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8 Ways to Prevent Costly Retail Mistakes

Lets set the scene: you have designed your first or second collection, samples are ready and you want to hit the ground running. Before you take your product to Barney’s New York, Opening Ceremony or any other retailer, ask yourself, “Have I tested my market?”

Market research is one of the first steps you do in developing your brand and collection. At this stage of development with samples you have probably researched your competition, determined pricing, and created a brand story to launch off of. In fact you may even have a sales strategy to penetrate the market and a small list of contacts. This is, of course, the best case scenario.

On the other end, you may have none of the aforementioned in place. Regardless, testing your market will validate your brand, solidify your pricing strategy and offer you incredible insight before you launch any public relations, marketing and large retail relationships. With a small initial investment upfront producing a small collection you may be able to save your company thousands of dollars in the future from failed collections, prices that are too high and styles/bodies that don’t fit.

Through market testing, you can:
  1. Test out price sensitivity.
  2. Try new styles- does it fit on ‘all’ body types.
  3. Open up customer reaction outside of friends and family.
  4. Gather true demographic statistics before approaching retail buyers.
The best ways to test your market is going directly to the consumer through pop-up shops, trunk shows, and in-person events. The best strategies to getting the most from your 2-4 week pop-up shop are as follows:
  1. Assortment Planning. 60% Key Brand Styles / 40% New Styles/Fabrics
  2. Merchandising. Placement on the selling floor by price point. What does your client gravitate to? Price sensitive? Are you telling the story that justifies the price? Re-merchandise your selling floor at least 3 times in the 7 day period.
  3. Grassroots marketing. Invite your target market, partner up with local businesses to cater, speak to local press, and work with other designers to double up on your efforts and cut down costs.
  4. Lastly, be a hawk, ask lots of questions to your customers. Would they prefer it in a different style? Different colors? You cannot please them all, but you can understand what they want.
Remember: your goal is to get strategic feedback and make business decisions based on them.
Market testing is to a fashion brand what beta testing is to technology. It pays to do it, do it right, and make intelligent decisions with the data you receive.
Reference: thestorefront.com