Jaana Jatyri is the Founder & CEO of trend forecasting agency: Trendstop. In her first guest article with WhichPLM she discusses the importance of trend visibility, and how Trendstop tracks emerging trends. Jaana also serves as one of WhichPLM’s Experts.
Can your systems cope when your customers are more on trend than your product teams? Trends change. Quickly. Can your processes adapt in time?
Social media, content marketing, bloggers, IPTV channels – in a world where anyone can set themselves up as a commentator and access free global distribution of their views via social media, there are as many ‘trends’ being cited as there are sources. Many conflict with each other. Some are correct, some of the time. So when it is critical to make correct decisions, how well are you tracking the key trends?
The trend forecasting industry is not regulated, so anyone is able to put on the hat of a trend forecaster and offer their views and services to those who will listen. However, if buying and product development is not in line with what the consumer actually wants to buy, then this will lead to discounting at retail. So, it seems it would make sense to offer the trend aware consumer those products that they will be interested in buying. However, this is often easier said than done. Factor in the cut-throat pace on a typical day at an apparel retail operation, and having enough time to confirm and validate every trend that goes on the shop floor and it starts to sound like an almost impossible task. Yet, if trends are not validated and executed well, they won’t sell. So what is the answer?
Trend is a relative newcomer to the retail scene. This means it is an area where retail industry training and education has traditionally not been focused, and therefore retail professionals are primarily self-taught in their trend knowledge and understanding. In the meantime, trend has become a major factor in the fashion aware consumers’ decision-making process. Logic dictates that it would be vital for retail success to understand a) how trends work and b) how to make them work better for the business. So, how do you get started, you may ask.
It’s a good idea to start from assessing the current situation. First, let’s take a step back to look at how we might measure the success of our trend information and trend execution.
I would always recommend using the one measure that counts: Are the products selling? If reductions need to be applied, we don’t always need to blame the weather. Sometimes, and quite often, the reason for a product not selling can be found in its trend execution. The colour may well have been the perfect shade for the season, but that pattern – so last season!
Because trend cycles and the behaviour of trends are not always well understood in the business, the ‘trend stuff’ is often left to designers to manage. While on one hand designers are typically the best educated when working with and applying trends within the business, on the other, they often have strong creative ties to the trends they choose to back, and optimising the P&L (Profit & Loss) may not always be their main driver.
It is important that design departments drive trend execution, but it would often be beneficial to the business if more departments can engage in the key trend selection process. However, for buying, sales and even marketing to participate, they need to have trend visibility and a thorough understanding of the consumer trend mind-set. In order for the rest of the business to get involved, a better understanding of how fashion trends and trend cycles work is needed, along with independent analysis that can help confirm the decisions and directions being proposed, not just from a current sales figures perspective, but from a forward planning and consumer perspective.
At Trendstop we have developed a unique methodology over the past decade which tracks emerging trends at the trend innovator and early adopter level, and is able to evaluate these trends’ mainstream translation and timing more accurately than other forms of trend forecasting or sales data analysis. We also understand how this intelligence can be integrated effectively into an organisation’s business process for best effect.
Implementation needs to be adjusted for different customers as each business is different, but the key touch points are consistent. As well as providing sales driven global trend analysis and trend translation support, Trendstop offer Strategic Trend Leadership workshops to bring your organisation’s trend understanding to the next strategic level.