Tag: fashion

The State of Fashion & Apparel 2019

The State of Fashion & Apparel 2019

The Fashion Industry has been one of the past decade’s best success stories. But according to McKinsey, in partnership with Business of Fashion, 2019 will be a turning point because of digitalization. Success in this fast-paced landscape entails fashion players to evolve as fast as consumers or if possible, even faster.


Traditional brands must not only recognize the shift in the behavior of their consumers, they must also realize that emerging nameless brands are dominating the fashion space. This is because consumers today are more socially aware and are on the lookout for something new. This monumental shift caused a slight dip in industry growth (3.5-4.5%) compared to last year’s. To survive and remain competitive, key fashion players must disrupt their business models and offerings.


Regionally, fashion players recognize the possibility of industry slow down by 2020. Forty-two percent accept the fact that conditions may worsen this year.

However, not all regions are slowing down. The APAC region is emerging with China overtaking the US as the largest fashion market, while India is projected to become the 6th largest apparel market by 2022.

The fashion segments, especially luxury, tell a different story. Ninety-seven percent of economic growth for the whole industry are contributed by only 20 companies. Luxury brands are projected to enjoy above-average growth fueled by the growing APAC economies and increase in global travel.

As for the product category, sportswear continues to be on top followed by handbags and luggage, which can be traced to the increase in global travel.


The fashion industry needs to be more adaptable to catch up with digital consumers, who are no longer satisfied playing the observer role. Liberated by fast-developing digital technologies, they prefer to be participants and interact with brands they admire. Since they favor brands who are taking controversial and political stands for the environment, fashion players must adapt to keep up and stay afloat. A fact not lost on fashion executives and thought leaders who agreed that “the need to achieve greater sustainability and transparency” should be embraced as a strategic challenge.

Overall, the fashion industry is in a state of uncertainty. The reign of top fashion players can end quickly with the slightest shift in market condition, technology trend or consumer behavior. While these changes may present opportunities, it cannot be denied that they also present risks. Only brands who are prepared to brave these shifts and self-disrupt can come out as winners.

Discover more facts and figures in the following infographic:

5 Considerations in the Consumer Buying Journey

woman buying from her mobile

5 Considerations in the Consumer Buying Journey

As a business, rather than concern yourself with how to sell, why not put yourself in consumer’s shoes and explore the reasons why you buy. So, in this article, I’d like us to take a new approach and look at things from the consumer’s point of view.

The thing about fashion is that it’s more often a luxury rather than a necessity. For example, you “need a shirt”, but you “don’t need a designer shirt”, and the same can be said for any article of clothing or accessories.

But this isn’t to deny the existence of brand conscious people or those who think having a branded item is a need. The significance of this distinction is when someone is buying something they want, not need, they have more flexibility to make decisions.

So, what’s going through their minds as they head down their path to fashion? While this article isn’t about the psychology behind what makes people desire expensive things, and certainly all fashion is not overly expensive, a good place to start is asking yourself why you do. Envision your own buyer’s journey and consider that many people think similarly to you.

Let’s take a look at five important things to keep in mind about the buyer’s journey:

1. The Customer Journey Is No Longer Linear

Marketers used to have a linear mindset. It was marketing’s job to map out the path a consumer would take and to control the narrative. Today, it’s still marketing’s job to control the narrative, but mapping a consumer’s path is simply no longer possible. Consumers are now just too savvy and have too many options to even consider going down a brand’s narrow path to content.

So, in today’s climate, your goal is to put the right product in front of the right person, rather than every product in front of everyone. A person’s journey to buy a shirt, for example, does not begin with a pair of pants. It begins with a search on an e-commerce site or possibly on Google for a shirt. The journey has taken place in their head before they fired up their laptop.

Getting people to your product pages is your number one priority today. Consumers don’t care about you, they care about the product you’re selling. With loyalty at an all-time low, it’s obvious that a strategy that requires a linear journey will no longer work. Marketing needs to realize that the content that needs to be front and center is the product content itself.

That being said, customer acquisition costs roughly five times what retention costs. So, after the first transaction, it’s important that you have a tactical marketing strategy that includes special offers and continual awareness, on top of, delivering a quality product the first time around.

2. Fashion First

The good news for the fashion industry is that when people begin their online journey it’s likely to be for something in the fashion category. According to a McKinsey study, approximately 30% of new online shoppers start with apparel and footwear. Add to that the fast fashion market that sees online shopping as not different from a trip to the mall. It could be argued that e-commerce and fast fashion work together to make each other trendy. Just look at the people on their MacBooks at a coffee shop. Do you think they’re not making a fashion statement?

