A topic in the forum gave me this idea. Or rather, it brought the point home for me. So many designers start lines because they’ve shopped the market and can’t find what they like so they think the product or item doesn’t exist. Once they get out there and mingle, they discover this isn’t so true. There are plenty of product lines they didn’t know about -and with much more competitive price points and positioning so said start ups are stuck trying to position themselves after the fact and in a defensive position no less. The tragic fact is that too many start ups don’t look far enough afield. So my proposition is this:
On page 40 of my book is a worksheet one can use to define their target customer. Mine isn’t the only one; it’s SOP in most books. The departure should be a separate extensive list of related brands in the marketplace with a worthwhile and serious contemplation of their strengths and weaknesses. Some of this is done if one writes a business plan but again, I’ve never seen a plan that respected the exercise of competitive assessment with due diligence beyond the cursory. Frankly, if you do the job well, the conclusion one should come to at least half the time is that the market has been addressed and one should think of something else.
By way of example I could use gusseted pants for women which I wrote about recently. I bought several pairs of the only brand I could see myself buying (altho I’ve decided to experiment with men’s jeans now) and I haven’t been happy with the results. As a pattern maker, it seems obvious to me that the maker copied an off the rack pair of mono-butt jeans and stuck a gusset in the crotch to make it deeper. That’s no solution. Well, it is if you’re younger and like the fit of those jeans but for those of us who wore our jeans plenty tight and remember when pants still had a bifurcation, it’s not. So, in such a limited market, the argument could be made that there is room for another product line which was designed to encompass a gusset from the get go rather than a cobbled on solution. But in my way of thinking, I’d be more inclined to approach the maker with a suggestion to help them out with some of their product development (it remains shocking who doesn’t know what) with producing a line being the strategy of last resort. Or no resort. Is there a market for it within such narrow confines? Who is to say but I’m guessing not. Or rather, likely not commensurate with the effort required. I only know I don’t want to get into it. At this point, I’m tempted to develop my own pattern and give free copies of it away with the codicil the recipient makes me a pair of pants. Sure I’m likely to get some dogs but I kind of like the idea.
But I digress. Do your homework, respect the market. It is rare that your product doesn’t exist already.
OT: I’ve largely been offline for the better part of two weeks battling a rootkit (virus). It’s a first for me, never had a virus before. You know me, I always play it safe, never do even slightly unsavory downloads, am suspicious of freebies etc but I got snagged. I think it was an infected pdf. Live and learn. Point is, I’ve lost the better part of two weeks of work and you probably thought I was gallivanting or taking a break. I wish. Today I’m just wishing I had those 32 open tabs and two weeks of my life back… I’ve been so busy today that I couldn’t even take time to wash this skunk-reeking dog who has been sitting under my desk for most of the day. By now, I have a headache from it. I think I’ll sign off now and go heat some beans for dinner.