Czech Please!

June 4, 2010

It’s time to cash in our Crowns and start making our journeys back to the good ol’ U S of A. I have to say, this experience flew by, and it’s really sad to see it end. The good news is that I’ve learned a ton about European culture codes in a way I never have before, and I got a really good feel for different kinds of Advertising firms. It has given me a lot of clarity about where I can see myself in this industry in my career. Anyway, back to fashion tracking.

What I have learned:

Regardless of conditions, Czech people want to dress well with what they can afford. It is important to look your best, especially when spending time with other people outside of the home. The average annual income in the Czech Republic ranges from 12,000-15,00o USD. This obviously plays a factor in the priorities on what typical Czech people spend their money on. However, one important thing to note about Czech style is that because they have less money to allocate to fashion, they need to be more creative. Not only do Czech consumers look at a piece of clothing for what it is on its own, but it also needs to be able to go with a lot of other things the consumer already owns. Style is becoming more international as the years go on. In rural areas of the Czech Republic, there would be more of a separation from this trend, and people’s fashion in those areas would be based even more upon practicality.

Up until the revolution in 1989, purchasing abilities were limited. Services within the store were not very good, and sales people were not friendly at all. Sales people at that time viewed your interest as an annoyance. For example, they would be annoyed with having to put back something that you tried on. They also had no motivation sell things, because it wasn’t like they were working on commission; they were lazy. Being greeted first upon walking into that store was unheard of at that time. After the revolution, things like hypermarkets were able to come into existence. The shopping experience for the consumer became a much more pleasant experience. There was a new freedom of shopping that hadn’t existed before. Now, a family can spend half of the day at the hypermarket. If a pair of shoppers wants to spend three hours in one store trying on clothes, the sales person would not be bothered. In the past two years specifically, smaller stores are regaining popularity over hypermarkets and big malls. Shoppers like going to places that they can have a relationship with, like a local pub. If you compare goods in stores like Zara, the prices are almost double the cost from what it would be somewhere else; the Czech Republic has a large price index in comparison. For example, people view McDonalds as a symbol of freedom after the revolution in 1989; it is a pleasant place with nice people and clean toilets. In these cases, the Czech consumer pays a lot of money unreasonably, but because of the Czech culture codes, McDonalds markets to these consumers differently simply because Czechs use their services in a different way.

A little bit about the Czech people:

For Czechs optimism seems insincere. For example, the question “How are you?” could be asked as you walk into a friend’s house. In the States, you would say, “I’m good, you?” “Same here.”- this would seem as insincere to a Czech person. In the Czech Republic, your common response would be along the lines of, “Oh, I’m getting by.” or “Life is shit, but I am surviving.”

%90 of Czech people live outside of Prague. Average people shop in markets nearby. Supermarket brands satisfy needs very well.

Czech people want to show off what they have, but not verbally. Maybe they’ll let their nice watch show on their wrist in a way you’d notice, but they would never call you and brag about it. Boasting is done in a more visual way.

I’m really going to miss Prague, hopefully it won’t be too long before I’m back.

Until then,

Děkuji and Na shledanou !

~ Lisa

“History is the key to everything: politics, religion, even fashion.” -Eva Herzigova


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