It’s also worth noting that 85% of product searches begin either on Amazon or Google. Therefore, search, both organic and paid, is a vital investment to make to ensure that consumers are able to find you. Once found, you can start offering personalized experiences. With a staggering 43% of purchases being influenced by personalized recommendations or promotions and 75% of consumers preferring to be marketed to with personal messaging, it’s essential that you have a plan once they do land on one of your product pages.

3. People Want What They Pay For

Oddly enough, when someone buys something online, they’d like the actual product to resemble the product depicted online. If they don’t get that, they’d feel a bit cheated. One reason that stores with a strong physical presence do well with online sales is that it’s easy to return items bought online. The difficulty of returning items is likely the last major barrier to people shopping online, but once that conundrum is solved the fear of a bad purchase will no longer be a hindrance. The cost of returns is also a huge issue. Online purchases are returned at a rate of 15 to 40 percent, which is roughly $400 billion worth of inventory.

While it’s a hassle to return items bought online, a substantial amount of it is still being returned. Certainly, there is a combination of factors when it comes to returning wardrobe pieces, such as the challenge of finding the right size without first trying it on and the shirt that doesn’t quite match the pants that has been envisioned. That being said, while there is no way to eliminate returns, accurate product descriptions and realistic portrayals would surely go a long way in reducing the number of returns, therefore saving you and your customer the headache of the return procedure and upping your chances of retaining your customer.

4. Easily Influenced

Consumers might have the upper-hand during the buying process, but that doesn’t mean that they want to go it alone! Instead of hearing directly from you, though, they want to buy proven items. Influencers in some form are part of the customer journey 84% of the time.

In fashion, people tend to buy what other people make fashionable, but how can they know what’s fashionable? They learn the same way we’ve always have — by looking at what celebrities or influencers are wearing. Remember “The Rachel”, from the TV show “Friends”, haircut in the 1990s? The only difference between Jennifer Aniston on Friends and influencers today is the medium, which is now social media, most notably Instagram. (The stats on Instagram as an influencer channel are pretty amazing and you can check them out here.) Advertising may have moved from the inside of magazines and television commercials to social sites, but that does not mean that it’s not an important part of today’s customer journey.

5. …Yet, Still Price Sensitive

With brands like Zara who are able to get clothes from design to shelves in only two weeks, there’s no doubt that quality takes a bit of a hit in the sake of trendiness. The good news for consumers is that for stores to continually restock their shelves they first have to sell what’s on them. And to ensure that things sell quickly, good deals appear from seemingly everywhere. This new trend called fast fashion has allowed consumers to keep up with the latest fashions and has also spoiled them with low costs.

The apparel industry’s market size is expected to top $1.65 trillion in 2020, up from $1.05 trillion in 2011. Industries don’t grow that fast if they only cater to the high-end consumer. Fast fashion has made it feasible for people to buy outfits for any occasion and in many cases have no plans of wearing it twice. Which means the circle will continue on and on for many consumers on the fashion buyer’s journey.

There’s a lot to consider when you consider the customer’s point of view during their journey. From how it can begin anywhere to the people influencing them to make decisions and, like most industries, budget concerns. While a lot of thought needs to go into your strategy to ensure that you are addressing your prospects along the way, by considering your own motives you already have a good idea on how to address each stage of the process.


Why Fashion Retail Should Go Online First

Group of People with Shopping Bags

Looking at global sales figures, retail is still a model of success. However, there has been a massive shift from brick-and-mortar retail to e-commerce. The reason is fairly simple: the fashion industry is focusing on consumer behavior – and consumers are increasingly staying online. Plus, the apparel industry in particular, is currently generating the highest revenues from e-commerce on a global level. So, if a fashion company is aiming for a long-term success, integrating digital channels within the ecosystem is imperative.

Added value is worth it

Fashion brands are given two ways to communicate with their customers: online and offline. Based on this there are endless touch points made to get in contact with consumers. In the digital age, however, the encounter with a brand increasingly takes place online and in most cases long before a purchase actually takes place. This in turn has a profound impact on the way a potential customer searches, finds and evaluates products. The business model must adapt to this changing user behavior in order to be successful. Playing the digital keys consistently and confidently, delivers a whole range of advantages:

