The Most Important Fashion Trend of 2019

2019 is drawing to a close and another cycle of fashion trends ends.  Not only did this year present to us statement chunky trainers, biker shorts and tiny sunglasses, but it introduced the concept of sustainability, with the help of 15 year-old climate activist, Greta Thunberg. A change is certainly happening in the world of fashion, consumers are becoming more conscious when purchasing and I for one hope it isn’t just a “trend” we leave behind come the new year.

Sustainable fashion: clothing/footwear/accessories that have been sourced and created ethically, this includes all different stages including; production, manufacturing, transporting, marketing etc. 

Why do we need sustainable fashion?

As a 20 year-old female, I can admit that I too fall victim to the push notifications that light up my phone screen from PLT and MissGuided, I’m only human and 30% off is just really hard to ignore. So, I scramble to create a basket as though this “last chance” discount doesn’t occur every other day, stocking up on cropped jumpers, back up dresses and a  few options for those “jeans and a nice top” kind of nights, maybe even a new bobble hat because its getting colder and I don’t have one that colour? We are all too familiar with this pattern, becoming mindless creatures of consumption for no real reason other than habit. You may be wondering “So, what? I’m not harming anyone.” And I do agree, you aren’t harming anyone… intentionally. After some thinking and a few hours scouring the internet, it turns out that this sort of behaviour does in fact contribute to the worlds suffering, as well as many of its people. I’ll list below some facts that I found to be a good wake-up call and unveil the truth about the industry.

  1. The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, being second only to the oil industry.
  2. 170 million children are exposed to child labour, with a large percentage being worked in the textile and fashion industry as the work is considered to be low-skilled labour.
  3. In 2018, 1,113,000 tonnes of new clothing items were purchased, most of which ends up being dumped in a landfill which won’t decompose for 200 years or more.
  4. There are over 40 million garment factory workers worldwide, making below $3 a day, working in horrific conditions.

Where can we go for sustainable fashion?

I think by beginning to question and consider where our fashion is coming from and how it gets from laptop screen to our door, is a good place to start. Sustainable fashion is a growing market and if we as consumers show the demand is there, it will only become more accessible to us.

H&M have been championing a more sustainable future for fashion since 2013 when they launched their global garment collection initiative. This allowed customers to drop off their unwanted clothes (of any brand and condition) to any of the H&M stores, rewarding them with a £5 voucher. Along with this, they launch a new Conscious Exclusive collection each year which they create high end and environmentally friendly pieces.

Zara saw this opportunity and following in H&M’s footsteps launched their own campaign, “Join Life”, consisting of sustainable garments made form forest friendly and animal friendly materials. These effort from two high street brands may seem like a small drop in a massive ocean however it is a step towards a brighter future, and by bringing sustainable clothing to mainstream brands it is much more accessible to the average consumer.

Following the sustainable and conscious consumer trend that is becoming more and more popular, is rental websites for your clothes. We’ve all been there, buying a brand new outfit that we love, we wear, we get our Instagram pic, we never see it again and it is put to a dark corner of our wardrobe. These websites offer a solution to these poor habits, by simply renting the occasion-wear, go to the event and conveniently return.  I think its a great idea especially for the party season with those Christmas nights out that just aren’t worth investing in and I can see this type of business growing in the new year. Below I have included some sites along with their Instagram tag if you want to investigate further.

  1. Rent A Dress UK (@rentadressuk)
  2. Hurr (@hurr)
  3. My Wardrobe HQ (@mywardrobe_hq)
  4. Hire Street UK (@hirestreetuk)

I think in today’s climate, we all have some sort of responsibility to do as much as we can in creating a healthier planet and this is just a small change we can consider doing, and implement in our day to day lives. Even just to take that moment when frantically browsing the latest influencer line from ‘In The Style’ to ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”and “Do I really want it?” And if the answer is yes, then buy it, treat yourself. But if there is a moment of doubt then why not opt for a different option, one with less of a detrimental impact, without exploitation and without pollution. Just some food for thought.

