Maybe you have everything in place. Maybe you’re ready to pull the plug and jump into the fashion business of your dreams. You’ve double checked your timelines, manufacturing process, designs, materials, manpower . . . but before you take that leap, due diligence in the realm of market research is a critical (and often overlooked) step of the small business process.
Your ideal consumers have voices and opinions that drive their buying habits and day-to-day decisions. Without tapping into their mindset, you’re essentially discrediting the driving force behind the potential success of your brand.
Market research gives you a foundation for identifying your top consumers. It also helps identify what they want and how you can provide a solution to their problems.
We won’t lie to you, it’s not a very glamorous aspect of a fashion business. But the data you pull from your target market will define your decisions and help inform the more exciting parts of starting a flourishing fashion business.
So, How Do You Start the Market Research Process?
Chances are you’re going to spend most of your time gathering primary research. This is research that comes directly from your potential customers. A common misconception is that this type of research is expensive, time-consuming, and ultimately ends up gathering dust in a laminated binder on your office desk.
Well, you’re in luck because you truly don’t need to shell out thousands of dollars for an outside company to conduct focus groups or analyze data. There are a few simple and effective ways you can gather your audience’s thoughts and turn those thoughts into effective business strategies, no matter what stage your business is in.
Use Everyday Websites
Take this as a permission slip to spend a day intentionally browsing user-generated content websites like Quora and Reddit. Self-proclaimed as the “front page of the internet” you can get a good handle on the pulse of your industry by spending some quality time browsing these sites.
Quora is unique because it’s a social platform wrapped up into a Q&A website. It allows users to submit questions and verified users to post answers to those questions.
Set up your profile and save tags that relate to your fashion business. You’ll get notifications when a new question has been posted in your area of interest. Use this information to discover what users are looking for and what their pain points are.
Reddit, one of the highest trafficked websites in the US, is also based on user-submitted content. Download the app and make a habit of reading through subreddits that relate to your industry or niche. You’ll be able to gather valuable consumer insights and trends by keeping an eye on what the masses are talking about.
Social Media Is Still Powerful
Sure, we all might be a little disillusioned with the Instagram algorithm and Facebook ads, but the power of social media is still a force to be reckoned with. If you already have a bit of a following on social media, reach out to your followers with a personal message and a question or two about why they follow you and what they hope to see from your brand.
Everyone likes being acknowledged on social media. Let your audience know you’re a human behind the pretty images. Reply to comments and interact with your audience. Facebook groups are another excellent place to ask questions and gather consumer insight.
Find a few Facebook groups that relate to your niche and start combing through the posts and comments to gather relevant information.
Email Surveys with Incentives
Although, this may be a tactic that’s more relevant for maturing brands, keep this one in your back pocket to use later down the road. Before your fashion brand even launches, make sure you have started to gather email addresses. Chances are, the people that will create the core of your brand will be some of the first to sign up for email alerts about the launch of your company.
Send an automatic, but personal, welcome email to those consumers thanking them for supporting the brand and add an option to take a short survey. If they opt in, reward them with a discount code or another incentive as a thank you for their time.
Create a short Typeform or Survey Monkey survey that ask basic questions such as why they’re interested in the brand, what speaks to them about the designs, how likely are they to purchase at a designated price point, and other similar questions.
Check out Your Competitors
There’s nothing in the rulebook that says you can’t take a peek at what your competition is doing. Make mental (or physical) notes of what your competitors are doing. Identify their main marketing messages, who they’re attracting on social media, their imagery, design launches, and everything in between.
While you may not share the exact audience, there will be some overlap. If it’s working for them it may be a good strategy to adopt later down the road.
What To Do With Your Market Research Data
So now that you have all this consumer data floating around in your head, it’s time to bring it together and make sense out of it.
First and foremost, all this information you’ve collected will allow you to identify your target customer. As a designer, you know you can’t be everything to everybody. You have a target consumer in mind, make sure the person in your head is the one that will actually be interested in your product.
Next, use your newfound information to create better marketing materials. Especially in the beginning stages of a brand, it’s crucial to nail your marketing on the head. This data will open up a whole world of possibilities for you.
And finally, use your market research to discover holes in your current offerings or the current market. If you can fill a need for your target audience you’ll be off to a running start.
The market research process doesn’t have to be dry and boring. It’s truly an art form that when conducted correctly will open so many doors for you and your new fashion brand.