  • Scope and customer base are expanding due to online-business. 4.3 billion Internet users thus become potential customers of the clothing industry in one fell swoop.
  • Location, time and mood are not showstoppers for the shopping tour. After work in front of the TV, from the bathtub or simply on the road, consumers can find everything they need without restrictions and can quickly get an overview of availability and pricing.
  • Relevant content can be applied on the web without limit: Next to context-optimized product information, additional content like blogs, videos, reviews, recommendations and more can play a decisive role in creating a convincing product experience; thus forcing a willingness to buy.
  • Multiple touch points facilitate the decision-making as e-commerce is not only a single online shop. Consumers leaving a shop without a purchase? That´s not necessarily the end of the story. You can keep up the awareness and remind them of their product choices throughout different touch points, channels and devices to positively influence their purchase decisions.
  • Social media is key to emotions. Platforms such as Instagram, Youtube and Pinterest influence people´s gut feeling and self-esteem, thus justifying purchase decisions. Also social media is a great opportunity to actively interact and engage with consumers – and to set up a direct relation to a brand’s online shop.
  • Marketplaces like Amazon, Asos or Stylebop allow brands to use powerful additional sales channels to distribute products on a large scale.
  • Knowing your customer is necessary in order to meet their preferences. Online channels allow businesses to track and analyze their customers’ full digital footprint and to convert this knowledge into more targeted communication. The better the resulting customer experience, the more likely consumers will be willing to provide their data – which enables brands to learn even more about them.

Opening up an online flagship store

Those who assume great customer experience is only relevant for in-store shops are very much mistaken. Nowadays, a customer-centric approach is essential for every touch point. Thus, an online shop needs to be much more than just a digitalized catalog. Dealing with a large assortment of products and no opportunity to physically try them out requires innovative approaches to boost product experience. The basics are already set: ordering straight from the branch for home delivery, convenient product returns, and free and fast delivery. Now comes the fun.

Zalando Ecommerce product image

Zalando: Close up images

The fashion industry strives to make in-store customer services available online. The virtual service shows up in different ways: products are shown as closeup images, worn by different models, 3-D animations or in short video clips – to present different perspectives. In order to ensure that customers get the best possible product experience – and to reduce the number of returns – it also comes down to a solution for a helpful size guide. The most innovative ones support them in finding the right fit without the need for a dressing room. To give a few examples: Asos and Thirdlove are using a list of detailed questions to recommend a personalized size, based on individual conditions, as well as previous purchases and experiences. Macy´s gives concrete explanations via video, while Mr. Spex evolves by enabling customers to virtually try on glasses.

Zalando Infographic

Zalando: Same item worn by different models

Pretty little thing catwalk video

Pretty little thing catwalk video


Macy´s Fit Guide für Herren

Macy´s Fit Guide for Man

Mr. Spex: Virtuelle Brillen-Anprobe

Mr. Spex: Try on glasses virtually

Expanded shopping opportunities through individualization

Established brands, with their own chain of stores, are expected to have an online presence. But consumer demands are going much further today. Personalization has become a decisive factor. Customer data, purchase and search behavior – gives reliable conclusions about consumers´ preferences in order to optimize marketing and sales processes. In the long term, this will allow brands and retailers to address individuals with targeted real-time offers – that are relevant and in context.

Technical foundation for your data

Fashion companies will need the right technological infrastructure to achieve this status. Deeply integrated systems allows companies to optimize their communication by integrating data from multiple sources and quickly distributing rich, high-quality product information from a single source across all channels – a major requirement for customer loyalty.

There are numerous software solutions on the market that claim to help solving challenges in marketing products – but to efficiently support online channels, a product information management system would be the core of any digital strategy. As a central repository, a PIM system can help you easily integrate product data from different sources, enrich and localize it, and publish up-to-date product information into connected systems like e-shops, e-fulfillment and content management systems as well as to platforms like Amazon, eBay or Alibaba.

Mobile shopping

Since online shopping becomes more and more a mobile phenomenon this holds another vast chance. Today, almost everything comes together on a mobile device even if it is primarily used for communication – especially via social media. This paves the way for companies to step into their customers´ private life. Thanks to Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, it´s much easier for fashion brands to engage with consumers – an ideal foundation to inspire, inform and incite them. A successful social and mobile strategy goes above and beyond just a simple presence in certain social networks or delivering a mobile app that is just a mobile rendering of their website. Fashion brands are able to connect different touch points – using social media as a sales channel in e-commerce and mobile commerce.

Journey to success

The customer journey does not follow a linear curve but is rather formed individually by a number of touch points. Technological developments are enabling even more to connect online and offline steps to that journey. QR-codes make it possible to call up product information, mobile apps allow easier product search and purchasing, while stores offer pick up same day. Consumers appreciate the comfort-level and differences of online shopping, but they don’t plan to renounce the brick-and-mortar shopping experience. The main challenge for brands is keeping an eye on further innovations to create a cohesive omnichannel shopping experience – with the consumer at the center of all efforts.