Bronagh Carey is a final year student  Bsc in Communication Management and Public Relations  at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram bronaghcarey_ and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bronagh-carey-702626173/

The Amazon Rainforest Fires of 2019

This summer, the Amazon rainforest began to burn at a rapid rate that hasn’t been seen before in recent years. How could a place described as the lungs of our planet be destroyed in front of our very eyes? Deforestation isn’t a new issue for the Amazon, it can be down to naturally occurring fires but the majority are thought to have been started illegally by ranchers and loggers. Burning down acres of land allows ranchers to create grazing ground for their cattle which in turn destroys the habitat of thousands of species of animals that call the Amazon their home. This threat extends to the Indigenous people who live in and around the rainforest as their protected land is targeted and they are forced to flee.

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There has been a lot of speculation in the media about who exactly is to blame for the increased deforestation rates in the Amazon. Donald Trump is thought to be a key player in the disaster as his trade war with China has left Brazil grappling to support the Chinese agricultural demands. Although, the main problem seems to lie in Brazil’s domestic policies.

It’s hard to discuss the issues surrounding the Amazon rainforest fire without mentioning Brazil’s current president, Jair Bolsonaro. Spoiler Alert: He is not one of the good guys. Bolsonaro is the leader of the Social Liberal Party, as its name suggests it was once firmly rooted in left-wing politics. However, in a bizarre turn of events, Bolsonaro has led the party to abandon its liberal policies. Like its leader, the party now advocates for hard-line stances on abortion, gay marriage and women’s rights.

Bolsonaro himself put the blame on local Non-Governmental Organisations. He believes the very people who are there to protect the environment deliberately started the fires as they had been denied funding. Of course, this seems rather unlikely and there is absolutely no evidence to back up his claim.

The Martyr of the Amazon

2004 FILE PHOTO OF U.S. SISTER DOROTHY STANGPictured above is Sister Dorothy Stang. (Photo: Carlos Silva/AVP)

For many people living in Brazil, speaking up about what is happening in the Amazon is a matter of life or death. When I was researching for this blog post, I came across the story of Sister Dorothy Stang. She was an American nun who had been living in Brazil and was known for helping locals who had been displaced by ranchers. She taught sustainable farming methods and was an advocate for the protection of the rainforest. Her work to protect it, and the communities who lived there, angered ranchers. She was placed on a hit list and at the age of 73, on the 12th of February 2005, Dorothy was shot and killed.

Celebrities Speak Out

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At first, there was a distinct lack of media attention across the world as the fires increased. Actress, Zoe Kravitz, shared a popular post (pictured above) that went viral during the crisis. It compares the lack of media coverage to the Notre Dame fire, which in comparison was covered extensively. With the Notre Dame fire, there was a degree of shock value as a historical building was damaged. Perhaps because the destruction of the rainforest is harder to measure, the media tend to focus on stories that more readily capture the public’s attention. 

As the situation worsened, celebrities and public figures began to show their support by sharing posts highlighting the disaster. Many celebrities are beginning to get involved more actively in politics, especially in matters such as climate change. Celebrity support cannot be underestimated as it can act as a spotlight on events, focuses media attention on an issue and creates pressure for politicians to take action.

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What can we do?

In the face of the current political landscape, it can feel pretty helpless watching events unfold halfway across the world.  However, there are small steps we can take that make all the difference in the fight against climate change.

  1. Share it

If you feel passionate about a particular issue sharing it online can keep it in the public sphere. Even talking about it with your family and friends can help keep the conversation alive even when then the news cycle moves on to the next story.

2. Reduce your consumption of meat and dairy

The increased demand for meat and dairy in recent years has caused the clearing of the Amazon to make room for fields to feed live-stock. If we as a society cut back our intake of animal products it would make a huge difference in the battle against climate change.

3. Support politicians that care about the environment

Climate change isn’t just happening around the world; it’s happening at home too. The worst thing we could do is support politicians who don’t even believe it exists.

Sarah Sweeney is a final year student Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarah-sweeney-ab6635143/  and Instagram @sarahsween3y

Guinness officially done with the colour black?

Disclaimer- I’m neither a Rugby nor Guinness fan but I recently feel like Guinness have been taking a slightly different but great approach to some of their campaigns during Rugby tournaments.

