“The culture of projection has overturned the laws of distribution and consumption.” – Liberation

We’re in 2018. At the end of the concert, Beyoncé and Jay-Z announce, on a giant screen, the immediate release of a joint album. Social networks are going crazy. In the same year, one of the Crocs models at a price of 680 euros, which was revisited by the luxury brand Balenciaga, ran out even before its release date, thanks to pre-orders, on the site of the New York brand Barney’s. In France, a promotion for Nutella (1.41 euros per 950g jar, instead of the usual 4.70 euros) sparked riots in several Intermarché stores. If these events seem independent of each other, they are all examples of the same phenomenon: the “dropping of culture.” This marketing technique consists of selling or offering a product, generally in limited quantities, without promoting it (on the Internet or at specific points of sale) in order to arouse consumer interest. It is enough to create a sense of urgency or even fear of missing out on a good deal, thanks to an organized lack. This type of no-notice marketing also allows advertisers to charge for engagement (and publicity) at little cost. This practice aroused so much excitement that the year 2016 was designated by The New York Times as such The year of decline. Six years later, the trend has not weakened.

“Diplining has become a mainstream practice. Tesla sells a car by falling. Lidl is a former expert in practice on non-food products,” Frederic Moss, general manager of WSN development, is excited. The company that has organized fashion fairs for thirty-five years – notably Who’s Next and Première Classe (focusing on accessories) – will be taking place from 23-25 ​​June at the temporary Grand Palais, in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, the first festival dedicated to the abandonment of culture in France. Organizers want to gather 15,000 visitors over three days. The DRP Festival targets an audience between the ages of 15 and 40, interested in fashion, gaming, basketball, skateboarding and the metaverse. “For us, it was important that this event take place during Fashion Week, which everyone hears about, but concretely, no one has access to, except through the influencer TikTok. With this event, we want to show that fashion should be able to expressing itself everywhere,” Explains Frederic Mauss, who has worked in the sector for several decades. and open: “The culture of projection has upset all the laws of distribution and consumption. It is one of the milestones in fashion in recent years. In Paris, the fashion capital, we had to hold an event that copied this transformation. He believes that the long-awaited mixtape with amazing features, a collaboration between a popular sports brand and a video game franchise, a reissue of a pair of sneakers in a new color, or even a fast food menu that the rapper thinks of, are all elements of the projection culture that permeates everyday life. for younger generations.

“Create enthusiasm around their innovations”

According to WSN Event Director and Experience and DRP Festival Organizer, Boris Fay, the origins of projection culture – in the form we know it today – go back to the 1980s: The movement started in Japan, where young brands started releasing these limited editions, to create excitement around their creation. This country has always been at the forefront when it comes to sales techniques, presentations, and distribution.” Then comes the sneaker culture in the US with the release in 1985 of the Air Jordan, a basketball shoe named after Michael Jordan.

Since its launch in 1985, AJ, widely recognized as a pillar of sneaker culture, has changed laws and the sneaker industry. Collectors pick up on its various forms. The period model sometimes sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars on resale sites. Limited releases of the series led to attacks and scenes of violence in American capitals. Jordan Brand sales exceeded $5 billion last year (4.75 billion euros).

During the 1990s Supreme, the spearhead of New York skate culture, became the undisputed master of drop strategy. The brand was acquired in 2020 for about $2.1 billion by US textile group VF Corporation (which also owns Vans and Timberland). Today, heavyweights such as Louis Vuitton, Adidas or Gucci are repeating this retail technology that pushes the boundaries of the fashion industry. and for generation Z, “Cop or Drop” (“buy or drop” in English) has become a style of consumption that sounds like dogma.

time pressure strategy

“This regulation of rarity or exclusivity has led to the popularization of collaboration between brands, creating more and more desire,” Friedrich Moss concludes. A desire that created a surprising effect. For example, reselling full-price sneaker models is a system that has created crafts because it generates income. “Some” sellers “own more than a thousand pairs of shoes, and their goods are sometimes estimated at more than a million euros, Boris Vey . details. Then they resell their hundreds of duplicates and find themselves running a business when that was initially a passion.

