Creating a successful brand in the fashion and lifestyle industry is extremely difficult. It’s even harder to maintain that success and stay popular. The industry moves quickly so if you’re not keeping relevant, you can easily find that your customers have moved on to the next big thing. Because of this, it makes it hard to expand and knowing what product or area to invest in can often feel like a guessing game.
Big brands have a solution for this, admittedly one which can take up a reasonable amount of time, but when done well it can take a lot of the guess-work out of developing your product range and brand. Here, business coach and designer, Vicki Wallis from 29andSeptember Studio, gives us some quick tips about gathering brand data and explains how you can use it to grow your business.
Dive into the numbers and spreadsheets. It’s not the most glamorous part of running a brand for sure, but it can help you to minimise the risks that come with producing your next collection and help you to stay on track. There’s lots of different sources for useful data, many of which are free. So even if you’re a small brand with a limited budget, you can still use this method and apply it to your label.
Data sources include things like;
- Information collected by your website provider (for example Shopify, Squarespace, Big Cartel) on how many visits you get to your site, how many page views, the sales you make, the most popular pages, etc.
- Google Analytics, which is a free service and gives similar information to your web provider. Taking time to set up specific goals and trackable actions (such as where your website visitors come from and what actions they take once they land on your page before purchasing) will pay off in the long run.
- Data provided by social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, which show how much engagement your posts have received.
- Figures that you keep track of yourself, such as sales figures, best selling products and colours.
- Customer feedback, which you can get via social media accounts, sending out feedback requests, asking for the reasons for return if someone refunds an item, etc.
- Other information providers. The options here are diverse, for example, it could be a subscription to a trend prediction agency such as WGSN which gives insight to both fashion and consumer trends or it could be your Flaunter account which reveals what the media are searching for, and which of your images/products they are using for publication.
How to use your data.
Data can be like discovering gold. Use data well and you can increase your sales and minimise the risk you take when you invest in anything – in this case product or marketing budget. So, how do you do it? The first step is to take the numbers and turn them into something workable. This might sound like a chore, but as a fashion buyer and designer, my Monday was always dedicated to numbers. In fact, in my 14-year career, I’d say I’ve spent more time analysing data than I have actually designing (that’s another one of those fashion industry secrets no one tells you!). You can split this analysis into two parts. The first is relevant to the actual product and the second is marketing.
You can use data to understand your customer’s needs and cater to them in your next product range. Before you start developing your product it’s helpful to look through the data and understand the following;
- Best vs worst sellers – Historically, which styles, sizes and colours are your best and worst sellers. Why might this be? On the bestsellers, figure out what makes them connect with your customer. Was it the shape, colour, print, fit? Or maybe it was heavily featured in your marketing. Learn how you can reinvent this success into new styles for the future. You can do the same for the worst sellers and learn what to avoid.
- Returns – Why have people been returning your goods? In the clothing industry especially, high returns are to be expected, particularly online, however looking at the return reason might help you to fix an issue in future collections. For example, if lots of people returned skirts because they were too short, you might want to include longer lengths next time. Or if it’s because of a fault, you need to address this for next season.
- Customer feedback – Regularly connecting with your audience is really important. Whether this is by email, social media or a survey, you need to take note of what they are asking for. It’s true that some comments you have to take with a pinch of salt – you can’t possibly accommodate every single request. But, if you notice a pattern, it’s time to start paying attention, listening and acting on what your customer wants to see.
- Trends – One of the best ways to future proof yourself is to look at trend reports, both for product styling and consumer shopping habits. Trend forecasting information can be expensive, but you can start to notice these consumer habits yourself, or by using resources like Google Keywords or the Flaunter search term insights. Especially in the digital age, when things are moving so fast it’s important to make sure you’re on top of new developments and implementing them before you fall behind. No-one wants to invest in something just before it became irrelevant.
Data can also be effectively used to improve your marketing activity and give you a greater ROI on any advertising or PR spend. ROI stands for return on investment and refers to the amount you earn as a result of any marketing activity. If you’re spending any money on things like Facebook ads or influencer marketing, it’s really important to understand your ROI so you can make the most out of your ad spend. You can also look at which activity is driving the most traffic to your website/store and getting the most sales as a result. Two areas that are easy and effective to start off with are;
- Traffic source – this shows where your traffic is coming from. Often you’ll see that one source is outperforming the others, which can be an indication that you should focus more time working on this source. For example, if you got lots more traffic from Pinterest than you did from Instagram, it might be a good idea to focus your energy on Pinterest as you’re getting more potential customers through this platform.
- Popular pages – this shows which pages on your website are getting the most attention. This will give an insight into what your audience finds interesting, so you can create more content around this topic. For instance, if your blog post on what to wear to a wedding is most popular, you could add in other posts about pre-wedding prep, or create a similar post which showcases newer product.
- PR insights – getting clear about your PR goals and keeping track of where and when your product is getting coverage is helpful in getting some brand perspective. Your brand and customers may be perceived quite differently by outsiders and tapping into that could open up a whole new audience. Analyse your PR success and failures and use Flaunter to think about who your customers are and how you can get in front of them in terms of earned media rather than paid marketing. You can also figure out what type of images to shoot for your next collection in order to get more attention rather than creating expensive content that no one wants.