Unlike me, you may have watched Ireland disappointing exit from the semi-final of the Rugby World Cup in October, but did you see this tweet from one of team’s main sponsors?

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Guinness Ireland took to twitter urging fans to have a pint of Carlsberg if they are looking to drown their sorrows after Ireland’s 46-14 loss against the New Zealand ‘All blacks’.  It could be just me, but it does seem odd a brand urging their online audience to drink another beverage let alone a rival beer, however this isn’t the first time this year Guinness have suggested consumers not to drink a pint of the black stuff.

Guinness Clear

In 2019, Guinness took over as the main sponsor for the Six Nations and in the lead up, they launched their “new product” Guinness Clear.

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Initially I actually thought it was a new alcoholic drink because of all the TV advertising, the social media campaign and the media attention, but turns out its just water.

The reasoning behind ‘Guinness Clear’ was part of the brands responsible drinking campaign to encourage moderation to all the fans watching the rugby. They took into consideration that some people don’t feel comfortable ordering water in a pub, so now they don’t have too! Guinness ‘re-branded’ water so fans could stick to their favourite brand of refreshment while also being drink aware. Guinness Clear had a large presence at the Six Nations and continues to have a presence throughout rugby stadiums with branded water fonts and sampling teams. On this occasion, Guinness successfully used their Six Nations platform to raise awareness and encourage this audience to be drink aware but what reasoning could Guinness have to want their consumers to drink Carlsberg?

Guinness Ireland has been one of IRFU’s main sponsors for years, as well as being brewed in Ireland it only seems right they show their support and respect for the local team and this is how they did it, they told their social media audience not to drink a pint of the black stuff because of the associated colour with the winning New Zealand team.

Why Carlsberg?

It would make more sense if Guinness had of suggested having a pint of Hop House 13 as they brew this lager, but they considered the colours of the branding of these beers in support for the Irish team. Guinness is known for its black consistently with its white head, the same colours as the New Zealand ‘All Blacks’ kit, while Carlsberg is known for its green and white branding, same as the Ireland kit. Hop house however is red, white and black, so it wouldn’t make as much sense.
As well as taking into consideration the colours ,Guinness strategically picked Carlsberg. Carlsberg is brewed and marketed under license by the same company that own Guinness, Diageo.

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Fans were quick to praise Guinness for their response to the loss. The tweet seen 5,536 retweets and 20,160 likes on twitter and on Instagram it has received 16,211 likes, a 493% increase in likes from their previous post. As well as creating talk on social media, this stunt also created a lot of positivity for the brand as well as the Irish Rugby team.

So how can Guinness afford to be so risky with their campaigns?

Guinness has been around since 1759 and over the years they have created a well-established brand. Their popularity has given them opportunities to get creative with their campaigns and continue to be one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in the world.

Jenna Sloan is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. You can find her on – Twitter: @jennaaaaa_ and LinkedIn: Jenna Sloan 

Why I chose to study Part-Time

When I decided to leave my degree after my first year at University in Liverpool due to student finance problems in 2015, I felt completely lost and undecided on what to do next. The only thing I was sure of was that I needed to move home. At the age of 22, the majority of my friends had either finished their degrees, still completing their degrees or in full-time work since our school days, which made me feel even more behind.

I still find it surreal that young people at the age of 16 are asked to choose a career they want to do for the rest of their lives. I am 26 years old now and if I am completely honest, I am still not completely sure. At 21, after much consideration, I felt I had to complete a degree to achieve successful career prospects. However, I was never the academic type, I was a more practical learner. For example, if I was shown how to do something, I would pick it up much faster and a downfall throughout most of my school life, if I wasn’t passionate about something, I would lose all interest. Therefore, I knew whatever option I chose to study I knew my degree had to be something I was particularly interested in or even good at.

After my time studying in Liverpool, I realised my skills lied in the promotion and the marketing aspects of many of my module tasks. It was then when I got back home I decided to look into courses around, PR and marketing at Universities in Belfast. I looked into Ulster University’s website and seen the course Communication Management and Public Relations. I decided to apply and go to their open day at The MAC theatre in Belfast and it was there I got to speak to the Course Director, Kerry-Ann. I emphasised my interests and that I wanted a course that would be flexible around my part-time job, that was when Kerry-Ann suggested part-time studying.

