A case of Corporate Fashions Inc

Corporate Fashions Inc. was a national franchiser of specialty retail shops that sold wear-to-the office clothing to career oriented professional working women. The company was looking into the possibility of opening a store in the Forest View shopping Center in a suburb of Chicago.

The Corporate Fashions product line consisted of skirts, blouses, sweaters, blazers, suits, and shoes offered in a variety of colors and styles. To differentiate its line from competitors’, Corporate Fashions featured the clothes of well known designers such as Liz Claiborne.

Corporate Fashions stressed above average store service, and this was reflected in their well trained, knowledgeable sales staff and their practice of offering early morning and late evening shopping by appointment. A full time seamstress was available for free-of-charge alterations. Major credit cards were accepted, and the company offered its own credit plan.

Both newspaper advertisements and direct mail campaigns were used to promote Corporate Fashions stores to their target market. Promotion within the stores consisted of personal selling by well trained, knowledgeable sales personnel, attractive displays of the store’s products, and an emphasis on the store’s service.

The company used a prestigious pricing policy because management felt it was in keeping with its high product quality, its target market, and the substantial customer services it offered. Price promotions were not used, but end of the season sales were held if inventories were larger than desired.

Corporate Fashions located its stores in those major metropolitan areas believed to contain the highest numbers of professional career women. The stores were typically placed in large shopping centers surrounded by the residential areas in which the targeted women were believed to reside. Only shopping centers with a large number of stores of the type that attracted professional career women were considered candidate sites for a Corporate Fashions store.

The Forest View Shopping Center was being considered as a possible site for a Corporate Fashions store because of the number and quality of stores in the center. Figures provided by the shopping center manager indicated that the shopping center’s traffic and sales volume more than likely could support a corporate Fashions store. Te main concern among Corporate Fashions’ management was whether an adequate proportional of the women shoppers at Forest View were the types of professional career women that Corporate Fashions was trying to attract to its stores.

Because the shopping center was unable to provide detailed information about professional career women shoppers, Corporate Fashions’ management decided to undertake a survey to obtain the desired information. Corporate Fashions’ managers felt that one of their stores would be successful in the Forest View Shopping Center if at least 10 percent of the shopping center’s female shoppers were members of their target market. Such female shoppers would fit the following descriptions:

1. Employed full time
2. 25-45 years of age
3. Earns $30,000 or more annually
4. Regularly shops at Forest View
5. Buys clothing of the type sold by Corporate Fashions
6. Spends at least $600 per year on such clothing
7. Spends at least $200 per year in specialty stores
8. Buys from specialty stores that are not price oriented

Corporate Fashions’ managers wanted an accurate estimate of the proportional of forest View’s female shoppers who were professional career women.

The shopping center manager provided Corporate Fashions with map showing the communities that represented Forest View’ market area. Research has showed that approximately 96 percent of all Forest View female shoppers resided in 15 communities (e.g. Elmhurst, Hindsdale, Villa Park, Western Springs and others) that were identified on the map.

One sampling approach would be to obtain the telephone directories of al of the 15 communities within the forest View market area, and then select a probability sample of names and telephone numbers from each community. These names and numbers could be used to undertake a telephone survey designed to identify women who shopped at Forest View and whether or not they were also professional career women.

A second sampling approach would be to use the map to identify the ZIP code areas comprising the 15 communities in Forest View’s market area. Corporate Fashions could then go to one of the large commercial research service companies, such as Donnelley and purchase a random sample of names, address and telephone numbers selected from all of the households in the identified ZIP code areas. This random list could be used in the design of an in-home personal interview study a telephone survey or even a mail survey.

A third possibility would be to use 1980 Censes of Housing data covering the census tracts comprising Forest View’s market area. Using area sampling methods, a in-home personal interview study could be designed by randomly selecting a certain number of blocks in each community, then randomly selecting certain dwelling units in each of the selected blocks. Women in the selected dwelling units could be interviewed to determine their shopping center preferences and career interests, if any.

The detailed study enabled Corporate Fashions to launch their new (one more) retail outlet forming part of their expansion strategy through franchising as a national franchiser of specialty retail shops that sold wear-to-the office clothing to career oriented professional working women.