Buying and Merchandising/PR and Marketing - similarities and overlaps?

Discussion in 'Careers, Education & the Business of Fashion' started by pomegranates, May 8, 2010.

  1. pomegranates

    pomegranates New Member

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    Hello all,
    I'm just nearing a degree in fashion design, but after 3 years of insight into this sector of the business and various work experiences in different parts of the industry, I've found I would rather pursue a career in the more business related departments of fashion.

    My dilemma now is whether to focus on Buying and Merchandising or PR and Marketing.

    While looking and applying for internships, I've found that some roles have similarities, especially in small businesses.
    So would it be possible to start in one sector and move into another?
    Or would this looks unfocused to a prospective employer?
    My c.v. is already mostly design/creative, so I'm worried employers will think I'm dabbling in all areas but not having a motivation for one.

    Also, I'm thinking of supplementing my experience with a short course in Buying and Merchandising or Marketing at LCF. Any experiences, views on these courses?

    Mods, I couldn't find a relevant thread, but please move if there is! sorry/thanks! :flower:
     
  2. Desi

    Desi Once King

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    i actually share the same interest when it comes to the business portion of the industry. Currently I am in school studying history and want to change my major over so I can follow a career as a retail fashion buyer but I do not even know what degree to chase after. If I do not go to school for that I can still become one by promotion in my company.
     
  3. BetteT

    BetteT Mod Squad Team Leader

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    The skills needed for each is very different so I'd go with what you are best in.

    Buying and Merchandising is mostly about numbers, math, graphs & charts .... and profit and loss for the company. It's retail sales ... at the top levels.

    PR is about writing press releases, organizing events, creating a public personna for your client, protecting your client's reputation... so you have to be a creative writer, work well under super pressure, be able to organize and work in a team, like small talk with people. Marketing doesn't deal with the press or the public as much, but it is creative work often requiring writing skills and sometimes artistic skills.

    The main difference to me is the first are left brain activities (math, science) and the last two are right brain activities (writing, art, music). So, the question is ... are you basically left or right brained?
     
  4. pomegranates

    pomegranates New Member

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    thanks BetteT, really helpful post..

    I guess the problem is I'm not sure whether I'm left or right brained!

    I've got interviews coming up for pr/marketing/admin internships, although I would really like to try a buying position, I can't seem to find any placements in that field.

    So do you think it is hard to change from one field to the other? I do realise the skills needed are different, but I thought if you had a strong background and understanding of fashion business, it may be a possibility? Because isn't one of the most important skills for both jobs, is knowing your target clientele?

    Also, I'm planning to do a summer or part time evening course in either marketing or a buying related subject (business management? economics?)... which do you think I would get more out of? I'm leaning towards a buying/business course, as I think I would learn more solid skills rather than marketing - I always feel 'creative' courses don't actually teach you much.
     
  5. BetteT

    BetteT Mod Squad Team Leader

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    I have no idea if it's easy to switch ... probably about the same as switching from any other profession, which is not easy. It's an accumulation of eductaion and experience that gets' you any job. So, to switch after you were actually working in one particular feild, you'd probably have to start a the bottom entry lever job again ... start anew.

    Yes ... some of it's similar background in that you need a basic working knowledge about how the industry works as a whole. But it's really different specific knowledge that you need, I would still say.



    A buyer and a merchandiser are immersed in numbers, resources, stocking, pricepoints, shipping, turnaround time, statistical trends, what sells, what doesn't. It's all based on past performance and trying to determine what will make a profit for the retail company. I would say that a buyer has to have a good eye for fashion and study trends, but they don't get to "buy" what they like, they must buy what will sell in their market. So, yes they would need to know their target clientelle.

    A publicist doesn't need to know anything about any of those things, at all other than who the target consumer is, so they know where to place the publicity. But they would be instructed by the company/marketing head. What they need is: to know people at magazines, the movers and shakers, the "in" people and their publicists ... they have to stay on top of popular culture and get the company's name and product out there in the public eye ... on TV, on radio, the web, on the backs of celebs. It's all about communications and networking. They don't answer to anyone about profit and loss for the company (at least they shouldn't). They just have to guranatee a certain amount of press coverage and publicity. The company usually directs them as the what types of magazines and events would suit them.

    Of all of these, I am thinking that Marketing problaby covers both sides the best. And it's the Marketing dept. that would normally decide who their target consumer is. They are more about the "image" of a company ... the logo, the look of the advertising campaigns, the look of the stores. They don't do publicity unless it's a very small company (they often oversee it, however) ... it's more about bending the product and it's image to suit that customer that they decide to target. They must have an artistic eye to direct the creative staff/contract hires effectively ... but it's numbers based too, so it needs stong math and business skills as well.

    So, I'd say that if you are pretty much in the middle ...as far as being right and/or left brained ... Marketing might be something to consider, since it seems to incorporate skills from both.

    Regarding which course .... I know that when I took a marketing course (not fashion, just plain everyday marketing) we did very little "creative" stuff. We had to discover a need, and create a product to fill that need, then design a marketing plan around that ... using numbers to support our choices and decisions and to cite resources that we could use to get it done. Not sure if the marketing course you are looking at would be like that ... but if it is ... there's a lot to learn.
     
    #5 BetteT, May 9, 2010
    Last edited by moderator Natasa: May 9, 2010
  6. pomegranates

    pomegranates New Member

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    Ahh thanks BetteT

    well, I've gone for a marketing/pr internship... hopefully I will learn more about what I'm into and better at through the position... excitement! :blush:
     

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