My perception of part-time was night classes, where the majority of the people would be older than me and I wouldn’t exactly get the university experience. However, Kerry-Ann reassured me that I would be in classes with the full-time students during the day, although it would be up to me what modules I decided to do and how long It would take me to complete my degree. Although for me there were still both pros and cons, one con in particular. A placement year wasn’t included in a part-time degree, for reasons I didn’t understand. A placement year was something I was always interested in as many friends of mine had the opportunity of a placement year and always mentioned that it was some of the best years of their lives, whether they stayed at home or moved abroad. However, the idea of part-time still sparked my interest and I decided to look into it further.

After some research, I was shocked to find out so much about part-time studying and confused as to why I had not looked into it before. What I found was as a part-time student you can be eligible for a means-tested fee grant and also a course grant. I also found out to study part-time was much more cost-effective and realised you can save a lot of money in comparison to full-time. Therefore, if you decide you want to complete your part-time degree in within 5 years, that is just one more year than a full-time degree with a placement year. The part-time total fee can be paid either in an up-front payment which means if you pay the full cost of your annual fees at enrolment you can receive a 5% discount. Or you can opt for a flexible payment, to help spread the cost of your studies, this means tuition fees can be paid back in monthly instalments if you wish.

Fast forward nearly 4 years, it is November and this semester I have started my final year modules that will cover the rest of this year and next. This will be a total time of 5 years spent at University when I finally graduate.

Looking back since I started my university journey part-time, it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. Throughout my time studying I have been able to balance my degree around my home life, social life and best of all my work experience. Throughout the past few years, I have been lucky enough to secure part-time paid work experience in marketing and Public Relation agencies. Therefore, when I complete my studies in 2021 I will have a degree behind me as well has over 2+ years’ experience in Marketing and Public Relations, which I know a lot of employers look for. Not bad for an extra year of university, and fewer student fees at the end, I must say.

 

Kirby Axon is a part-time final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at – Instagram: Kirby-Axon and LinkedIn: kirbyaxon

BREAKING NEWS: Instagram Likes MIA

It’s probably hard for most of us to imagine a world where Likes don’t matter. I remember when I was 14 and a selfie I got before Clubland got 24 likes on Facebook. I’ve never felt as famous. But finally, finally, someone has caught themselves on and realised the damage social media pressure is doing to us. Instagram. Is. Getting. Rid. Of. Likes. Supposedly.

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The new feature has been in the works for a few months now, being tested on small groups of users since July in over 7 countries including Canada, Australia and Japan. It’s just about to be trailed in US, meaning it most likely will be active worldwide in the pretty near future. And it’s giving Instagram users a lot of mix feelings.

So what will the change mean? Rather than seeing the number of people who Likes a post, Instagram will show “Liked by [who you fancy If you’re lucky] and others“. Meaning your followers will never know the number of Likes your post got. I mean they technically could count all the users, but who’s really gonna be so bothered to do that? I hope no one. Please spend your time on something more beneficial. If you want too you can see the number of Likes your post got if you click onto it, but only if you chose to do so. It’s easy to avoid the number if you want too. Good bye Instagram Anxiety.

Why are Instagram doing this? Isn’t liking pictures the whole point?

Basically Instagram wants to become the safest place on the internet, with the happiest users. It’s no shock that Instagram has been heavily criticised about its effect on mental health, especially to Generation Z. A 2017 survey carried out by The Royal Society for Public Health & Young Health Movement proved Instagram to be the most likely platform to have a negative effect on young people’s health and well-being. So, when announcing the change Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri said,

“the idea is to de-pressurise Instagram and make it a space that’s more focused on connections, conversations and community, especially for young people.”

He wants the app to be a fun place for people to share and connect, not a place where you value your worth over a number.