Fashion on the Move – Disruption as an Opportunity

Fashion Influencer

Fashion on the Move – Disruption as an Opportunity

Why the fashion industry should be optimistic about the future and embrace upcoming challenges.

The heyday of fashion is over. This is how a lot of fashion companies in Europe and the US feel, following global issues such as Brexit, current US-China trade disputes and the rise of protectionism on both sides of the Atlantic.

On top of those, a lot of powerful players in the Asian region have left behind their cheap supplier role to directly and confidently challenge their European and American counterparts. And not only are they winning, they’re dominating their domestic markets.

Meanwhile, according to McKinsey´s State of Fashion, emerging new markets such as India and China are developing at a rapid pace and overtaking the established ones.

While India currently has the highest growth rate, China, on the other hand, is now the world’s largest fashion market – ahead of the US.

Source: McKinsey, State of Fashion 2019, p. 26

In today, out tomorrow

Once upon a time, fashion manufacturers dictated how often collections come out and limited them to two a year. Nowadays, consumers not only expect something new all the time, but they drive current trends primarily via social media.

The power of the consumer influencer

Gone are the days when brands rule fashion from up their ivory tower, as today’s consumers have taken over. Self-confident and knowledgeable, millennials and generation Z tell brands what, where, how and when they want something.

Thanks to Amazon, they’re also used to not having to wait long. They use digital channels as a matter of course and have access to a multitude of product information, offerings and inspirations.

Thus, they have usually already made a purchasing decision long before they appear on the radar of companies.

They often don’t even get their inspiration from fashion labels and retailers, but from prominent social media influencers and opinionated peers, with emotional experience as the trigger.

The importance of brand presentation

If today’s consumers are both online and offline and on different channels, it’s essential for fashion brands to ensure a consistent brand image and product presentation on all touch points.

Although the work can be challenging, technologies such as Product Information Management (PIM) can help to centrally manage product data and deliver it to the right touch point – without spending too much time on manual work.

A PIM also has analytics tools that can provide insight into consumer behavior. With this, fashion companies are empowered to deliver a consistent product and brand experience to potential customers and influencers.

Digital channels as game changers


Source: McKinsey & Company analysis based on Instagram data, State of Fashion, p 73

Social Media, whether it’s Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube or WeChat, is the new showroom. Therefore, “digital first” should be a top priority for all businesses that want to be successful — big fashion brands, start-ups and niche providers, alike.

But unlike established brands, the newcomers are not slowed down by rigid business processes. The small challengers, in particular, are posting through the roof fan base growth rates of up to 300%.

With the help of new technologies, concepts and business models, they react quickly to market conditions and focus on customer interaction.

For them, e-commerce is the way to go, but in addition to their own shops, they also rely on the diverse possibilities of social and mobile commerce to reach consumers on the spot.

Among others, Patagonia uses Pinterest to increase sales opportunities and awareness

Sustainability and trust

In recent years, ethical resource management and humanitarian and social values have increasingly become decision-making criteria for consumers on whether to trust a brand or not.

Whether it’s the collapse of a textile factory in Bangladesh or the burning of unsold collections somewhere else – various scandals involving global brands have left their mark on consumers.

Sustainability, fairness and transparency also play an important role in gaining trust, especially for the millennials and Generation Z.

According to McKinsey´s “State of Fashion 2019 Consumer Shifts”, more than a third of consumers include these points in their purchasing decisions: choice of materials, traceability of the value chain, uniform information and the sustainable use of products.

This can be an opportunity to realign the brand, examine new business areas and show a clear attitude with a consistent appearance. In addition, new technologies such as blockchain can help to document the supply chain seamlessly in the future.

Everlane pursues a sustainable approach and relies heavily on social media.

Using digital technologies

The path of the customer from first contact to purchase or the customer journey consists of a number of contact points. It’s almost impossible to maintain each point manually and, at the same time, provide consistent information.

But systems for the central maintenance, administration and output of product information, copy and media data, such as images and videos, can help to simplify this task enormously.

Analytics and product experience management tools also make it possible to get to know consumers better and provide them with relevant information at the right time.

E-commerce systems, mobile shopping apps, sophisticated search functions and recommendation tools make it as easy as possible for customers to find the product they want and make the purchase.

Partner platforms such as Amazon, Zalando and Otto increase the reach, and social media increases awareness, customer loyalty and the desire to buy.

There’s a lot of opportunities and chances, as well as challenges to tackle in the “Year of Awakening”, as McKinsey´s newest “State of Fashion 2019” calls it. So, it’s time to get down to business with agility, speed and new business ideas.