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Researching your market and competition

How to research your market

Ideally, you want to get a sense of the type of customer your product or service will serve and if there is a need for your product or service at all. In order to determine if your product is really needed, you will want to learn as much as you can about your potential market.

You can learn a lot about the fashion industry, and more specifically the market for sustainably made fashion, online. Of course you should start with a simple Google search. However, there are a range of websites where you can get free information about market trends, such as Ethical Fashion Forum, Business of Fashion, McKinsey, EDITD blog and WGSN blog. We would also recommend looking at the websites of fashion councils or trade associations in your country or region. For example, in the UK you might find useful information from the British Fashion Council or UK Fashion & Textiles association.

If you want to understand the size of your market, you probably won’t be able to do this alone. You might want to look at government statistics websites or you may even want to call your local government if you want to hone in on a particular demographic of people in your area.

Are there any specialist companies that have carried out research on your particular area of interest or your potential customers? Are there any local business support organisations that can help you? Sometimes these organisations will have access to market research services that you might not be able to access on your own.

You will need to identify who your competitors are first. Blogs are a great place to browse and discover what fashion businesses are active and doing well at the moment. Visit the shops you think might be relevant to your product; what brands and products are they stocking? If your business idea is more of a service than a product, speak to your friends and colleagues and find out if they know about any similar services.

Set up Google alerts for key words related to your business idea. Be fairly specific and you’ll get more relevant results, for example:
“sustainable fashion”
“ethical fashion”
“Fairtrade t-shirt”
“organic baby clothing”
“handmade textiles”

Who is your competition?

The best way to research your competition is by becoming a customer. Sign up to their email newsletter, visit their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Find out how they communicate. Jot down what you think works and what doesn’t about their approach. Use free online tools like www.alexa.com to see how your competitors weigh up online.

Visit their website or shop. Buy something. What was the purchasing process like? How was the customer service?

When you receive your item, how is it packaged and delivered? What information is included with the product? Any interesting hangtags or clothing labels?

Use the item. Jot down your observations about the product itself. Is it good quality? Does it fit well? Is it well designed? What details does it include? Does it wear and wash well?

What did you love about the entire experience? What do you think could be better? All of these factors should influence what you choose to do with your own fashion business.

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This article is from the free online course:

How to Build a Sustainable Fashion Business

Creative Skillset

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