Continuing with the comments that the series (pt.1 pt.2 pt.3) generated, what’s a DE to do? It goes back to the same thing every time; you really have to know who your customer is and why she would buy your line. Knowing that, you can target your media accordingly.
Once, I had the most irritating experience with a friend who is a budding DE, working on starting a line. I asked her “who is your customer.” She says a little something like this “my customer is a young metropolitan woman, who loves to travel and loves to shop. When she goes out to socialize, she doesn’t want to be bogged down by a large handbag and wants a functional, small piece to carry her essentials.”
To which I replied, “That’s good, but where does she shop? What else is she wearing? What publications does she read? What shows does she watch?” And I never really got a good answer.
Sometimes DEs design for people like themselves or their friends. The problem is, DEs aren’t really avid shoppers because they feel under-served by the market (hence the need for their own line). It’s okay if you’re not an avid shopper, but then you should have a keen understanding of the retail scene. You should know where your customer shops and what she buys and what she’s wearing because what you’re selling, needs to fit in with her lifestyle and her wardrobe. When you’re designing, not only do you have to think about what else is in your line, you have to keep in mind what else is in your customer’s closet; this is one key reason basics sell so well.
Now once you know who she is, what she wears and where she shops, you need to know what motivates her (or him, but I’ll continue to use her throughout this post). Why does she buy the things she buys? What makes them work for her? Where does she get her information on new products? From friends? From magazines? From television? Is she an early adopter or does she wait and see?
I know a lot of people don’t like to hear it but media based product placement is important precisely because leisure shopping is an activity best left to teenagers. Most women are too busy either with careers, education, family or a combination, to spend huge amounts of time window shopping. They usually shop with a focus. And many times, that focus is finding the product that they saw or heard about somewhere and going to purchase it because it fills a functional or aesthetic need.
For example, my friend told me that this is the perfect top that’s cut long enough so that my midriff doesn’t show when I raise my arms. I saw these pants in a magazine that hailed them as the prefect, wrinkle free travel pants. I saw these shoes on television and they are exactly what I had in my head for months, now I can finally own them. I heard about it, now where can I buy it?
Contrary to popular belief, the media is actually very DE friendly. The problem is, many DEs are not organized or strategic enough to take advantage of opportunities that arise. They may not have samples, they don’t have a line sheet or a look book, you ask them to send out samples and they don’t have enough time to get off work, go pack up the sample, and take it to the FedEx ship center in time for the cut off for overnight shipping.
Now, more than ever, DE’s need to be strategically involved in consumer marketing, even if they don’t want to. Sure, the retailer can bear the burden, or they can substitute your line with one that is selling better.