I’ve combed through multiple levels of demographics when investigating brands for designers, enthusiast and personal projects trying to pinpoint demographic information on the “ideal” customer for a fashion brand. The “ideal” customer is usually a generalized mesh of education, income, race, shopping habits and a few other prejudices that are great for census data, but not always great for fully understanding a customer in fashion.
All of these categories work well for predicting profit maximization but it gives no real, tangible connection with the customer, also making it quite difficult to identify and anticipate your customer’s needs on a more personal level.
Online brands often fall short in determining the purchase behaviors of customers based on categories such as body type, shape and ultimately how he or she prefers clothing to fit. This small factor is one of the strongest indicators of what a customer will most likely buy in the future. In e-commerce, it is important to understand why a customer purchases an item and what they want out of the item. So how can you prepare your brand for this trend? You basically need a virtual Virgil Abloh for your individual Kanye Wests… if not here are some better suggestions.
Online brands should develop clever ways to ask customers about their preferences. Whether its something as simple as having customers choose colors, style or silhouettes for upcoming items, it is a good idea to create some dialogue with the customer. Asking questions and having interactions will also give the customer a more personal experience on your website and may encourage them to return in the future. Just because a customer is making an online purchase does not mean that he or she may not want some interaction.
Interacting with customers online is important. Transiting from shopping in stores to online should be an easy transition for customers. To help make it easier provide customer interaction applications and anticipate what information is most important to the customer.
2. Suggest What “Fits”
When a garment is made, based on its dimensions, the garment fits a certain body type best; generally, the fit model. This should actually be the prime targeted customer, whom ever the garment was made to fit. The secondary customers may buy the product based on their affinity for the style, color and cut of the garment and tertiary customers like the brand.
In a store, this fit information is collected by the associate in the fitting room with the customer. Online, this information is not as easy to collect. Online brands often miss the opportunity to reassure the customer about the fit options and sizing, forcing the customers to continue the search for the next best choice. By curating fit analysis online, brands can advise customers on what garments will most likely fit them best. There are several technologies that allow brands to do this, but if you are old fashioned just mention it in a description.
3. Help Your Customer
Fashion is not Pepsi, everyone knows what to do with a can of Pepsi. Marketing and advertisements have done a great job of instructing the consumer on how to properly consume Pepsi products, when to consume them and how to feel afterwards. So why are online fashion brands leaving customers alone to determine what exactly to do with their clothing items?
Having worked in retail and having owned a store, I recognize how important it is to instruct the customer on what to do with your products. A simple solution I used for my online store was Style Guides. Guides show your customer how to wear the garment in ways that perhaps the customer did not realize. These style guides also allows the brand an opportunity to briefly discuss characteristics of the garments and how it can be worn on a more personal level. This can work as a guided fit analysis for customers. When incorporating style guides into social media efforts for my Luxor + Finch brand, the amount of garments sold increased dramatically in comparison to the products that did not get guides.
Customers can still benefit from a guided retail experience online. Even in a physical store, customers wander through hopelessly. Without the guidance of a well trained sales associate they may never make a purchase. As a Nordstrom veteran, I understand the importance of this customer service and interaction.
Advice for Brands
Adding a “Fit Consultant” to your team will prove to be beneficial in the long run. This individual will understand bodies, fit, shape and the importance of customization to your customer. This individual is also equally as important to your brand’s marketing team he or she can help create a personal experience for your customer just as sales associates do for department stores. He or she can help generate content that better engages customers and helps them understand the products they are purchasing. Understanding the body and how clothing will look on different body types, will give brands a more accurate way to target the ideal customer, while creating dialogue with their customers that could in turn be used to create a more efficient supply chain.
For specific questions feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org.