The overarching rule for every successful business lies in the understanding of its consumers. No matter how exceptional your products are, if you have not defined your target consumers or studied their needs and targeted them appropriately in your marketing, then you will always fall short. As much as you are the mastermind behind your brand’s goals, your customers help define your business. In every step you take in setting up your business, your consumers should be the constant consideration. The need to define and clearly appreciate your consumers is equally important in a fashion business. While it is true that you are an artist and are entitled to creative freedom and expression, you are not designing products for yourself, you are designing for a group of people. So, your business is a relationship between you, your consumers and oftentimes your competitors. These are some tips that can help you as you get to connect with your consumers.
Define your consumers
The problem with many businesses is that they don’t have specific consumers. As a fashion business or any sort of business, you can’t target everyone, especially small businesses. For larger companies, their target market is wider only because their product range is larger and caters to different segments of the market. There are many benefits to defining your target market early on because who your target market is influences what you design and what your brand stands for. What you have to understand as you start your business is that having a specific market is in no way limiting. Although you have a target, doesn’t mean you are excluding other consumers from buying your goods. On the contrary, having a specific market in mind, helps with branding, targeted marketing initiatives, selling platform, tailoring your products to your customer base and makes it way more affordable and efficient to reach your clients and make a profit.
Defining your base customers means indentifying the characteristics of the people you want to design for and sell your goods or apparel to. These characteristics are called a demographic profile and classifies those in need for your products. As your business grows, you will be able to create a better and more detailed customer profile. Firstly though, make a list of the type of customers that your products offers a solution to, for example, pregnant women, then from there start building a mental image. Some general traits used to classify customers include:
- Occupation and income level
- Marital and family status
- Buying habits
- Geographic location
- Hobbies and interests.
For example, if you are a fashion designer in Kenya, you should conduct sufficient research and see who your target market can be. So, let’s say you want to target female university students, from the age of 20-24, around Nairobi, who don’t make an income yet and are into African themed dresses. Based on this profile, you have created an image of a customer. In addition, based on that information, you can determine price range, a proper selling location that university student frequent, and you know that social media is key to winning them over. Of course, your costumer profile should be more detailed than this, but this is a general example to start with.
Basically, research everything you possibly can about your consumers and make them a priority. From what makes them tick, to their desires accepting that no detail is irrelevant. However, you need to know yourself and target a market that aligns to your ideals, budget and vision.
In order to fully understand how your consumers feel about your products or brand, it is important to establish consistent and honest communication. [bctt tweet=”Businesses improve if they are aware of what is both satisfactory and/or dissatisfactory about their goods to their consumers.”] The only way to gather such information is by interacting with their customers. It is never too late or too early to ask what your customers think about your services and products. This practice should be a culture in your business, at the very beginning and as it grows. In fact, even as you formulate your business plan you should gather opinion about your idea, to test the water and see if your business proposal is needed or even necessary. Customer feedback is vital in the long-term improvement of your product, brand and overall customer service.
There are several ways to acquire data and opinions from your customer base about your goods. There are surveys, recommendation boxes, call centers, or asking them directly. What matters is to have strong customer interaction, how you do it is up to you.
We cannot overstress just how important customer interaction is; your business might very well depend on this simple aspect that is oftentimes ignored. When your customers feel like their opinion matters, they form a bond, a sense of loyalty and belonging to your brand. Moreover, you also learn from them. Feedback is a continuous process that should be done consistently and as often as possible.
[bctt tweet=”The most successful businesses have a customer-first mentality embedded into their business culture”]. The three questions that should be your constant companions about your costumer should be; [bctt tweet=”who they are, what they buy and why they should buy your product”]. Also note that by law, your consumers are entitled to respect and a protection of their own rights. You cannot afford laxity when it comes to your consumers. They are your heroes because they care enough to buy your product and to stay loyal to your brand even though there are many more similar brands out there so put in the effort to build that relationship.
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