How to Do Market Research for Emerging Designers

emerging designers market research

Before you started your business, you knew that fashion design is a competitive market. Part of the business of fashion is to connect with and understand the consumers whom you want to reach.

Market research is one of the most effective tools in identifying those consumers and understanding what they want.  The problem is that the research costs money, and you only have so much in the way of business resources.

Market research is not outside the scope of your budget. Step back from the situation and look at things from a different perspective.  Instead of deciding that this is something that you can’t afford to do, begin to think in terms of what types of research are within your means.

Ideas for Emerging Designers on How to Do Market Research

Use the Same Resources That You Use to Sell

You are already using certain strategies to sell your designs.  Think about how you can use those same basic approaches to capture information that will help you expand your market share.  In some cases, making use of those same resources will only increase your operational costs by a very small margin.

Perhaps you call customers a few days after they make a purchase, and ask them a few questions about the garment purchased.  As part of the process, ask these customers what they might think about the same type of garment if certain other features were made.

How do they react to the idea of a different type of collar, or adding some type of embellishment along a hem?  Would those additions motivate them to recommend your product to someone else?

By incorporating those types of questions into that follow up call, you have effectively engaged in market research.  Your cost was a few more minutes on the phone, and possibly the expense of the pen and paper used to jot down notes during the conversation.  Do this with each of your sales follow-ups, and the data you gather will make it easier to determine what existing and new customers are likely to find attractive.

Make Use of Existing Data Pools

There is already a world of market research out there.  That includes research that has something to do with the business of fashion.  You can access that data at little to no cost.

All that you really need to do is make some queries online that have some relevance to the types of designs that you sell.

For example, maybe your business model has to do with clothing for pregnant women.  Access online resources and find out how many births took place within a fifty-mile radius of your business location.  By also gathering data that has to do with the local economy, it’s possible to get some idea of what could happen if you developed a line of clothing that would appeal to expectant mothers on a tight budget.

Work with a Local Business School

Your need for market research would make a great project for a business school marketing class. This type of relationship produces a win-win situation for everyone. Students have the opportunity to put what they are learning to good use. You get the benefit of detailed and relevant market research for your business of fashion. Best of all, your investment in terms of finances will be minimal at best.

Use Social Media

Pay attention to the people who are engaging on your business social media platforms. What are they doing? How do they spend their time? Find your current customers on social media and ask yourself the same questions.

Look at your competitor’s social media platforms and take note of what their followers are doing, where they are, who they are, what kind of language they use, how they spend their time, and anything else you can gather.

Limited funds do not mean that you have to get along without solid research. Identify low cost resources and put them to good use.  The returns on your modest investments will help you expand your client base, focus your design efforts, and ultimately lead to greater profits.


Image via Jeff Weston

Nicole Giordano

Nicole is the founder of StartUp FASHION, an online resource and community supporting for independent designers around the world with building their businesses. A deep love for the craft of fashion paired with an adamant belief that success is defined by the individual, led her to found StartUp FASHION, where she helps independent designers and makers screw the traditional fashion business rules, create their own paths, and build businesses they truly love. More than anything else, she’s in the business of encouragement and works every day to remind makers and designers that they have something special to offer the world and that they can, in fact, do this thing!

1 Comment
  1. grace injene

    Good article. Rsearch is the key to a good busines and identifying your clients needs! Designers and entreprenuers shld invest more time ad finances in it.



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