to fashion, perfumeries, bags, and other fashion merchandises.

So why the Burberry check pattern very famous? Is it because their color never change for almost a century? Or because of the brand image?

Please let me know your thoughts, thank you :)

OUTLET STORES

At first outlet stores as a place where they sell overstock that already out of the season at a bargain prices.

But slowly the trends shifted, Outlet stores no longer sell overstock items instead they intentionally produce goods to be sell at Outlet Stores. Now what makes the Outlets items different than what they sell in their retail stores, why their prices lower than the retail stores. Is it the style? Quality? Size? Or their treatment?

I read some article mentioned that Items in Outlets stores are made by cheaper quality materials, this isn’t true at all. One thing for sure their material quality is not different from their normal retail shop, they even bought from the same source of their normal retail shop same quality and same color/shape.

But the style officially different from the recent style they display on their retail stores. Usually the past seasons styles will be produce for Outlets orders. Not all style tho, there are some limited edition style that certain brand will not produce them for Outlets. They should give their retails shop some uniqueness to keep their loyal customer coming back to retails. 

Do they make the size or the amount of trims produce in Outlet smaller than the retails one, to save cost? This also not everything is the same like when this goods sells in retails store.

Things that they cut back in Outlets usually some small things like labels and packaging, they do still use their original labels but the one with less fancy looks. No more individual or fancy packaging also no more intensive and glamour advertising also. This few things can cut quite some cost to make Outlets goods more cheap.

 So no need to worry, if you are a fan of a certain “Brand” but you have limited budget, you can always look for it in Outlet Stores. And for those of you that shop in retails stores… no need to worry, you have the perks of being a customer who have the most updated styles and limited edition that keeps you being unique from others.

Uzbekistan – Cotton Farming

Perhaps many of readers heard about forced cotton harvesting in Uzbekistan?

The government forced farmer to plant for cotton or they will lose their financial benefit or even their land. During the harvest seasons their citizen are forced to do harvesting for governments, this is including employees from private companies, teachers or even students. If they refused to do this harvesting then they might loose their job or face some abuse either from government or their employers.

Usually they start planting their cotton around May and harvest start in September, which is just 3 months ago. To know what happen in recent harvest situation I include below links from cotton campaign.org for you to see the actual situation in Uzbekistan by clicking here

According to Wikipedia, Uzbekistan can produce about 1 million ton of fiber annually which is 4-5% of world production. With exports quantity around 700,000 – 800,000 tons, 10% of worlds exports. Which takes Uzbekistan as the 6th largest cotton producer in the world. Bad irrigation system and soil pollution had decreased their cotton farming area from 1.8 million to 1.4 million.

Quoting from the "worldknowing.com" below is the statistic of Top 10 largest cotton producing countries:

Top 10 largest Cotton Producing Countries in the World (in Metric Tonnes)

1     China     6,841,593

2     India     5,323,467

3     United States of America     3,598,853

4     Pakistan     2,216,932

5     Brazil     1,639,537

6     Uzbekistan     1,053,742

7     Australia     976,475

8     Turkey     853,831

9     Argentina     214,371

10     Turkmenistan     199,358

Total     World     25,965,743

Most of the world re-known brand have banded using cotton from this countries, thus its also reduced the demand of cotton coming from Uzbekistan. Hopefully in future their government will be more aware of this situation and can create better situation for their economical growth. 

Not by making their citizen as government’s slave, but to treat them very humanly. Because countries is not “A COUNTRY” without its people and their supports.

Child Labor (Follow-up Post)

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Continuing from my last week post...

I realize that my thoughts on my last post is illegal in all countries. But most of the time some of the children still have to work anyway, and they ended up working in a very unpleasant working environment out in the street or dumpster.

In response to my post I received this link from a mentor.    Asia Inspection White Paper on Slavery 

I quote one of the highlights from the above link :

“Today, the number of people enslaved worldwide is estimated to be anywhere between 21 and 36 million, 26% of which are children under the age of 18 “

And there are also a post from our own AMC blog (for AMC Blog post click here)  that states: 

The link in this post states:

“Children should be in school. Not working. They should be learning skills in school that give them opportunities for choice throughout their later life. Working in garment factory at age 13, 14, 15 effectively enslaves an economic class to poverty and low wages their entire life.”