As they become more professional, sellers are quick to pay people to queue up for rare models – when it comes to digital projection, they sometimes use bots to make sure they get their items. But if it creates jobs, it also generates a market for sneakers that is not constantly available, as sellers organize themselves to pick up coveted items and set prices to rise. Frustrated at not being able to get their hands on authentic sneakers, more and more consumers no longer hesitate to voluntarily fall back on affordable fakes. To respond to the threat posed by counterfeit products, sneaker reselling platforms — which operate in the stock exchange system — such as StockX, Kikikickz, Klekt, or even eBay subject sneakers to a range of checks in order to prove their authenticity and reassure enthusiasts and collectors.

For Frédéric Maus, drop technology will provide a solution to the problem of managing stocks and unsold items. “The drop and pre-order method are new consumption models that will help us transform the models that have destroyed the planet and continue to damage the planet, by promoting zero inventory. Products sold in limited quantities prevent brands from hoarding inventory that contributes to environmental waste.”

“The decline depends on the time pressure strategy, Sandrine Hitz Spahn, lecturer in management sciences at the University of Lorraine. Overwhelmed by a sense of urgency, the customer buys a product without needing it. This is how we create excessive consumption.” This concern is heightened when we consider the phenomenon in terms of environmental emergencies and global warming: With 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gases emitted annually – the fashion industry accounts for about 2% of global emissions. By 2050, if buying trends continue, the sector is expected to grow to 26% of greenhouse gas emissions, according to Greenpeace estimates. This is in particular due to the explosion of “fast fashion” sales.

“In the beginning, scarcity is related to the world of luxury.”

“The problem with drops as they have been practiced for a few years is that they are constantly creating a novelty. There is a contradiction in claiming environmental virtues by making several capsule collections a year. It is a green wash.” Regrets Marie Nguyen, a former engineer who specializes in biology and has been redirected to ethical fashion with the multi-brand platform We Dress Fair she co-founded. To combat the misleadingly described environmental argument, the digital interface has (since 2018) supported ethical brands like Loom, Knowledge Cotton Apparel or even Brava Fabrics… eco-friendly pre-order setup. “They analyze their customers, assess their needs and produce the necessary quantities through a pre-sale system. There is real control over production in order to avoid creating excess stocks and having to sell them (on promotion) or destroy them. That is why 50% of the products we offer are Permanent collections. For dresses and other seasonal fashion, our brands produce a limited number of non-renewable pieces. A good drop should not be accompanied by a desire to sell more and more clothes, but to extend their life “, Marie Nguyen explains.

Consumer specialist Sandrine Hitz Spahn considers this regulated scarcity deceptive: In the beginning, rarity is associated with the world of luxury that uses precious or rare materials to produce clothes. And when we talk about mass marketing of everyday goods, we are not talking about luxury. Fifteen years ago, H&M was already making capsule sets with Karl Lagerfeld or David Beckham intended for the general public, with products that weren’t necessarily expensive or difficult to manufacture. And if scarcity spurs desire, co-branding, still rare in the 2000s, doubles as hot cakes and can end up overwhelming a consumer who demands too much. “Marketing is supposed to inform the consumer of the existence of an offer. In order for him to be able to recognize the offer, he must distinguish it from others. Collaboration between two brands is supposed to return value to each of them. However, when this particular process becomes the norm, the Marks risk losing their distinctive character at the risk of becoming interchangeable.”

“When I see a certain collaboration, I tell myself we pull the rope a little bit, Boris Faye abounds. After saturation, I think we will return to the need for exclusivity that will be expressed through creation.” The drop will undoubtedly be an acclaimed marketing technique to underscore the rarity of this next creative original…

DRP 2022, 23, 24 and 25 June at the Grand Palais Ephémère, 2 Allée Adrienne Lecouvreur, 75007 Paris. Information: https://www.drp-paris.com

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