It’s no surprise that consumers have changed in the last two years. As global fashion retailers adjust to the ‘new normal’, brands need to do more than return to their pre-pandemic strategies.
We’re seeing fashion retailers aiming for some very ambitious goals. In recent months, COP26 is an example of how we’re seeing new contributions brought to the table. With these incentives in mind, and the right attitude, they have the opportunity to capture what’s really important to consumers now.
Fashion and jewelry brands are fab at making sure they’re staying on top of the latest trends – but can they stay on top of consumer needs too?
Get real about representation
In recent years we’ve seen fashion brands representing a wider range of body types, cultural backgrounds and genders. We love to see brands like Victoria’s Secret joining the conversation, but diversity and inclusivity in the fashion industry still has a long way to go.
Diversity is crucial for a brand’s survival but representation doesn’t mean simply ticking the diversity box and moving on – it’s an opportunity for brands to connect with a wider and more loyal audience.
Only 23% of global fashion and jewelry buyers feel that they are represented in the ads that they see, and in North America that number differs between gender, race, ethnicity and sexual identities.
In the US, representation is particularly important among the younger generation, and as this next wave of consumers has enormous spending power, brands need to encompass ideals that support Gen Z.
These consumers want brands to represent them better and it’s all about feedback.
The most important thing for these consumers is for brands to listen to them. Developing processes that offer greater involvement of consumer voices is crucial, and leveraging feedback, especially from those who represent the minority, should be a top priority for brands.
Don’t resell, repurpose.
Overconsumption plagues the fashion industry. In one way, the resale market helped to solve this problem, but while consumers look to clean out their closets, the re-commerce market has encouraged a side-hustle economy of individuals eager to spend their money on new items.
As brands continue to explore the resale market, rather than encouraging consumers to resell their old items, consumers should be inspired to keep them – but with a repurposed twist.
Fashion brands have a responsibility to help consumers take better care of their purchases.
Finding new value gives brands an opportunity to offer ways to revive items that would usually be left unworn and forgotten.
In a joint custom study with Avery Dennison and GWI, over half of consumers in Europe are not only interested in repairing fashion items, but they believe that brands hold the responsibility to help consumers repair them too.
For the luxury market, altering formerly loved items of clothing and jewelry not only offers consumers an opportunity to repurpose, it also encourages brands to create items that have a life beyond their original design. This means brands can focus on materials that are made to last, retaining value, and reinforcing a luxury brand’s reliability, quality and craftsmanship that these consumers regard so highly.
Engage with the new digital age
As consumers continue purchasing items online, brands can look to creating new digital experiences. The emergence of the metaverse, NFTs and AR/VR creates an exciting opportunity for fashion brands and new tech to merge.
Fashion and jewelry buyers are more likely to engage in social opportunities, but they’re also equally interested in tech.
These consumers are 28% more likely to feel confident using new technology and they’re also eager to purchase new tech when it becomes available on the market. This interest creates an opportunity for fashion brands to explore ways to engage their consumers through new technology, and one way they can do this is with one of the most important industry events of the year, fashion week.
This year, the fashion industry will see its first ever Metaverse Fashion Week. A digitally connected landscape brings together a host of opportunities for brands to connect with their consumers, but even with fashion and jewelry buyers keen to participate in the metaverse, they’re missing a vital element – crypto.
Most of these consumers don’t currently use cryptocurrency. Even with an interest to do so, without a digital wallet, engaging in this new online space will prove difficult as many items are only available to buy with cryptocurrency.
Equally important for digital developments is the use of blockchain. Fashion and blockchain offers opportunities for brands to create a digital identity of their supply chain, and it has the potential to unlock deeper levels of transparency and connection with consumers.
But, as the technology is fairly new, there’s currently only a small percentage of fashion brands that are using it. Even with fashion industry workers 36% more likely to want to use blockchain, brands will need to build consumers’ awareness on how it can be beneficial to them.
Digital innovations have the potential to disrupt ecommerce, but whether consumers are looking to buy digital outfits or one of those controversial MetaBirkins, we’ll need to see an increase in fashion and jewelry buyers, and their favorite brands, participating in new technologies and digital currency before life in Web3 takes off.
Go beyond green
As the fashion industry continues to talk about sustainability, consumers are interested in purchasing sustainable products, and with 67% of fashion and jewelry buyers saying they would rather pay more for an eco-friendly product, their reasons to purchase vary from a wide range of eco-friendly conscious choices. And brands need to make sure they are top of the pack in making sustainable choices easy for their consumers.
One area where brands can think more sustainably is by reconsidering their sourced materials. In the US, 42% of apparel buyers want brands to be transparent about how products are made. By reshaping what natural or organic can mean with unlikely resources, brands have an opportunity to engage these sustainable seeking consumers into a world of new materials.
These innovations have caught the eye of many big name high-street retailers, the likes of H&M and Zara are using a variety of conscious new materials from vegan leather made from pineapple leaves to sustainably sourced cellulosic fibers.
Material swaps are a small change that can make a big difference for people and the planet, and revisions like these are a step in the right direction, but brands can do so much more.
Sustainable solutions need to be a part of the entire product line and include other important elements such as carbon-neutral shipping and reusability. Sustainability should no longer be considered separate. It needs to be a benchmark from which brands can build upon a conscious foundation.
Above all, brands need to be open to something new.
Fashion and jewelry buyers are confident, creative, open-minded consumers, and industry leads need to look beyond the surface of where they were two years ago. A return to pre-pandemic normalcy is not an option.
In a market that moves rapidly from one trend to the next, fashion brands will need to do more than curate the next season’s must-have looks to secure a strong consumer connection.
These consumers want brands to go further. Their needs have shifted; they value reliability and innovation far greater than being trendy or cool. Brands don’t need to reinvent themselves, they need to create opportunities to show their consumers how engaged they are with the problems that matter to them most.