Patricia Fernández Mesa, partner responsible for fashion and luxury in EY consultancy, goes over the changes that consumers experienced, now more connected with emotion rather than quality or price.
Nowadays, speaking about fashion is speaking about consumers, the profound evolution they experienced in their priorities, what they value and what they expect to receive and feel from what they buy. Consumers can feel good by buying articles of brands with which they connect, the most viral garment of their favourite influencer, products of low cost brands with which they can boast about finding the best prices, the latest smartphone model... or having dinner in trendy restaurants and traveling to destinations that were previously unattainable. The traditional concept of value for money has changed, since it was associated with price or quality before and now it connects with the emotion that the purchase generates, originating the concept joy for money.
This opening of the consumer is what favours new fashion brands, which intensely appear once again, to coexist with large groups and mature brands in an increasing number of wardrobes. In this context, it is essential for the brand to be able to build an emotional, intimate and personal relationship with its consumer (that is becoming unfaithful and demanding) to fall in love again and be chosen among the infinite options.
However, that is not an easy task: it requires expertise to attract attention, awaken interest, intrigue, tempt and build, after all, a story to be told that does not leave one indifferent. This process has become a new way to understand the interaction with the client: a more digital interaction. With all this, the fashion sector is experiencing a new revolution. Brands will have to give a twist to a business model that in recent years has already lived the era of the product and later the era of the store with its corresponding transformations, and that it has now entered the era of the customer.
“It is essential for the brand to be able to build an emotional, intimate and personal relationship with its consumer”
The first of the three major consequences, and probably the most known, of this revolution is a substantial change in the way to understand the store. It is accompanied by descriptive expressions such as retail apocalypse, and by reactions to rate valuations that include the words store and vulnerability in the same sentence.
Within the purchasing way of the new consumers, there is room for all kinds of store with which they interact, at street level or in the cloud, depending on what they look for on each occasion or at the time of the purchase. The options are endless and they question how many stores each brand needs and where. In addition, an exponential increase in the complexity of the operation is observed. New concepts are created to aim at, for example, making the store sell, having physical stock or not, that the stock has no owner and is assigned to the first sale, that customers can reserve items in store, pick up their order or return it wherever they want, or even pay only for what they do not return.
Store managers have become key players in charge of complex processes that move at a frenetic pace and diverse teams led to be encouraged to give their best. This brings us to the next major consequence, the importance of people management aligned with a new way of understanding work, capable of integrating the heterogeneity of expectations and motivations of different generations, and the difficulty of setting guidelines for the creativity of digital profiles, to understand flexibility and integrate it into deeply rooted cultures in which everyone precedes individualism.
“Fashion is an exciting sector: being able to seduce consumers and make them become fans and being able to seduce investors, captivated by the brand’s commitment”
Thirdly, the transformation in operative models that look for an ideal in efficiency, agility and transparency in the processes, as well as excellence in the incorporation of data and analytic models, level of automatization and uni-channel integration. Big data, Analytics, RPA, CRM, predictive models, smart stores and other big concepts are in the agenda of all the companies.
Fashion is an exciting sector. Able to seduce consumers and make them become fans. Able to seduce investors, captivated by the brand’s commitment and the potential returns (although sales can generate substantial uncertainties). Able to seduce managers, who take control while balancing conservative strategies and proposals to change course. And it will continue to evolve, at a fast pace, to surprise us with new ideas that respond to what we as consumers want our shopping adventure to be.
Patricia Fernández Mesa is partner responsible for fashion and luxury in EY consultancy.