Fashion is a business. The next part of any business and in the fashion process is “who wants to buy this item of clothing?” Also known as, the target market. Anybody who goes for an investment pitch is going to be asked this question. Who wants this product? If it is already to market, how many sales have you had? Are you making a profit? What are the numbers? So, it is imperative to know who you are trying to hit or corral with your product or brand.
A target market can start off very broad and then end up focused. Every company has one, whether they admit it or not. The target market of a company influences their advertising, their sales locations, how much they charge for the product or a price point and what goes on their shelves and what doesn’t.
The first part of knowing any target market is gender and an age range. In fashion, this is especially important because well, people grow. Babies grow at an extremely fast rate, children grow fast, teenagers tend to shoot up overnight and well, adults grow sideways. This applies to books and movies and video games and toys and just about everything you run across in your daily life. Children’s clothes, toys and books tend to come in bright colors. Books are written with few easy words and simple syntax and plots. These products also must appeal to adults for durability, ease of use and clean up easily.
As humans grow up, things become more complicated. More colors are added. Things aren’t as durable and sometimes are even meant to throw away. Books and video games get complex characters and plots, things become more “problematic” and profanity appears. By the time you’re an adult, there are different categories of clothes that are meant for different events that most people don’t even bother with anymore. Violence and erotica is normal in media.
So, knowing the age and possibly gender of your consumers is extremely important. But from there, it can be a bit more like story telling. Every fashion house has a ‘character’ that they are dressing, a type of person. They know this character’s occupation, relative income level (what do they have to spend, a price point), what they do for fun, where they go and so on and so forth. As technology became more important, they might even decide what cellphone their customer uses, where they go on the internet and their favorite social media sites. They may even make a size chart to say, “These are the sizes of clothes our target market wears.” They in short, create an ‘image’ or a ‘face’ for their company.
And they don’t get all of this information out of their imaginations. They get it from agencies that spend thousands of dollars and time doing marketing research. When you fill out a survey for a company or browse the internet, someone, somewhere is analyzing this data and helping companies target you with their products and their advertisements. It all helps narrow down “who wants this product?”
Every one that puts out a product needs to have a market for that product. Someone out there needs to want to buy that product and tell their friends that they’ve bought it so they can buy it too. It is one thing to say, “This is what I bring to the table,” and it’s another to say, “this is what I bring to the table and here is the data that people want what I can do and I can do so at this price so this many people will buy it.” That is what drives business.
Now a target market can surprise you. For instance, things like Veggie Tales and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic were definitely targeted at the younger age of the spectrum, 4 to 7. However, there was a huge market for Veggietales in college age students between 18 to 24, and for Friendship is Magic gained a huge following in adults as well. So, a word to the wise, you may think you’ve narrowed your target market to a specific group, but you can’t always know everyone who will pick up your work or buy your clothes or watch your media and choose to buy it and support you. Be prepared to be inclusive.
In the style post, I said I defined my fashion customers as the cool chick, the wild child and the femme fatale. When I conceptualized my brand in words, I wrote this: I desire for my personal style and brand to reflect the meaning of the word Sassy. Sassy: adjective, a colloquial word meaning impudent, saucy, lively, playful, impertinent, impish, feisty, brazen, full of fun spirited, jaunty, stylish, chic and fresh. My target customer is a young, sexy, independent, rebellious woman who wants to explore her world and exude confidence. Her vehicle is her status symbol. It consists of three major archetypes, the cool chick, the femme fatale and the wild child. Their overall style icon is Angelina Jolie. The emotion I wish to market to my target customer is to ‘Adventure in Style.’
I had a price point:
Contemporary sportswear consists of the sizes 0 to 16 or XS to XL. The target age group is 20 and up and is based on the Missy fit. The price range is $3 to $10 a yard for fabric wholesale and an average jacket would be $150 to $225 dollars. A dress shirt would cost $30 to $40 dollars. A high priced handbag would cost $300. Examples: BCBG, Betsey Johnson, Laundry, ABS, Levi Strauss, Guess, Express and Bebe.
In those two paragraphs, I have the age range of my customer, the size range of my customer, the price point of materials both wholesale and retail and I had a list of competition that I needed to set myself apart from. I then went on to define my three characters in more detail by defining them and then giving a list of traits, like so:
The Cool Chic:
Western Zodiac: The Virgo
Eastern Zodiac: The Rabbit or The Pig
The Number: 4
Ride: Harley Davidson
Key Words: Practical & Earthy
Lips: Tinted Chap Stick
Nails: Black, Navy or Espresso
Phone: Sony Ericson Gameplay
Looks for: Texture
Fantasy Creature: The Werewolf
Disney Princess: Mulan/Pocohantus/Belle
Break Up Song: My Give A Damn’s Busted – Jo Dee Messina
Polar Opposite: The Girlfriend
Comic Character: Marvel’s Rogue
Actress: Michelle Rodriguez
Your style and your target market come together to form your brand. And it’s important to know your brand because that way you know who your competition is and how to stand apart from them. If you’re designing a video game or a fashion doll or creating the logo for a fashion house. You don’t want your logo to be the same color or font as the competition. You want to be unique. You want your customer to walk down the aisle and see your product and go “That’s so and so, and I want that.” They can see it right away and pick it up out of the hundreds of other products out there.
If you’re creating a fashion doll, you don’t want the box to be cosmetic pink. Because cosmetic pink boxes are Barbie dolls and no one is going to be able to know that your doll is there among all the Barbie dolls. And you don’t want a customer to get home and realize they picked up your doll by mistake when what they really wanted was a Barbie doll. They’ll probably take your doll back and get the Barbie doll instead. By knowing your brand, you won’t confuse your customers.
It’s just good business not to confuse your customers.
So, ask yourselves a few questions. Who are you creating for? What do they have to spend? What is their lifestyle? Who is your competition? And how can you set yourself apart from them?
Onto Part Four