As ambitious young fashion professionals, we regularly read articles detailing how quickly the industry is changing. These articles often cite facts, figures or, more broadly, insights as the basis of their analysis. Whilst understanding different insights and their impacts on decision making within the fashion industry is a pretty broad topic in itself – after all, it forms the basis of whole careers – knowing where these fashion insights come from and how the industry actually uses them is a good place to start.
Here is a brief introduction to three different types of fashion insights and their significance within the clothing industry.
Consumer insights refer to the way in which a brands’ existing customers behave. Brands can collect data from their customers through various channels (e.g email capture, social media engagement, own-brand sales reactions) and use this to develop patterns. To gain a competitive edge and ultimately generate revenue, a brand needs to know what their customer wants. Using consumer data to build actionable insights not only helps the brand provide the right products for their customers, but can also inform activities such as in-store and online experience, marketing and promotional strategies or operational and logistical processes, such as returns.
Market insights deal with patterns that are consistent across specific geographical regions. Brands will often group their markets differently, but the key markets for most fashion brands are Europe, Middle East, Asia Pacific and North America. Unlike consumer insights, market insights may include data relating to political shifts within a region, cultural differences or the state of the economy.
By utilising such insights, brands can customise the consumer experience to suit a particular region. For example, a brand may choose to offer a different product selection to different markets or may even tailor its in-store branding to reflect the tastes of the market. Market insights can also define on top level business strategies such as the decision to enter a particular market or not.
Similarly to market insights, industry insights are drawn from more of a birds eye view, looking at industry patterns as a whole. Industry insights generally look at how the businesses within the industry are behaving. A great example of this is the fashion industry’s move towards sustainability. More and more businesses have made sustainability a key part of their overall business strategy, so sustainability can be deemed an industry trend. A shift in industry practices implies a change in both consumer and market trends, so brands can often use industry insights to identify existing or emerging patterns which they may not be seeing from their other insights.
In an industry where knowing your customer is king, insights are incredibly valuable. Good insights can mean the difference between brand growth or complete decline and can impact decisions at all levels of business. Next time you’re reading an article about the changing landscape of the industry, I challenge you to see if you can identify the different types of fashion insights they’re discussing.
TOP TIP: The categories often merge together!
If we whet your appetite for further knowledge on fashion insights, here are a few articles to keep you going:
Words by Martha Ngatchu