When it comes to shopping for new footwear and apparel, we have the world at our fingertips. We are constantly exposed to the newest fashion trends – whether sought out by us or presented to us - and we expect our favorite brands to continuously deliver new, on-trend products. At the same time, both consumers have become more and more focused on sustainability, and more selective in their purchases. More and more of us have been seeking products that are tailored to our specific needs and preferences, (like sustainable contents and process) while keeping up with the latest trends. This dynamic has resulted in brands seeking new solutions for predicting fast-paced trends which itself has led to exciting new technologies. In this article, we will look at how product testing technology and pre-market product testing feedback plays an early role in helping brands decide which trends are worth pursuing.
How Brands Select Product Trends to Invest In
Trends are constantly morphing as the retail footwear and apparel industry is in a ongoing state of evolution. The process of and tools for predicting consumer trends has drastically changed throughout the years, too. The Daily Front Row recently put plainly how fashion trends are predicted, for example, which includes the impacts of fashion and runway shows, media, celebrities and influencers and everyday looks. From a broader point of view and across many categories, the voice of the customer has increased in both accessibility and influence on themselves. In response, brands have been seeking ways to capture this voice of the customer chatter and feedback, and distill the data to a point where that can make more informed decisions about which trends to invest in. Simply put, customers are talking more, and brands are trying to listen, more and more - all through technology.
Increased Technology Impacting Product Trends
Technology has allowed consumer channels to flourish. This has allowed trend prediction to become more accessible to all. For example, take fashion shows, which have always been a staple and inspiration for fashion trends. Through technology and media, these shows are now able to be shared way beyond the runway. This exclusive look into designers’ mind can prompt both brands and consumers alike, to be influenced by their vision.
Not limited to high fashion is the rise of celebrity influence and, later, social influencers. The early 2000s introduced the idea of utilizing social sites to break barriers between casual peer-to-peer connections and move towards building connection between users and content. As technology progressed and social sharing became more accessible, interest in social media content increased. As we got additional channels to peek inside the lives of our favorite celebrities (or deep look at the lives of influencers) the impact of these channels grew in scale and the rate of new trends big and small increasing in speed. One viral social post of a unique product can lead to an entire generation of fans looking to repeat it - for a period of time.
Predicting trends and selecting trends to invest product development in has traditionally been a challenge. However, new ways of listening to consumers through technology are being employed to help brands know what their customers want now and what they might want next.
Retail Technologies and Predicting Product Trends
From PLM to 3D retail technologies, digital solutions continue to be a growing force in indsutries from personal products to footwear and apparel and beyond. Simultaneously, customers' personal lives are becoming increasingly intertwined with the digital world. Brands are continuing to embrace the latest technologies to push the limits of manufacturing, marketing, and product experiences. But how do these technologies directly benefit the customer? One integral process that has been advanced through new technology is customer feedback loops. By utilizing product testing platforms that collect pre-market customer feedback, such as MESH01, brands are working directly with the consumer at an accelerated product development pace which allows brands to infuse their products with their customers’ needs and preferences and deliver on-trend styles faster than ever.
Real Time Feedback On Trends
A particularly effective technology that helps brands predict trends is concept testing. This pre-market voice of the customer solution helps take the guesswork out of the traditional design process, which can often be based too heavily on past sales and competitor shopping. In concept testing, target customers are giving direct feedback on product designs at the beginning of the product creation process. For this reason, pre-market product testing including concept testing is often used to help select materials, colors, and even entire silhouettes. Designers and developers no longer have to wait and hope that their customers are going to love their new styles. They can launch their products with the confidence that comes with including their customer in design and development.
More and more brands are working with real life testers within the product development cycle, too. As a product tester, you allow designers to see how their products fit and perform on a real person. And with an integrated tester community like MESH01, products are even able to be tested by real people in the right conditions, without having to wait for the perfect season. Further, the testers’ use of activity logs, image uploads, surveys and more mean brands are informed of any changes they need to make when creating the final, polished product.
Staying On-Trend Through Product Testing
Consumers and the retail footwear and apparel industry are becoming more intertwined through technology. As a result, aspects such as product trends are affected. Consumers expect instant access to the latest trends as soon as they are seen on catwalks or as soon as an influencer’s post goes viral. For brands, it can be difficult to keep up. With the help of new purpose-built pre-market feedback technologies, brands can have a more predictive approach to meeting their customers’ expectations, and staying on trend.