What’s the Difference Between Fashion Merchandising and Fashion Marketing?

If you’re researching careers in fashion, you’ve probably come across the terms fashion merchandising and fashion marketing. At first glance, you might not know what the difference is; there’s some serious overlap between these two subdivisions of the fashion industry. Both require skills like trend analysis, advertising, and a strong sense of style. But there are some differences, too, and it’ll be helpful to understand each career individually while you’re deciding what fashion career to pursue.

Fashion Marketing

Fashion marketers advertise brands and products to potential customers. It’s a very quick-moving industry; because different styles become popular from season to season and year to year, new advertising campaigns and marketing strategies need to be created and implemented regularly. Lots of this advertising takes place over social media; people working in fashion marketing are in charge of ensuring that the brand’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. feeds are filled with content that engage customers and support the brand. That’s the goal behind, for example, a brand’s Father’s Day post that wishes all the dads out there a Happy Father’s Day and features reposted pictures of dads and their kids wearing the company’s product. Because fashion marketing includes brand development, any effort to rebrand a company or product is also the job of fashion marketers. Any time a new color scheme, font, or general aesthetic is introduced to a brand, it’s because fashion marketers have done market analysis that determined that these changes would help the brand be more successful.

Some job titles you might see that relate to fashion marketing are as follows:

  • Consumer behavior specialist
  • Social media manager
  • PR director
  • Brand manager

Fashion Merchandising

Fashion merchandisers buy products from third party vendors and market them to customers. They select pieces for retail that, based on current fashion trends, customers will be interested in buying, and price them in a way that will both let the company make money and appeal to the company’s target market. For instance, if Target bought swimsuits from a third party vendor and priced them at $100 each, Target shoppers wouldn’t buy them; the demographic that shops for clothing at Target is interested in fashionable and affordable  products. That’s why you’ll see swimsuits at Target priced closer to $30 or $40. Fashion merchandisers have to know whether or not a product will sell, who will buy the product, and how much of a product to stock in retail stores. They’re sometimes in charge of designing stores or displays in a way that will appeal most to customers and highlight products predicted to be the most successful.

Some job titles you might see that relate to fashion merchandising are as follows:

  • Store manager
  • Retail buyer
  • Merchandise consultant
  • Visual display manager
  • Sales strategist

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