Designer Decisions - What customers look for in a new brand.
Posted on July 11 2014
We live in an age where you can shop where you want for exactly what you want, at any time and for the brands that you love. Sounds great, and we all have a designer or brand that we favour, but what about all of the new and exciting design talents breaking through each year? Where do you find them if you don’t even know their name? How can you discover a new designer that creates products perfect for you when they are just another website waiting to be discovered?
It’s never been easier to be ‘discovered’ with the presence of so many social media platforms but it’s also true to say it’s never been harder when you are lost in a sea of thousands of equally talented and energised contemporaries. So when customers are looking for a new brand to shop with or a new designer to purchase something different and original from, here are the key points that we’ve discovered many customers look for when investing in a new brand:
Personality - Today’s key customers like to know that the emerging brand or designer they are investing in has a personality and has taken an active role on social media to either chat with customers, entice with discounts and sales or create a destination that you want to keep visiting (Instagram being a great hook for the ubiquitous ‘arty’ images).
Wearability - Customers are looking for items that are eye-catching, well-made and of a good quality but, most importantly, they have to be wearable. We’ve all purchased the wool sweater that was just a smidge too itchy or the nylon dress that looked great on the hanger but had your skin crying out for breath! Likewise, your average shopper wants to stand out when they wear an item but for the right reasons; because what they purchased from you looks awesome.
Ethics - In the age of fast fashion versus the social conscience, many customers look to your mission statement, your product sourcing and your ethics. They want to know that you care about the welfare of others and don’t value profit over people. It’s a tricky one as most of us aim to buy ethically where possible, only to be enticed by an unbelievably cheap deal from one retailer or another which feels like the bargain of the century. The old adage ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ is often the case with fast fashion and, for many the disposability suits them just fine. Value for money when purchasing from an emerging designer should be reflected in the attention to detail, the quality of the fabrics, stitching and design plus the man-hours taken to create the piece. In this case we urge you to shout this from the rooftops, celebrate your company and promote why an investment in your product is an affordable luxury.
Affordability - This leads us neatly into what affordability really means to the consumer. Of course the price point of your pieces will be in relation to your target market plus the costs of creating, making, marketing and fulfilling. The biggest purchasing block that is often quoted back to sellers in focus groups and feedback forums is pricing. There will always be those who see the value in the item and accept the price without question (just think about the wedding dress industry and the price that you would expect to pay for the dress of your dreams) yet, no doubt frustrating to the emerging designer, there will be a large market that aren’t willing to pay what they consider to be too much for your piece when they can buy several fast fashion pieces for one of yours. One way of processing this fact is to accept that this is not your target customer and simply focus on those who are. Or you could strategise in the vein of the savvy selling of the big players by creating your own introductory pieces at an adjusted price which allows the customer to try your brand and effectively ‘buy’ into you. A great comment shared with us was a blogger’s answer to an emerging designer who felt that luxury shouldn’t be affordable. The response? ‘A bar of chocolate is an affordable luxury’. She was right, don’t ever presume that only the elite can afford luxury items or you could stall sales before you really make your mark.
Availability - If you ask any emerging designer where they’d like to see their products for sale then you can expect to hear a variety of high end department stores, exclusive boutiques and the obligatory flagship store. With a lot of hard work, determination and a few lucky breaks this can be an achievable dream but you shouldn’t immediately rule out the high street and deem a lower price point for anything related to your brand to be a resolute no. Just think of some of the heritage brands that everyone can name (whether they are customers or not) such as Burberry and Chanel. Yes, you can spend £2,000 on a few purchases in one of their stores or an exclusive department store such as Harvey Nichols or Selfridges, but you can also pop into a high street chemist such as Boots or Superdrug and purchase one of their perfumes from upwards of £15! They seek out an entry point for every consumer and although a new designer may not be interested in diversifying into other areas of the industry, it is a valid question to ask yourself; do I want to welcome all customers demographics to buy into my brand or am I solely targeting a key niche with specific spending habits.
We’ve only scratched the surface of what customers look for when they’re choosing an emerging designer to invest their payday purchases in and it’s worth remembering this. All the consumer research in the world can't forecast the best part of being a creative talent; without you the fashion world would be a heck of a dull place. Keep creating and we’ll keep supporting.
Be your own story.