Putting Your Customer First
The biggest and most successful brands in the apparel industry right now are figuring out how to do things a little bit differently. For example, they are somehow finding the courage and the means to cross money off of the top of their priority list. They’re taking that leap of faith that their monetary goals will be realized if they focus on something more important: their customer.
Placing their customer service first in their businesses, these companies are connecting so quickly with their target market. They are creating brand loyalty through repeat sales and positive interactions at every touch point. And from there, the word is getting out… These customers are telling everyone they know about the brand, and we’re watching them grow now exponentially!
As a student of apparel business practices, I keep my eye on these brands constantly. I read every article I can find, listen to the interviews with founders and check out their products for quality and fit. Doing this for many years now, I wanted to share a few thoughts on what I’ve learned.
These brands are typically run by marketing professionals. A marketing executive or director from somewhere decided one day to go out on their own or with some friends and build an apparel brand, or a brand decided to hire top talent marketing directors to lead their company to success. Their expertise in marketing and advertising helped them to build positive momentum around the products in all the right ways. They have strong testimonials from celebrities or athletes. They know all the right verbiage to use to tout their garments as the best in the world. They are brilliant at bringing people into the experience of their brand, creating huge interest and massive success.
As a product developer for the last twenty years of my career, my next observation is about the quality of their goods. And unfortunately, there tends to be a lot to be desired in this area. You’ll notice I’m not naming specific brands in this post because I’m not here to bad-mouth anybody’s work. But there are two massive brands in particular who are crushing it with their customers and with their bottom-line revenue, but make really sub-par products. The fit is uncomfortable, the fabrics are not special and the quality of their sewing is poor. I’ve had several of the products from these brands fall apart after just a few wears and washes, and I’m not super impressed.
This combination is basically causing a false sense of customer care. And where I believe brands can really thrive is to find a way to bridge this gap. Focus on your product first. If your brand makes high quality, durable, long-lasting garments that will serve your customers' needs for years to come, then you're already a step above most others out there! Spend your time making one or two key pieces at a time instead of trying to make a full product assortment all at once. Slow, steady, purposeful and thoughtful fashion design is the path to success if you can have the patience for it.
If you can start there, that is when you should start leaning into the examples of effective marketing that these brands are using. One of my favorite examples of this is: "America's Best Tires brand wasn't given that name by someone else. They didn't win an award naming them America's Best. The brand named themselves America's Best and leaned into their confidence in their brand of tires right off the bat!"
Don't be afraid to tell the world what is the most amazing, best, first or newest detail about your product to help them see how fantastic it is. Bring your confidence and knowledge about quality to your customers. Over time, they'll not only hear about your amazing brand, they'll truly see, feel and wear your product for years and become loyal customers.