With the massive shift in consumer behaviour, the change in mentality, values and buying habits, heritage brands now must think out of the box.
Over the years brands have moved from just trusted identities recognized by visual cues to personalities with a set of emotions, new age values and perceptions.
Today’s brand identities need a consistent upgrade that makes sense online and offline. It’s even more desirable if certain values are built within the core of the brand.
Let us look at how businesses can develop good brands for the future.
Up to date information
In the past, fashion had always followed the traditional seasonal format. But now, there is a slight shift and room to be a little more flexible. Supporting this is a consciousness around consumption–an awareness that there are implications for our habits and behaviours as consumers.
Consumers have become smarter with access to technology and information being fed through many social platforms, it has become equally important for fashion brands to collect and analyze customer and market data to stay afloat and keep their fingers on the pulse of consumers.
Aware fashion brands now use data to understand customer preferences, monitor their shopping behaviours, and create products that meet their needs and values. We noticed these shifts at Fashion Foresight as we provide and rely on essential intelligence that is driven by Data for brands, market research, Industry reports and Trend Forecasts.
What we found is that the typical seasonal approach has gradually been replaced by data-centric factual insights and that the data on consumers and their behaviour is hardly off the mark, however always shifting by global moods and there are diverse types of consumers more so now than ever before!
That being said we notice that successful brands that rely on forecasting study everything! from climate change to colour preferences, social media trends, sentiments, intent and of course political movements.
Digitize ease of access
In this digital era, it’s not enough for brands to only have stores to attract customers; rather, technological solutions have proven to be much more fruitful and sometimes even more effective, hence the slow death or transformation of retail spaces.
Digital transformation with time is necessary for any brand however in the new age a strong trusted brand is not exclusively online or offline but a mix of both with a strong and continuous brand identity.
Take the example of Blackberry or blockbuster, the companies used to feel as permanent as the ground we walk on but are no longer in existence because they waited too long to change with technology and were overly confident in their hold on consumers. Technology swiftly knocked them off their feet and defined to consumers what they really wanted.
In the fashion industry, of course, E-commerce is the disruptive technology, making brands either reach further or making brands doubt their strategies and what they use to know in terms of selling and distribution.
Speaking digital interactions, mobiles and desktops are the main interactive touchpoints, brands must put in additional efforts to build user-friendly smartphone interfaces given the evolution and customer preference to use them constantly – more consumers use their mobiles to stay connected.
If your brand does not have a mobile solution that is a user-friendly experience in one’s hand, you may frustrate or annoy the consumer more than anything else.
What we noticed, when assisting in exploring modern concepts and accessing the right technology to bring innovation to life, is that the user journey becomes essential and being able to keep it simple while creating amazing experiences is almost a mark of a genius mobile app.
The current pandemic has brought changes to customers’ preferences and values. People now are highly aware and sensitive to social and environmental welfare and issues placing them in internal conflict when faced with good deals and promotions.
As a result, size and fit are not the only priorities and boxes to tick for brands. A research report by McKinsey shares how the recent lockdowns have encouraged fashion consumers’ priorities to change to a sustainable and conscious approach.
For example, fashion brands and retailers need to recognize that the treatment of workers across their entire supply chain and environmental footprint is now a vital part of a conscious consumer’s purchasing decisions when considering new product development or brand innovation.
Recycle and reuse must have a strong foundation at the core of any sustainable brand; so when existing brands suddenly adopt these ethics, terms like greenwashing come into focus among trending buzz words of the conscious consumer profile.
With increasing conscious consumers now looking to purchase previously worn items, fashion brands must create pieces with longevity that can last beyond a single owner or enter the second-hand market of preloved goods that are now estimated to be a multibillion-dollar industry itself.
Brands no longer should think of the primary consumer but who could potentially be the second or third owner of the same item.
This involves the movement of fashion brand principles to really consider and define slow fashion (designing, creating, and consuming garments for quality and longevity). Close to 50% of fast fashion retailers reported a recent decline in customer purchases as consumers seek brands that take a stand for the environment and whose items can last longer than a few washes.
Keep in mind that renting clothing for social media posts has become a movement and an alternate answer to fast fashion buys for influencers always curating new content and looks.
Incorporating green into technology
As mentioned earlier, for existing brands to last into the future, incorporating artificial intelligence solutions with a sustainable and conscious mindset is needed.
Virtual reality and augmented reality are also bringing an option of immersive retail experience to brands and changing the game in how we shop for products, something Fashion Foresight provides expertise in.
These technologies now allow consumers the opportunity to experience and interact with products immersively, even before the actual purchase. This innovation in what could be called ‘fashion and retail technology’ comes with the hope of bringing vast amounts of insight into consumer preferences, ultimately leading to less guesswork and waste in developing products.
AI in the fashion industry is not new along with concepts such as 3D Printing and digital knitting have been around for a while now. Exploring these technologies’ practices results in less waste, more innovation, and creativity and proves to be far less labour-intensive than conventional manufacturing.
Allowing the freedom to focus on a minimal waste approach with a more sustainable social, economic, and environmental emphasis.
People place a high level of trust in word of mouth and reviews more than other complimenting marketing sources, such as websites, promotions, and advertisements.
Likewise, people tend to trust ratings and feedback to gauge a product’s performance and relate to the brand’s value. Fashion brands of the future must ensure they provide the best quality products and services, that are rated and spoken about well on publicly available platforms.
Getting testimonials from recognized personalities or influencers in addition to well-known brand ambassadors can further help endorse the cause.
When assisting brands we noticed that this can be tricky, as not all influencers are the right fit, when consulting we noticed that brands manipulating public opinion, and numbers by buying followers and likes tended to get caught out sooner or later and that ultimately they damage their sources of data and reputation in the long run which ended up costing more later.
New consumer values
It’s imperative to build trust and transparency with consumers, as people value sticking with brands they know and trust. When we speak of new-age technology changing brands, its impact is also visible in consumer behaviours.
We noticed that these days consumers are spoilt for choice, have shorter attention spans, are easily bored and disengaged and potentially can suffer from more anxiety and self-consciousness, at the same time they are well informed and can take longer to make a decision or be easily dazzled by strong marketing campaigns.
Earlier, maintaining the physical market space was sufficient to run the business and hold value for the customer, not the case now.
Without equally focusing on online availability, brands risk losing their value rapidly, however online is more complex than any physical retail presence as we deal with more human emotions, understanding intentions and the fickle nature of consumers.
As mentioned, people have an emphasis on how businesses go about making their products, what footprint they leave on the environment, and what impact they have socially and economically all while dealing with their own human contradictions.
Brands of the future are highly aware of the humanness in consumers and that they are more complex and overly stimulated than ever before!
We believe understanding consumers’ values and behaviours along with using the right technology tools and solutions are vital for leveraging and positioning against competitors in future markets.
Your business can benefit from the detailed insights and exploring technology tools that work, feel comfortable contacting us.