As the COVID-19 pandemic begins to close, the fashion business world will enter a new era informed by the legacy of pandemic-time consumer shopping, spending, and fashion trends. It is valuable for designers to consider how consumers will behave post-pandemic and find ways to capitalize on that behavior for their businesses.
The three major consumer shopping behavior trends to emerge from the pandemic include increased online shopping, more support for local and small businesses, and greater interest in mental health products. Taken together, these trends reveal increasingly convenience and values driven consumer priorities. Read on to learn how fashion designers and business owners can benefit from each segment of new consumer trends.
Make Your Online Presence Robust
Roughly 36% of consumers shop online weekly since the COVID-19 outbreak happened, showing a sharp 8% increase overall. That’s due to the fact that brick-and-mortar shopping was not a viable and safe option for many consumers in 2020 and 2021. E-commerce will likely continue to rise as brick and mortar retail has shown a sharp decline. This is because many shoppers who were used to shopping in person have been pushed to explore online options and have become used to it in several aspects of their buying behavior.
The world has adapted to the online experience significantly in the last year, so it is essential for any fashion business to have a strong online presence. Based on your business needs, think of ways to incorporate tools and experiences for the consumer online experience.
If your business launched in 2020 and is still in its early stages, you can hit the ground running with a strong online interface that has the following qualities:
- Clear & Concise - A clear interface allows for users to prevent mistakes and easily find the information they are looking for.
- Attractive & Consistent - A webpage is far more readable when it’s easy on the eyes and looks organized, professional, and stylistically consistent across the board.
- Simple & User-Friendly - The best online interfaces are simple and easy to use. A design can be nice to look at and still maintain a good level of simplicity.
If your fashion business is more mature, you can explore ways to improve your online presence. Start by building a budget and outlining your goals. Typically these tasks can be time-consuming, so evaluate if you want to undertake these on your own or hire someone to take them on for you. You may even weigh whether or not to experiment with online advertising, which would require a larger budget. Additionally, you can set a goal to increase your online audience engagement and grow website clicks. If you choose to adopt this tactic, make sure to schedule time to regularly check in on your online platforms. Some other strategies to make your online presence more robust include:
- Build an Email List - Having an email list is a great way to stay engaged with your customer base and communicate with them regularly.
- Analyze Results - Regardless of which tools you use to build your site or manage your social media, there are a variety of reports you can create and analyze. Figure out which metrics line up with your goals and check in on them frequently.
- Social Media & Content - Create social media accounts based on where your audience is most likely to visit and create content that balances information and entertainment. Understanding and creating buyer personas is a good way to go about this.
- Create a Strong Website - Have a well-designed and user-friendly website to engage your audience. Optimize based on SEO best practices.
Capitalize on Your Small and Local Business Status to Attract Supportive Customers
There are more than 30 million small businesses in the United States alone and 31% of them were rendered non-operational due to the pandemic. Since these businesses were most affected by various quarantine and lockdown protocols, the pandemic raised a large amount of awareness for them. This has resulted in a strong movement to support small businesses. One study shows that more than 70% of consumers now choose to support local businesses if they have the opportunity.
If you are in the early stage of your business and categorize yourself as a small business, strategically you should make it known. Many socially conscious consumers are interested in supporting a small business, so present yourself as a small and/or local business owner to appeal to this customer base. The following are some things that you can do in that vein to incentivize people to shop your local fashion business:
- Support the community by actively networking, offering free resources, or donations of time or product where you’re able.
- Feature more sustainable products if you have them in inventory.
- Prioritize the customer experience.
- Provide fresh and unique products that customers can’t get in big box stores or on Amazon.
Update Your Stock to Meet the Increased Consumer Demand for Lifestyle Products
Many people’s mental health was adversely affected by the pandemic. This resulted in consumers buying more lifestyle products, especially those that promote mental health. In general, mental health has become more of a talking point in recent times, and the pandemic amplified this conversation to an even louder frequency.
Fashion designers can showcase products made from various types of sustainable fabrics or that create pleasant moods through color. There are many actions that designers can take to make their product line more mental health oriented, as well as to present their brand as a company that advocates for mental health awareness and support.
The pandemic has taught the business world that unpredictable situations can arise, but that significant business growth can still emerge from those. The above trends for consumer behavior stand out above the rest and highlight a host of opportunities for emerging fashion designers to succeed in their chosen field despite chaotic events. While product design and production are aspects of managing a fashion brand that are more difficult to change midstream, the business of fashion and merchandise strategy remains an area where designers and business owners have endless freedom to try new tools, experiment with new sales strategies, and maximize their growth to both local and online markets for overall brand strength and longevity.