Allow me to be honest with you. Not everyone in the world is going to buy your collection.
Entering the fashion industry with the mindset that your collection will appeal to all kinds of people is downright wrong and presumptuous. If you believe that everyone is going to love and buy your collection then you are going to waste a lot of money, time, and energy. In fact, that is biggest mistake any business owner, not just in fashion design, can make.
It is absolutely essential that you understand exactly who your customer is so you can properly design and promote to your target market. Knowing your customer profile will give you focus and direction. There are many different types of customers and each of them have their own sense of style.
In order to best serve them it is imperative that you know who they are and what they want. From their age to their geographic location and the brands they patronize, you need to keep tabs of all these vital information.
Begin by targeting a niche for your clothing business to help you distinguish yourself from other sellers. For instance, you can specialize in children’s clothing, teen wear, plus-size clothing, or suits for men.
Ask yourself these six questions:
1) How old are they?
2) Where do they live?
3) Are they mostly men or women?
4) How much is their average monthly income?
5) How much are they willing to spend on the type of clothes you design?
6) What other brands that are similar to yours do they buy from?
Creating your customer profile
Having an in-depth knowledge of who your customers are makes your creative process a whole lot easier. Think of it as giving a gift to someone close to you. You think about what they will absolutely appreciate. You’ll be able to give your target market exactly what they want when you truly know them.
You need to consider where they live especially if you’re planning to put up a brick and mortar store. If you’re also thinking of having an extended online store, geographical location is just as important since you need to consider shipping and handling costs.
Knowing where your customers live will also help you in factoring in seasonal changes in your clothing line. Not only that, your proximity to your target market gives you more opportunity in terms of promotions and other marketing efforts.
The basic demographics you need to pin down are age, gender, and source of income. Find out their family size and their occupation. It’s also important to know their educational background, religion, and other beliefs.
These details contribute to your target market’s buying patterns. If you’re targeting single professionals living in their own loft then you can expect a higher purchasing power compared to teens living with their parents.
Psychographic profile (shopping behavior)
Buying patterns are important because you need to know what prompts your customers to shop. You have to find out where they shop (e.g. stores or online), when they shop (e.g. payday or sale), what they shop (e.g. clothing pieces or style), and why they shop (e.g. new season or latest trend).
You also need to know their hobbies, like and dislikes, values, personality, and lifestyle. The sum of all these things is the buying behavior of your target market.
Bring your customers to life
By putting names to the faces of each demographic, we humanize them. This, in turn, makes it easier for you to relate to them. For example, Ashley is your 20-something young professional who is free-spirited and loves casual but stylish clothes. On the other hand, Krystal is a 30-something mom of two kids who likes comfortable but fashionable wear that can be used both for errands and PTA meetings.
By having an image of these customers, you are able to logically predict how each demographic is most likely to behave. It will also help you come up with designs that are suited to their lifestyle and personal style.
Conducting market research
You can conduct a market research with help of professionals to give you a better and more holistic view of the industry. There are people and companies that specialize in these things. You can tap any one of the following:
● Fashion consultant – someone knowledgeable about the fashion industry and personal styling
● Trend forecasting company – a firm that specializes in trend research, fashion and lifestyle forecasting, cultural shifts, and data analytics
● Colour forecasting company – a firm that specializes in color research, color direction, and color trends
These professionals help fashion designers and brands in determining not only what customers want but also what will sell in the coming months. They analyze the industry using data-driven tools, allowing you to view the fashion scene from an objective standpoint.
Their market reports will help you align your designs and future collection.
Organizing focus groups
A focus group is a gathering of people with similar interests that discuss topics and questions related to it. More popular known as FGDs or focus group discussions, this meeting takes place in a neutral location with the participants not knowing what brand organized it to avoid biases.
You will need samples in order to get the best feedback from FGD.
You can promote your FGD in campuses or online in industry-related social media groups. Check out the website Betabrand. Make sure you have your questions, actual garments, fabrics, and designs prepared. It’s important that the FGD is recorded so you can go back and review their feedback.
Here are some questions you can ask:
1) Would you buy this style in a store?
2) How much are you willing to pay for this?
3) What do you like or not like about this fabric/color?
4) When you see this collection, what store comes to your mind?
5) What would you pair with this piece to complete your look?
Consolidate and document everything. All these inputs from your personal and professional research are valuable in your process of determining your buyer’s persona.