Consumers are more aware than ever of environmental issues.
In this digital age, consumers have access to vast amounts of information previously hidden from them.
This includes how fashion brands treat their employees and how sustainable their products are.
Customers are able to choose products that are in line with their values, making brands more responsible for their business decisions.
Fashion brands that can most effectively adapt to ever-changing environments will have the highest chance of remaining competitive for many years to come.
Here are 8 consumer trends that affect fashion brands.
Fashion based on sustainability
The balance between the biggest retailers and local brands is changing as a consequence of global efforts.
They try to make fashion more sustainable.
It is common for social media users to call for boycotting of brands that aren’t deemed “green enough” or associated with ‘fast fashion.
Multiple surveys have shown this to be the case as well.
Consumer behavior changed radically during the COVID-19 crisis, according to a study conducted by McKinsey & Company.
As a result, 61% of respondents reported they had taken steps out of their way to buy products packaged in environmentally friendly ways.
65% of respondents also said they would be buying higher-quality clothes that would last longer and a significant 71% said they would be throwing out fashion items less often.
This demonstrates the shift towards a more sustainable fashion.
In fact, in 2019 the sales of ethical clothing soared to a record high of over £53 million nationally.
A feeling of quality over quantity has taken hold of the conscientious consumer, and brands such as Patagonia have been reaping the rewards.
Patagonia has made sure to heavily advertise its action against the fast fashion industry, citing how they are reducing the impact on the environment.
They have also made sure that a high percentage of the fabric used to produce their clothes is made from recycled materials.
Patagonia wanted shoppers to limit buying new clothes.
This shift pushes fast fashion brands to rethink their strategies and supply chains that have been given bad press for inhumane conditions in factories based in third-world countries.
Brands define purpose-driven consumerism as including a core message or moral stance as part of their brand.
For example, brands such as Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty have made a significant point.
Such as demonstrating their size inclusion by hiring plus-size models and providing plus-size clothing.
Consumerism driven by purpose is on the rise in recent years.
48% of consumers surveyed voiced their issue with brands that do not have a social view they agree with.
42% of respondents also reported walking away from brands in frustration at their response to social issues.
This demonstrates the impact of having a brand purpose that aligns with the majority views of your customers.
Unilever has been at the forefront of the ‘brands with purpose movement’.
According to the company’s research, their sustainable brands grew 50% faster than the rest of their businesses and contributed 60% to their growth.
Some brands have set trends for the whole market by focusing on inclusion. Nuditone created band-aids for all different colors of skin.
This bucked the market trend of light-toned band-aids and opened up their brand to universal praise.
By including a message or specific mission, fashion brands can connect with their customers on a moral level to drive a positive image as well as sales.
The UK alone has seen a huge increase in online shopping, with the national e-commerce market alone being worth around $86.45 billion.
The global pandemic has forced brands to shift to a more significant online presence.
Pushing innovation for digital solutions in a world where in-person shopping had all but ceased to exist.
This even includes tech innovations such as the use of AR by furniture stores.
So customers can visualize what their furniture would look like in their homes.
The online boom has also forced many mid-tier brands to focus on direct-to-consumer (D2C) sales,
This method increases competition within the world of e-commerce.
By now, online shopping is a fundamental staple of fashion retail, with all of the major brands have adapted to the shift in climate.
Trying to fit into the latest trends make customer tire.
Therefore, many have decided to go their own way to carve out their own unique fashion sense.
This has been especially prevalent in the up-and-coming world of 3D printed and customizable gifts.
In addition, there has been the incorporation of online and digital stylists into luxury brands.
For example, Ralph Lauren has a dedicated personal styler on its website.
That can recommend products based on recent purchases or stated style preferences.
Even more innovative than this, Ralph Lauren has also incorporated smart mirrors into their London and New York stores.
That contains the same functionality.
Consumer choices are sure to become increasingly influenced by the individual as the emphasis is placed on the individual.
However, personalization is often difficult for smaller brands to achieve.
This data using for everything from recommending products to customers to defining their shopping habits.
All this data must be stored securely, in accordance with GDPR and other data laws.
This may be something that has to be overcome for smaller brands to realize their own customer personalization.
Increased customer expectations
No matter whether the brand is considered a luxury or fast fashion, consumers have higher expectations from outlets across the board.
The innovation behind the scenes to ensure a smoother process from ordering to fulfillment has skyrocketed.
Techs such as RFID to track garments, electronic tags, and augmented reality to provide customers with further information.
And the promise of same-day delivery has all helped to greatly improve customer experience.
An enhanced customer experience naturally leads to increased customer retention.
This means that the brands giving the most positive overall experience to their customers are more likely to retain their business.
However, their products may not be as high quality or competitively priced as some other outlets.
Unconventional purchase channels
There has never been a better time to be in the fashion industry, where innovation makes all the difference.
The industry has recently seen a fascinating trend towards a sale method called Live Commerce.
Live commerce essentially fuses together online retail with live streaming, bringing the online shopping experience as close to real-life as possible.
These online, video-enabled actions are proving a hit with the industry.
And, with the addition of special events such as influencer streams helping to sell products to an already captive audience, this space is only set to grow far into the future.
The purpose of brick and mortar stores
Brick and mortar stores used to be the default mode of retail and this remained true for hundreds of years.
In response to the rise of online shopping, brick-and-mortar stores have had to undergo a fundamental change in meaning.
No longer being the go-to place to spend money, brick-and-mortar stores will slowly shift to become more of a community space.
The primary purpose of brick and mortar stores is now to provide an experience of the brand rather than sell items.
Recent surveys found that 74% of event attendees ended the day with a more positive impression of the company after experiencing experiential marketing.
A study from Harris Group also found that 72% of millennials preferred to spend money on experiences rather than material things.
This altered purpose means that stores no longer need to stock every single color and size of every item they advertise in their catalogs.
Focus instead on providing a positive brand experience by hosting special events.
And creating original, ever-changing experiences, such as brand story-telling, pop-ups, or influencer visits.
As the pandemic subsides and people begin to return to physical locations to work, footfall in major areas is set to increase.
However, it’s likely that this footfall will only take place in specific areas.
Meaning that retail outlets will have to congregate in retail hubs such as malls and shopping centers rather than being spread out across a long high street.
Research by Deloitte found key factors that make mall shopping more attractive to consumers.
These include the convenience factor, as having lots of retail outlets all in one area decreases the number of ground people needs to cover.
Also mentioned was the role of giving brands spaces to create experience areas, allowing customers to have a more engaging shopping experience.
Similar to brick-and-mortar outlets, malls can provide an experience that online shopping just can’t.
With the right technology to connect with customers such as on-site AR services or pop-up stores, malls are prime places to become a post-pandemic trend.
Customer trends and the future of the fashion industry
In spite of the fact that some of these trends may only be widely adopted in a few years.
Early adopters will definitely reap the rewards of staying on top of consumer needs.
Fashion brands that listen to consumers almost invariably come out on top, accelerating an eventual shift away from practices such as fast fashion.
And towards a more sustainable, tech-driven, and personalized industry.
Written By: Maedeh Mehraein