How are consumers buying for 2019 and beyond? There is a huge trend for both in-store and online activations.
In-Store Educational Platforms
Companies like Club Monaco and Rebecca Minkoff have started doing a lot of programming in-store. That can be interviews with key people in female empowerment or women entrepreneurs, looking at different topics, looking at different small clusters of industry groups and trends, and really capitalizing them in terms of in-store experiences. That shows it’s not just about having a trunk show or a pop-up shop to get someone to purchase, sometimes it’s about adding something of value in a totally different way. The Portland-based small fashion business, Field Trip, does a great job of having macramé classes and tarot card readings, and other ways of getting people to come in store without saying, “hey, this is just a shopping opportunity.”
Creating experiential in-store through education, through talks, through other kinds of lecture series, have been an amazing way in which a lot of key retailers have been activating community and getting people to come in store, to think about their brand beyond just the product. MATCHESFASHION.COM did a great job when they launched 5 Carlos Place, which was a huge operation for them. A multi-story home turned into an amazing experiential atmosphere; 5 Carlos Place now holds events, not just towards talks and lectures, but also personal styling, having trunk shows and other types of events, to bridge their community. There are all sorts of ways in which people are bringing customers into the stores. Remember, because it takes five to six different touchpoints to close a sale, it doesn’t mean that when they come there to listen to one of their favorite people speak, that they’re necessarily going to buy something at that moment, but get them into your brand and five or six touchpoints later, you will have created a brand-loyal fan.
Mobile Shopping, Mobile Styling
Stylist brand Threads Styling has done an amazing job of harnessing lots of Millennial stylists, combined with the power of chatbots. With 50 luxury partnerships, they have created one of the most influential mobile styling platforms that’s working with today’s affluent Gen Zs and Millennials. The average basket for someone who’s shopping on Threads Styling is $3,000, a huge differential from a company like Mytheresa, another online luxury platform, that sells products with an average basket of about $700.
When we’re thinking about buying trends, the consumers are looking to have on-demand styling. They want to be able to purchase things right away. They want to know that there’s someone on the other end that has the capability to be able to help style their outfits. Threads Styling started as a very unique offering to a small London hotel, and has now expanded into multiple markets. They’ve found the majority of their customers are actually coming from the Middle East. Those customers have a lot of cash flow, and are young spenders. They want to walk away with something different and something special. Look for new mobile platforms and ways that you can engage with customers in real time, and offer amazing styling opportunities to them. There are tech solutions out there that can even work for the smaller fashion startup businesses.
Streamlined Customer Service
The final trend in consumer behavior comes out of the shipping company Narvar; it was a really interesting study of over 1,000 interviewed customers. They found that the majority of them are looking for more seamless experiences through the shipping process (not a seamless checkout), and that customers wanted to be in communication more often with brands as products were being shipped to them. Customers wanted an update when the product gets placed, when the order gets placed, an update when it gets shipped, an update when it’s en route, and certainly same-day communication when that product is being sent to their doors. What does this mean for you? Incorporating a lot of these trends means making sure we know what is best for the consumer.
What does that mean? That means investing in technologies that will add value to that customer experience, as it either relates to shipping, shopping, or any type of in-store events that you might be doing. Efforts are not just tailored towards trying to get a sale, but genuinely doing curated events on topics that are interesting, and on different kinds of passion points that your customers really want to be engaged around. That’s a great opportunity if your brand stands for something, and it’s passionate about something. Using the opportunity to bring in other guest speakers, and curate opportunities for your customers to meet these people, is a great way of telling customers you care about them, and not just their money.
Tips for Implementation Success
For growth stage companies and consumer buying trends, the most important thing is to avoid doing too many things at once. It’s very important that you limit your investments to things you’re going to see an immediate ROI on within the next 6-9 months. Upgrading your technology is one of the things that is probably the most crucial. When scaling up, concentrating on outbound marketing activities rather than making sure adequate infrastructure is in place, will make outbound marketing activities fall flat. How are you going to be juicing that and doing better with that data over time? You need to capture the data, making sure that you have the right opportunities. Growth stage businesses invest in infrastructure, and invest in technology.
A totally different ball game is a fashion startup. For the fashion startup brands out there, you need to know how to get in front of customers. What is the easiest way that you can stay on top of these trends that are happening? Start by being grassroots. Consumer buying trends are consistently telling us that customers want to have in-real-life touchpoints. If you’re already thinking about your next pop-up shop, you’re already thinking about those opportunities. Double-down on making them the best experiences ever. Make sure they’re real, make sure they’re authentic, make sure these are Insta-bait moments. You know that your customers are going to spread the message, and you’re going to have some good reverb on any of these events that you do.
And for fashion startup businesses, take advantage of the opportunity as being a possible thought leader within your space, as being a CEO who actually could have some influence. While you might be a CEO of a small fashion business, you can actually have a lot of reach as being a CEO of that company. If you’re looking at brand strategy to get in front of your consumer, do not forget the importance of your own personal influence, and your own personal brand strategy to help get your customer to come back to that brand.
If you need help understanding how to apply customer buying trends or you’d like to create a custom portfolio of strategies specific to your business, please do send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.