From the 2 two quoted links above you might see there are plenty underage worker that have to works in early age without even having the chances to get proper education for their future.

Different from my own personal case, which occurred back when I was only helping out my family business, and I still had good opportunities to go to school.  I  have been able to enjoy my childhood.  This is unfortunately not the case for all children.  

Obviously its not a simple case. I wonder if it would be possible for all those companies that employ underage workers, if they could also undertake to fund the young workers' social contributions such as taking on responsibility for their education, such as scholarships. Additionally needed would be exemptions on their working hours. 

There are some companies that give scholarship to students who just complete high-school, followed by some provisions that the person is required to work several years in that company after they finish their studies. 

Most companies probably hire underage workers without any considerations of the underage workers' future.

However,  there also are some companies that have high sense of social responsibility. And are attracted by becoming vendor for fashion  brands in a socially correct way. This might increase customer awareness to different level. They will not thought “oh this brands is sweat shop brands”. They will start to think of the social responsibilities that comes with being associated with that brand.

Child Labor

We all know child labor and sweat shop is one of the main issue in any Industry. In garment itself nobe of the well known brand allows any of their subcontractor to have underage worker or paying lower than the minimum wages.

For a well developed country they absolutely have no problem for these type of things. But how about under developing countries where most of their citizen still live in poverty. You can see on the street may children selling stuffs in red lights or even beg for money. The picture in my blog today i taken from an article 5 days ago where this young boy have to sell donuts on street side to help his parents.

Garments is one of the industries that actually can absorbs a lot of human resources. 

Back to my own personal stories, my families running some small home garment industry since my great grandfather. Since i was small, we are all helping the family business. Officially back then i can not sew. Me and my brother often help with the packing or carrying stuff. We even play race who can do faster, we were having fun and we proud we can do what adults do. Officially we are not getting paid for this, but doesn't that makes me and my brother categorize as child labor or not?

Not long ago i found this small home industry, garment officially. The owner actually hired an entire family to work in their facilities. They build several homes around the facilities so their workers and family can stay there. In the morning the parents will start with cutting and sewing, by the afternoon when their chilren finish school, they come to help their parents. They do packing and finishing while chatting with their fellow friends. These are actually much more decents rather than seeing them out in the street trying to earn money.

They really enjoying what they do and they get to enjoy family time and working at the same time. It is one of the most beautiful view i ever see. I wish this can be applied in a larger industries... We might able to see more families have more decent life...

But thats just my cup of tea...

Hi there!!

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This is the first time I am writing a blog so pardon me if some words might sound awkward, I’m trying to be as natural as I can.

So I originally come from Indonesia, this is the place where I got my first experiences as merchandiser. Back then when I just start this job around 15 years ago, orders flooding like tsunami and they are a massive order, big quantity good price. There is even a single style with more than 1 million quantity, I must say merchandising job back then is heaven, every single things we do it seems worth with the profit that comes with it.

I can’t really remember the exact year when the changes coming. Buyer price getting steep and our minimum wages is not helping either. Well, back then they calculate minimum wages based on the price of basic needs which is clothing, food, transport, housing and certain other items. Recently they inquired movie tickets and perfume are included in basic needs but I am not talking about basic necessities here. Continuing about orders….

Nowadays if you wish to get massive quantity then be prepared to haggle with “cut throat” price, well officially if the price in the price ticket only 5 to 7 dollars, how much you think their budget of making it? And that’s not including shipping, handling and advertising. Especially “ADVERTISING”, sometimes I think those models got paid a lot more than a factory earns in a month.

There are times when company need to take break even point order just to avoid idle capacity.

But of course not all orders like that there are also the good price, but be prepared to see order quantity that makes you think “is this bulk order or sample?”, plus unreasonable lead time. Yes, I am talking about the high fashion line. 

Some garment company already open facilities outside of Indonesia years ago where the minimum wages lower than Indonesia. And the rest mostly shifted to lower wages area but still within Indonesia. 

But that’s also have its own problem, last time before I left Indonesia they are still struggling to find workers in low wages area. WHY? Because it seems most of factories choose the same area. But I’m sure everything will turns out fine eventually.

As for the situation in Malaysia, I will get back with you on my next blog. Have a nice day fellow MD’s  :)