Monday, 4 December 2017

The Meghan Effect

Move over Kate Middleton. There’s a new royal fashion icon on the block. Since the announcement of Prince Harry’s engagement to American actress, Meghan Markle, fans and royalists have become obsessed with the soon-to-be royal’s wardrobe. 

Prince Harry, who is currently fifth in line to the throne, will marry Meghan next spring, making her a duchess. Meghan and Harry had their first public engagement in Nottingham in Friday. The couple appeared to have coordinated their outfits wearing navy and sand, greeting well-wishers as they moved along the crowd. Meghan’s £455 Scottish-designed Strathberry tote sold out instantly.

The visit sought to raise awareness of HIV/Aids and efforts to tackle youth crime but it also presented the opportunity for Harry to show off his fiancé.  For the lucky brands that Markle was wearing it was the opportunity to become known as the royal brands of choice. Not to mention send their sales through the roof.

The Halo Effect of Meghan Markle.

Master of Marketing students at the University of Sydney’s Business School learnt about the effects of cognitive biases. In marketing, the term halo effect is used to explain customer bias toward certain products because of favourable experiences with other products made by the same company. In the case of Markle, brands can leverage her fame, beauty and the royal engagement to their advantage.

A specific type of confirmation bias, the halo effect has the ability to influence feelings and thoughts about that entity's character or properties. Previously, the term was originally coined when referring to people, however, its use has now been expanded to the area of brand marketing.

Pretty much anything Markle wears enters the domain of sell-out success. 

Founded four years ago by husband and wife team Guy and Leeanne Hundleby, Strathberry is based in Edinburgh. With no background in fashion, the Hundlebys quit their jobs to create Strathberry after realising Scotland was lacking a standout international, luxury leather goods brand. Mrs Hundleby worker in the financial sector and her husband ran a production company and now thanks to Markle, it looks as though their brand is on-track to become a worldwide sensation.

Earlier that week,  Markle announced her engagement to the prince wearing a Line belted coat, a P.A.R.O.S.H. green dress, Aquazzura heels and Birks 18-karat gold earrings. Line has worked with Meghan’s stylist Jessica Mulroney to help Markle with her style choices in recent years. The white $750 Line coat sold out within minutes. According to president and cofounder John Muscat, the style has also been renamed the “Meghan” in honour of the incoming royal. 

Image Source: Open News Windows. Sales increase for Line thanks to the Halo Effect of Meghan Markle.

Muscat was surprised by Meghan’s choice to wear the coat for the announcement. “I don’t know how you’re supposed to react to that. I was surprised that she chose to wear our coat for such an incredible announcement. I was really honoured and touched that she did that. She’s bringing a little bit of Canada with her to London,” Muscat said. “She particularly loves this coat. She has it in every colour so that makes a little sense. She wears it like a second skin.”

Following the aftermath of Monday’s announcement, Birks saw a 50 percent increase in website traffic by early Monday afternoon, said Birks brand chief marketing officer and vice president Eva Hartling. “We’ve also had a lot of inquiries from stores mentioning that clients either called or walked in asking to see the $780 18K gold Opal earrings from the ‘Les Plaisirs’ collection,” she said.

Image Source: The Daily Mail UK. Markle with Prince Harry on their first outing since the engagement announcement.

Megan Markle’s fashion choices are a boon for luxury brands wishing to be associated with the royal. And while many have noticed that she leans heavily towards Canadian brands, her taste is not exclusive. Markle is in a position to buttress designers and retailers whom she wishes to help. Whether it’s through her own exclusive fashion blog or by designing her own fashion lines for womenswear retailer Reitmans, Markle is leaving her mark on the fashion world.

Alyce Brierley
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School.

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