Your entire business, whether it’s in fashion or in general product retail, hinges on the design of your product. You would think then that product design should be the most important part of your business? WRONG! For example, you might have an amazing product with the most incredible fabric, materials or trims, ethical workforce, and a money-saving or luxurious design. However, if the customer you are trying to sell that product to is not interested then you’re going to go out of business very, very quickly because of this simple equation:
NO CUSTOMERS = NO SALES = NO BRAND
It’s not enough to infuse all of your creativity into your product. You also have to sell it to be successful. So why do designers not do a proper customer profile for their business and product? Your product is not for everyone, that’s a fact. Not every person in the world will need, want or even like it because we all have different tastes. There is no point trying to force it on people who won’t be interested. Instead, focus on your core customers. The ones who will adore what ever it is. Give them what they want and need. Every decision you make in your business, and the design of your new products, should come down to your customers and what their needs are.
Think about it like this…. If you decide to choose a social networking site you’ll probably ask yourself the question:
”How good is YouTube for my product?”
But if all of your customers are on Twitter, it’s pointless. You’ve just wasted all that time building a page, making videos, and telling everyone about it. The question you should have asked yourself is:
”What is the best social network for my customer?”
This idea (what’s best for your customer) should ALWAYS be at the end of every question you ask yourself about your business. The answer to it should tell YOU what to do. In the time of the internet the customer is always right. With so much competition you need to make your customers feel good about buying your product. If they have bothered to spend their time looking at something you have designed, on or offline, then you should be repaying that with respect. The amount of competition in the world is huge. If a customer gets out their credit card and buys something from you [ forgoing the billions of other choices available ] then they deserve to have a great product that fits their needs. The better it is, the more your customer will love it and the more likely it is that they will tell their friends and come back for more. Happy customers, happy cash register.
This is why you need to make sure that you spend as much time as possible gathering all the information about your customers you can. You should take the time to consider their feelings and understand their needs. Don’t make the same mistake as others, and skip over the step because you assume that you know your customer. It’s a huge mistake to think that everyone needs your product, and it’s even worse to think that people will love something you make just because they’ve bought from you in the past. You’re wrong on all counts. Spend time going over your customer profile properly and you’ll be surprised how it will make your choices easier and increase your sales. Here’s how to do it right.
HOW TO DO A CUSTOMER PROFILE
A customer profile is created by looking for trends in customer data. This information can come from forums, social networks, your website comments, analytics of your sales, and so on. Once you have this information you analyse it, and use it to make further decisions about your business. For example, if there are a large group of customers in New York you might consider opening your next store there or holding an event in Manhattan. If there are a number of people who are asking for a larger size in your questions and comments, then make the bigger size. It’s about common sense, but before you can understand the market you first need the data.
For comparison, here are the details of a professional customer profile that we do at Fashion Services, which takes about 12 days of work, research and analysis:
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- Full analysis of your sales and data to create specific targeted profiles
- Full customer research based on sales data. Research covers graphical and psychographic information:
Gender, Age, Ethnicity, Job, Generation, Family, Marital Status, Life Stage, Education, Income, Social Grade, Cultural Climate, Religion if appropriate to business, Lifestyle, Personality, Attitudes, Consumer Habits, Interests, Key Influencers, Fashion Attitude, Motivation, Opinions and Concerns, plus other criteria depending on the business model and market.
- Covers main social network research for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other relevant social networks
- Full Pen Profile of your target customer or customers.
As you can see it’s a very comprehensive list and it takes into account as much information about your customers as we can find out. If you’re starting and haven’t made any sales it’s a bit more difficult. However, it can be done. Here’s how.
Decide on your product and sketch out some ideas. Jot down notes on what you think your products will look like. What fabrics will you use, will there be several prominent colors throughout your theme?
Decide on any core values or issues that are important to you and list them out. These can be social issues, morals, values or purely design concepts.
Check whether your core values in step 2, match up with the details in step 1. For example, if you want to be Eco friendly and use eco-fabrics, fur or synthetics may not be the best choice for your design.
Decide on a market that you think would be suitable for your products based on Step 1 and 2 and the type of person you can see wearing it. Is it trend focused? Young, but a bit rock styled? Classic and minimalist etc…. who do you think would buy these sorts of clothes?
Next, you should check to see if your assumptions are right. As you do this note down your trends. What are people asking for in forums, social media, blogs, and on competing websites….. find the data for that customer group.
Analyse the data you have found and think about the trends that you discover. Can any of these be used to improve your product? Where are these people talking about your type of product? Is there anything missing from your brand? Look through the information and think about how this affects your business.
Carry on through your brand building and product development, taking into account any consumer preferences that you found. Once you have some sales data [ at least 8 months to get proper information ] go back and analyse the new data and start again. Check to see where you may need to make changes and also where your original assumptions were correct.
THE ALTERNATIVE OPTION
Your other option is to go to a proper fashion services company who can do this for you. My company offers this service, however, I don’t force things on people who don’t need them. The cost of these reports will be a lot for a start up. During your set up you’ll also be far too busy with other things to consider the information, let alone have time to read and absorb it properly.
Do I think you should have one? Yes, of course. They’ll save you time and money in the long run, but only if you actually use them. In reality, I’ve worked with far too many startups to know that this is the last thing on their mind during the first 18 months. So if you are a start up, go through the steps and do an initial profile. Then, when you have some proper sales data, come back and get a proper Customer Profile done. It will be far more effective with the sales data and you’ll be in a position to actually use it.
If you are further along on your journey and do want a full customer profile done, then you can learn more by siting our Fashion Services Customer Profiles page.
We want to help as many people as possible and without your help, we can’t reach them. So if this post has been helpful to you, then use the share buttons below to spread the word, and help other fashion brands to create their own customer profile.