Industry talk currently centers around brands moving from a fashion dictatorship model (they tell us what to wear, when) to a retail democracy (we, the customer, have a voice that is heard and included in the design and production process). In the past, brands sold white jeans in the summer, so customers wore white jeans in the summer, and that was that. But now, some customers want to wear white jeans all year long, and brands are encouraged to listen and respond accordingly, perhaps by offering white jeans all year long.
At the end of the day, it’s really all about the product.
Brands have tightened their product development calendars, working to assign responsibility and ownership to streamline this process as much as possible. Often, complete product development cycles are 12 months or longer. This rigidity and long lead time isn’t friendly to change and doesn’t allow brands to react to customers’ changing preferences and requests. But everyone knows that this traditional model needs revision. Retail as an industry is dynamic, emotional, and exciting. This nature stems from the art and creativity of the many brands in the industry. However, in the next 5 years, we will see a shift to include the customer’s informed perspective in tandem with each brand’s creative DNA. This shift will force brands to adjust products, speed, and systems to meet the increasingly demanding nature of today’s consumers.
At the end of the day, it’s really all about the product. Consumer brands, whether home, lifestyle, apparel, or footwear, bring emotionally charged products to people who love them. Marketing is only a small part of the equation. It starts with the basics — the right product at the right time, in the right place at the right price. Timely learnings from customers about what they love can give brands confidence to move forward in a bold and personalized manner. Faster, more customer-oriented creation is the goal.
We need solutions that protect a brand’s identity, while engaging with the customer and inspiring their consumption needs.
There are lots of threats out there – Amazon, Zara, young brands with spectacular customer loyalty, and more. We need solutions that protect a brand’s identity, while engaging with the customer and inspiring their consumption needs. It’s a balance of listening and leading. The right data can give you confidence in your inventory and fabric bets and drive customer loyalty through engagement, every step of the way. Products designed to fill your customers’ needs, combined with an agile supply chain, can transform your brand from yesterday’s fashion dictator into the leader of a robust fashion democracy.