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So, on a personal level, what do I think of this? I think it’s great and something that should have been done long ago. My personal attitude towards Instagram has changed a lot over the past few years. I’ve grown up (believe it or not) and I do not value my worth through who Likes my Instagram. I post what I want, when I want, as much as I want. Yet, when I was 16, a lot less confident and a lot more vulnerable, my attitude was completely different. A night out was a waste if I didn’t get a photo for the gram, and even If I did get a photo, was it really Insta worthy? Would it get good Likes? What if no one Likes it? What if it gets less Likes that my last photo? How come she got loads of Likes and I didn’t? I’d turn off my Instagram notifications after I uploaded so I’d never know if my post was getting Likes or not. And the most ridiculous of all, but I know you all did it too, I would have waited until “prime time” to post to make sure I’d get the best chance of Likes. Why was there RULES for posting a photograph on Instagram.

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So many unnecessary worries for a young teenage girl, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who felt that, wouldn’t we be lucky if that was all we had to worry about nowadays. So yeah, the removal of the Likes feature will be a definite step in the right direction, but it’s only the first step in making the platform a safe and happy place for users. Have Instagram forgot about the comments? If Instagram are really looking out for the safety and happiness of their users, this is the real danger. Even Cardi B and Kim Kardashian have called Instagram out on this saying much more needs to be done to protect its users, starting with the removal of the comment feature.

All this aside, we must think of the people who aren’t using Instagram for personal use. Canadian Influencer Kate Weiland is not one bit pleased about the new change as Likes are what tells her what her audience enjoy, and what they want to see from her. She looks at Likes as though it’s the audience clapping at the end of a performance. Without Likes, it’ll be an awkward silence.

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Influencers, artists and celebrities relay a lot on their Instagram performance for income. Influencers are freaking out about how the change will impact their income, if not their entire career. Thinking if brands can’t see the number of likes their racking up for a sponsored post, how will they know the impact they have on consumer behaviour? How will they impress brands and make them want to approach them for sponsorship? But brands have spoken out about the issue and have explained how to them, likes are only “surface” level and what they care most about is other metrics such as engagement, URL clickthroughs, swipe ups and all that influencery stuff, which is a lot more important than a Like on a photo that most people probably forget about after they scroll past it, or Like on reflex without even realising it.

The change will mean people will be more experimental with their content, something I’d love to see. Influencers and celebrities will engage more with their followers about real stuff,  not what they think will get the most likes. And us nobodies, we’ll post what we want to, without thinking what our followers will think of it. I give Instagram a round of applause for the first step in taking away with social media pressures we all face today.

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Catherine Maguire is a Final Year year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram: catherinelauram and LinkedIn: Catherine Maguire

Does Christmas Start too Early?

Does Christmas start too early?

 

We have this rule in my house, “Until we see the Coca-Cola advert or the Guinness one, then it is not Christmas!”. This has always been the way in my house; we never put our decorations up until the first week of December and don’t tend to get into the “Christmas spirit” until that time of the year. Every family has their own time for putting up their decorations or starting to watch Christmas movies or even talking about Christmas in general. Some families start on the 1st of November and some families don’t put their decorations up until the 20th of December; it simply depends on how you feel about Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although each family has their own time to start the festive period, organisations have their own ideas also. Many companies start to present their instore decorations on the 1st of November, start displaying Christmas decorations even before Halloween and offer Christmas packages for gifts etc. around the same time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas is a big time of year for every organisation there is, and it is also their busiest. They tend to promote Christmas as soon as they can but doe that really help with sales. Some people like to start their Christmas shopping early just to have it done to allow them to enjoy themselves over the Christmas period; where as others tend to wait until December as shopping for presents is part of the Christmas season. Over the past few years. organisations have tended to chance and put out their Christmas offers extra earlier and earlier. Does this have an impact on their sales or does this simply irritate the public because of how early they start the festive season? There’s a possibility it’s both.

