This last official meeting in Berlin has both confirmed some of the conclusions drawn from other meetings and introduced new material to my research. I met with a professor from the Berlin School of Economics and Law, and we primarily focused our conversation on marketing. One of the key takeaways from our discussion was the fact that the United States and Europe are very different markets from a broad scope. Moreover, the two remain different as you narrow the scope to the professional women’s market. This has a direct effect on the marketing of any organization trying to penetrate the market and even more so, has an effect on how the organization defines its target market in respect to the products offered.
In Europe, the standards and expectations for women’s clothing in a professional setting has changed. While this change has been gradual over time, from the onset of the change until now, one can see a significant difference. Thirty years ago, it was expected that a professional, male or female, in almost any industry wear a suit to work. Now, in Europe and Berlin specifically, professional suits are no longer expected for most professions. Typically, only lawyers, accountants, and bankers wear classic professional clothing, and most of these professions are not even seen in Berlin, as the financial center of Germany is in Frankfort according to the contacts I have spoken with. Based on my conversation with the professor, it is not predicted that the country will ever return to the old stricter standards of professional clothing for women, and is likely due to the reason the change began, which the professor hypothesizes is the Internet. As the Internet became more popular, the rules started to relax. Since Germany remains conservative and resistant to change at its core, the change has indeed been gradual, but there has been consistent change as the Internet has grown its presence and influence in our daily lives.
There is no way to be sure of the future of the fashion industry, specifically the professional clothing market, but one can be sure that the Internet will remain to be a major influencing factor in the market. That being said, the Internet could inhibit success if not used properly, but at the same time, has the potential to contribute to an organization’s unique selling proposition if used properly and innovatively.