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Fashion Forward Customers Lead The Apparel Industry

Fashion industry has gone through a rapid transition during the past decade. With unpredictable trends popping up every now and then, who is leading the industry?

In a global perspective, fashion apparel is one of the most important sectors in the clothing industry in terms of customers, investment, revenue generation and employment. The industry is anticipated to grow in leaps and bounds in the years to come. Apparel industry, like the autumn trees shedding leaves, making way for future growth is experiencing changes frequently, undergoing positive evolutions. A recent market estimate states that global fashion apparel industry will reach a value of $ 1,781.7 billion by 2010. Apparels, especially fashion garments have a very short life cycle with unprecedented trends springing up every now and then. Manufacturers adopt creative ideas to enhance their business models and strategies.

Consumers – the driving force:

Todays consumers are well aware of the upcoming trends, and competitive pricing. Media such as internet, magazines, and television are playing an integral role in spreading the awareness. They have become more demanding, expecting a cost-effective deal in terms of both quality, and pricing. Fashion apparel industry is one of the fastest moving industries and is more consumer driven. Apparel retailers sketch solutions for branding their merchandise, and enable adequate supply of products through their supply chain. Manufacturers are putting their best foot forward in improving the performance of the apparel supply chain, and offering a wide assortment of garments matching with the latest trends.

Fashion Forward Consumers the key facet of apparel retailing:

A recent market survey by Acxiom exploring the fashion choices, and preferences of customers revealed that they can be classified into three main categories:

“Fashion Forward consumers: who look for latest trends and styles.

“Traditional consumers: who prefer to have a conservative look in their garments.

“Value driven consumers: who seek more value and comfort in their apparels, rather than fashionable looks.

The research further states that, of the total mass of consumers surveyed 50% of them are value driven, 34% of them are traditional, and fashion forward consumers make a mere 16% of the total population.

Despite the minority population, the third category of consumers, are likely to spend more on apparel purchases than the other two groups, and have the tendency to refer their friends and colleagues to their preferred retailer. Fashion forward women tend to spend 1.7 times more on apparel comparatively over traditional consumers, and 2.7 times more than value driven consumers.

Characteristics of the Fashion Forwards:

“Fashion forward people generally belong to the higher income group.

“People from the age group of 18-33 are more fashion forward though they constitute of only 27% of the total population.

“Fashion forward women account for 32% of the total sales of apparels which is almost half of the purchases of the women from the other two groups.

“Irrespective of their income level, fashion forward people like to shop in Departmental stores, and specialty shops for their apparels.

“They prefer to shop for fashionable apparels and a fashion forward shopping experience.

Retail Strategies:

In this highly competitive world, retailers have to compete more than ever to gain the customers attention. Retailers come up with creative ways to convince the customers, making their shopping experience more memorable, and convenient. Achieving high performance requires the communication of a core set of emotional values, and establishing continuous relationship with the customer.

“Special Discounts: Consumers can pre-order apparels from the forthcoming collection and avail a significant amount of discount.

“Feedbacks and Suggestions: Retailers take regular feedback from their customers.

“VIP Privileges: For a specific amount of money paid, the customers get exclusive privileges along with the apparel of their choice.

“Credits: For every apparel purchased, the customer gets credit which can be added up, and redeemed later for specific services.

The harness of the fashion apparel industry is undeniably in the hands of the fashion forward customer, despite of their small size. A customer, who is satisfied with his shopping experience with a particular retailer demands even more the next time. In the business of fashion apparels, the success of the retailer depends on his ability to understand, and exceed the customers expectations, to surprise, and excite them.