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People may feel pressured into quickly picking up bargains and sales to help with their Christmas shopping which then helps the organisations sales incline. On the other hand, people wish to enjoy Christmas, they don’t want to be sick of it halfway through December. Families, including my own, start Christmas on December first. This is when we watch our Christmas movies, listen to music and want to start our Christmas shopping. Christmas is more than shopping and presents for most families; its about the time we spend with family and friends. It’s a time to celebrate and enjoy time together. The main thing for most families is the magic of Christmas because of young children still believing in Santa Claus. Organisations play on this using the most impactful Christmas advertisements. For example, Coca-Cola have used to same Christmas advert of the lorry driving through towns as people of all ages stand out to see it for over 10 years which shows how much of an impact it has had on the public. Choosing the right time to share any media content and what you will choose is very important for a company. This year alone we have already seen how Iceland have chosen to use the new Frozen movie. This is a very smart decision for this company as it will become noticed by children very quickly which will result in them trying to get the attention of their parents to also watch the advertisement in turn allowing them to look at not just the fact of Frozen but of what the company have to offer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas is not all about the gifts and the money you spend; Christmas is more about the time you spend with the ones you love around you. Many people care more abut what they are giving and receiving from others, rather than how much time they get to spend with family and friends. It is the time of year that brings everyone closer together and allows people who don’t normally spend time with family or friends to do so. Organisations have the opposite view on this and constantly promote their products as early as they can for the cash flow, which is their main object but could possibly create more family and festive centred advertisements rather than simply targeting popular characters or movies etc. to attract peoples attention. Everyone has their own idea of Christmas, but does it really have to start as early as before Halloween and not have the festive aspect included?

 

 Hollie Walls is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/hollie-walls-565716198/ and Instagram – @holliewallss

Colour coded baskets – Win Win for Sephora?

Have you ever walked into a store and immediately been bombarded by staff asking if they can help you? Without name dropping, a few certainly come to mind.

Research conducted by DisplayMode, a leading point-of-sale company, shows that 89% of shoppers are put off or bothered by in-store sales assistants.

Personally I despise nothing more than entering a store and being pounced on by employees within the first 3 seconds of being there. If anything, it makes me want to leave the store without purchasing anything.

While I understand that most staff across various stores are under pressure by management to assist customers, management don’t seem to understand how off-putting this can be from a customer perspective.

Sephora, seeing the issue, have upped their customer experience game and received widespread praise for their new colour coded basket system which is being trialled in certain European stores. Customers who wish to be assisted with their purchases can take a red basket, informing staff that they are open to help,  while customers who wish to be left alone can take a black basket, notifying staff that they would not like any assistance.

Twitter user Cami Williams (@cwillycs) photographed the display of baskets in a European Sephora store and tweeted, “There is a fellow introvert on the Sephora customer experience team who deserves A RAISE RIGHT NOW”.

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The tweet went viral with over 240,000 likes and 58,000 retweets. Other Twitter users commended Sephora for their forward thinking and even tagged a few prominent rival stores suggesting that they should implement this idea as they no longer visit their stores due to their “over-attentive” sales assistants.

However, other Twitter users were quick to point out that the colour coded basket strategy has already been adopted by Innisfree. The Korean skincare brand successfully rolled out the baskets in 2016 across some of its stores.

As a part-time customer assistant myself, it is painfully obvious when a customer is bothered by being approached by staff. So why continue to do it? Why not let the customer decide what sort of interaction they would like to have instore and therefore have a better experience? An enjoyable experience will result in the customer continuing to shop in a particular store, being hounded by staff will drive customers to other stores.

Upon first seeing Cami Williams’ tweet, I thought that the colour coded baskets were a genuinely customer focused strategy.

It wasn’t until I read a comment on the thread that I started to think more about how the colour coded baskets may benefit Sephora as well as their customers…

“And from a marketing standpoint, this puts a basket in the hands of people who may have only planned to window shop. A win for the customer and the store.”

Another Twitter user agreed, stating that the basket ‘changes the narrative from “no thanks, I’m just looking” to “I’m shopping on my own”’.

So, was Sephora really thinking about solo shoppers and introverts by introducing their colour coded baskets? Or was it a marketing plan to get someone who only popped in for one item to grab a basket, encouraging them to make more purchases? I know that if it was me, I would grab the black basket so as not to be interrupted by staff and end up unintentionally filling the basket with products that I had no want or need for when going to the store in the first place.

Either way, given the reaction to the baskets on Twitter, no matter what Sephora’s intentions may have been, someone is getting a raise…

 

Chantelle McKeever is a Final Year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter- @ChantelleMcKee5