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The Value of Fast Fashion: Quick Response, Enhanced Design, and Strategic Consumer Behavior

  • Gérard P. Cachon

    ()

    (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104)

  • Robert Swinney

    ()

    (Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305)

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    A fast fashion system combines quick response production capabilities with enhanced product design capabilities to both design "hot" products that capture the latest consumer trends and exploit minimal production lead times to match supply with uncertain demand. We develop a model of such a system and compare its performance to three alternative systems: quick-response-only systems, enhanced-design-only systems, and traditional systems (which lack both enhanced design and quick response capabilities). In particular, we focus on the impact of each of the four systems on "strategic" or forward-looking consumer purchasing behavior, i.e., the intentional delay in purchasing an item at the full price to obtain it during an end-of-season clearance. We find that enhanced design helps to mitigate strategic behavior by offering consumers a product they value more, making them less willing to risk waiting for a clearance sale and possibly experiencing a stockout. Quick response mitigates strategic behavior through a different mechanism: by better matching supply to demand, it reduces the chance of a clearance sale. Most importantly, we find that although it is possible for quick response and enhanced design to be either complements or substitutes, the complementarity effect tends to dominate. Hence, when both quick response and enhanced design are combined in a fast fashion system, the firm typically enjoys a greater incremental increase in profit than the sum of the increases resulting from employing either system in isolation. Furthermore, complementarity is strongest when customers are very strategic. We conclude that fast fashion systems can be of significant value, particularly when consumers exhibit strategic behavior. This paper was accepted by Yossi Aviv, operations management.

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1100.1303
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    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

    Volume (Year): 57 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 4 (April)
    Pages: 778-795

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:57:y:2011:i:4:p:778-795
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    1. Gérard P. Cachon & Robert Swinney, 2009. "Purchasing, Pricing, and Quick Response in the Presence of Strategic Consumers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 55(3), pages 497-511, March.
    2. Hau L. Lee & Christopher S. Tang, 1997. "Modelling the Costs and Benefits of Delayed Product Differentiation," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 43(1), pages 40-53, January.
    3. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1990. "The Economics of Modern Manufacturing: Technology, Strategy, and Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 511-28, June.
    4. Manu Goyal & Serguei Netessine, 2007. "Strategic Technology Choice and Capacity Investment Under Demand Uncertainty," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 53(2), pages 192-207, February.
    5. Rui Yin & Yossi Aviv & Amit Pazgal & Christopher S. Tang, 2009. "Optimal Markdown Pricing: Implications of Inventory Display Formats in the Presence of Strategic Customers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 55(8), pages 1391-1408, August.
    6. Qian Liu & Garrett J. van Ryzin, 2008. "Strategic Capacity Rationing to Induce Early Purchases," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 54(6), pages 1115-1131, June.
    7. Xuanming Su & Fuqiang Zhang, 2008. "Strategic Customer Behavior, Commitment, and Supply Chain Performance," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 54(10), pages 1759-1773, October.
    8. Ananth. V. Iyer & Mark E. Bergen, 1997. "Quick Response in Manufacturer-Retailer Channels," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 43(4), pages 559-570, April.
    9. Nancy L. Stokey, 1981. "Rational Expectations and Durable Goods Pricing," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(1), pages 112-128, Spring.
    10. Felipe Caro & Victor Martínez-de-Albéniz, 2010. "The Impact of Quick Response in Inventory-Based Competition," Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, INFORMS, vol. 12(3), pages 409-429, January.
    11. Krishnan S. Anand & Karan Girotra, 2007. "The Strategic Perils of Delayed Differentiation," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 53(5), pages 697-712, May.
    12. Bulow, Jeremy I, 1982. "Durable-Goods Monopolists," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(2), pages 314-32, April.
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