The most important question to ask when starting your fashion line isn’t about your collection or your designs. “Who is your customer?” is the critical element that businesses need to answer. Your fashion line won’t appeal to everyone because it’s not possible to meet the needs of every single kind of consumer. Instead, it’s wise to clearly understand which segment of the market you’re targeting and understand their unique needs, likes and dislikes.
Understand the Importance of a Fashion Customer Profile
A fashion customer profile helps clothing businesses to create products that their target market will want to purchase. By researching their customers, businesses can understand the kind of clothing in which they are interested, what price they are willing to pay, where they shop and the kind of messages to which they respond.
With this information in hand, your fashion house can create a product line that successfully appeals to the market. Use a customer profile template that includes:
- Demographic qualities such as age and gender
- Geographic location such as city and climate
- Behavioral aspects such as brand loyalty
- Psychographic traits such as attitude and lifestyle
Develop a target customer profile for each fashion line by conducting market research and having your prospects fill out surveys. You can also review trend forecasts to understand what is popular in the market. Be sure to look at your competitors’ customers. If your competitors sell similar clothing, then their customers may share similar traits to your ideal customers.
Research Your Customers’ Demographics
The most basic information you need to know about your customers is their demographics. This includes:
- Race and ethnicity
- Sexual orientation
- Social status
- Family status
These details inform the kind of clothes and accessories in which your customers will be interested. Consider a customer who is a 60-year-old male. He will likely need outfits that are much different from a 16-year-old female. Knowing these fundamental details about your target customer will help you ascertain their needs and wants. That information is critical to developing a fashion line that will interest your target market.
Figure Out Their Geographic Location
Where your customers live affects the kind of clothes they purchase. When looking at your target customers' geographic information, it’s important to know:
- The city, state or country in which they live
- The kind of climate in which they live
- The population of their area
- The size of their area
For example, someone who lives in a predominantly warm climate will not have a need for parkas and leather gloves, whereas someone who lives in a predominantly cold climate may not want to purchase shorts and tank tops. Similarly, someone who lives in a big city may dress differently than someone who lives in the countryside.
Your customers’ location also affects where you will sell your fashion line. This is particularly important if you have a brick-and-mortar store. It needs to be easy for your customers to access your clothes. If you’re selling online, your customers need to live in an area to which it is easy to ship.
Delve Into Your Customers’ Psychographic Traits
Psychographic characteristics are related to the kind of lifestyle your customer lives. These include:
If you sell sports clothing, for example, you’ll need to target customers who play sports and value health and wellness. On the other hand, if you create clubwear, you will want to target customers who like to go out to bars and clubs and value socializing with their friends. The interests of your customers determine their needs and wants as well.
The values, attitudes and opinions your customers share may determine whether they shop at your business or not. For someone who values environmental sustainability, shopping at a business that uses recycled packaging or materials may be important. For someone who is a champion of LGBTQ+ rights, it may be important to shop at businesses who share these values. This information not only tells you what kind of clothes to create but also how to market them to your audience.
Learn Their Behavioral Characteristics
Behavioral traits are related to the way consumers behave toward a brand or product. This may include:
- What benefits the customers are looking for in a fashion line
- How loyal they are to certain brands
- Whether they have purchased from your company before
- How often they plan on wearing your clothes
- How ready they are to make a purchase
- Whether there is any urgency toward making a purchase
If you’re targeting people who plan on wearing your outfits on a daily basis, you may be able to assume that they are willing to pay a higher price than someone who only wants to wear your outfit once. Similarly, someone who is loyal to a brand will respond to different messaging than someone who has never heard of your brand.
Readiness to buy and urgency are important traits to understand. If your customers are not ready to make a purchase, it will affect the length of their buying cycle. If your customers only make a purchase when there is a sale, for example, you will need to center your promotional tactics around that trait. Urgency can be created by informing your customers about what they are missing when they don’t make the purchase right away.
Personify Your Customer
Once you have reviewed available market research and conducted your own surveys, distill all those details in a customer profile. It’s important to humanize your customers by giving them names and drawing images of them. Include all of the target market details on your customer profile and then fill in the gaps with educated guesses based on what you already know.
For example, if your target market is women age 30 to 45 who have a family with young children and work at a high-stress job outside the home, you can safely assume that they are pressed for time.
They don’t want to buy clothes they have to steam or iron or have to take to the dry cleaners. They want to purchase clothes that can be washed and dried easily at home and put on without worrying about wrinkles. They need outfits that they can wear to work and wear to the park with their kids without stressing about having to take special care of their clothes.
Develop a Marketing Plan to Reach Your Target Customer
Once you have a completed ideal customer profile worksheet, it’s important to apply it to your strategic marketing plan. The fundamental aspect of marketing is the marketing mix, which includes:
- Product: Based on your profile, what kinds of clothes do your customers need and want?
- Price: How much can your customers afford to pay? How much are they willing to pay?
- Place: Where do your customers shop for clothes? What is the easiest way they can purchase your clothes?
- Promotion: To what promotional channels do your customers pay attention: advertising, sales promotions, direct marketing, personal selling or public relations? To what kind of messaging will they respond?
By answering these questions using the target customer profile you created, you can begin to develop a strategic marketing plan that will effectively grab the attention of your consumers and persuade them to purchase your clothes. Whenever you need to make an important decision about your fashion business, go back to your target customer profile to determine for what your prospects are looking.
- Depending on its range, your fashion line may benefit from compiling multiple target customer profiles. For example, a line that markets clothing, shoes and handbags could have a different target audience for each product line within the larger fashion brand. If your data suggests this is true, separate your target audience profiles for each product category.
- Do not write your target customer profile based on old data or incomplete data. If necessary, invest more time and money on research and customer data gathering through surveys and focus groups before compiling your report. A report based on new data provides a more accurate picture of your current customer base, especially if your line is still emerging and establishing its identity in the fashion world.
Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.