October 19, 2018
In an industry that is highly driven by what’s hot and new, it’s important to understand your market and determine which assortments are worth investing in. But it’s easier said than done, especially in an extremely volatile environment with a generation of consumers who are equally fickle-minded and constantly seeking the next best thing.
So how do you know which assortments will bode well for your business? By monitoring the performances of specific trends and product categories over time to ensure you invest only in products that consumers are actually looking for. We cover 3 key considerations you should keep in mind the next time you’re planning your assortment.
Identify and validate top-performing trends from fads
Building an assortment in an industry with ever-changing trends is challenging, as it can be tough to separate top-performing trends from fads that run its course in a short span of time. From designers’ creations straight off the runway to what the latest influencers and celebrities are posting on social media, the understanding of what’s ‘trending’ isn’t always so straightforward. Therein lies the issue.
Identifying a trend is only half the equation. Validating it makes the other and is arguably the more important half when it comes to attaining sales and profits. Introducing a particular product into your assortment with a baseless assumption that it will sell could potentially lead to plenty of dead stocks at the end of the season.
So how do you validate if a trend truly one that’s selling?
The pineapple print trend is a good example. Fruit prints dominated the Summer 2018 fashion scene, as the print coincides with the season’s tropical theme. There was a steady rise between Q1 and Q2 of 2018 as brands and retailers prepared for summer. The pineapple print, in particular, was a favourite and was the most widely stocked, especially in the Tops category. You can also get a better visual overview of how brands and retailers incorporated the fruity print into their collection.
Examples of best-selling pineapple print tops from ASOS, Nasty Gal and The Iconic
Three of the products above were some of the bestselling tops across the market, uncoincidentally in styles fit for the hot weather: off-shoulder, loose fitting and in breathable materials.
Here, while we’ve identified the trend and how it looks like, the next part is validating it. To further visualise the popularity of the pineapple print trend, here’s a drilldown of the ASOS pineapple print shirt, as depicted in the first image above.
The ASOS PETITE Blouse in Pineapple Print has gone out-of-stock 3 times and replenished at least 6 times from January to September this year. From the analysis above, it is clear that the trend wasn’t just a one-hit-wonder, and was indeed a bestseller. With this practice, not only will you be able to search for trends that may be of most interest to your market, but you will also be able to plan bestselling assortments based on top performers, rather than fads.
Strategise for declining trends
Top performing trends are one thing, declining ones are an entirely different issue. When it comes to planning your next collection, understanding the performance of trends over a specific timeline is crucial. Trends shift quickly so knowing which stage a particular trend is at in its life cycle will help you determine your next steps. In this case, if a trend is declining, you can immediately start hashing out the best exit strategy without resorting to high discounts.
Suede tops are an example of a declining trend, as the once popular item has been slowly losing its prominence within the span of a few months.
As shown in the graph above, suede tops were popular at the beginning of Q2 but started declining towards the end of the timeline.
In this case, there are three scenarios:
- If you are still in the planning stage of your assortment: determine if this is still worth the investment by the time you launch your collection. If not, it is probably best to look toward a trend that is moving upwards.
- If this particular trend is already in its production phase: look towards pricing strategies and perhaps lower its entry price.
- If you are currently stocking this: start clearance early at an optimum discount range to ensure profits.
Understanding this is crucial to help you avoid investing in a trend or product assortment that is tapering off in popularity.
Establish the right cross-market assortments
Knowing your market is essential but it gets increasingly complex when you want to target other regions. No two markets are the same, so being able to firstly understand how certain trends perform in different markets will allow you to identify what your customers are looking for so you can accurately meet their demands. This is especially helpful if you’re expanding to new markets.
Zara, a popular brand available in multiple regions, is a great example. Focusing on Thailand and Taiwan alone, there are already distinct differences in trending categories and colours, even with both based in the Asian region.
Category trend overview in Zara Thailand
Category trend overview in Zara Taiwan
While both had the same top uptrending category, the rest bore more differences than similarities. For Zara Thailand, pieces such as Pants & Leggings, Tops and Accessories were on a rise – with most of the styles leaning towards working attire. This could be an indication of demographic preferences, as the company could be targeting working adults with steady income.
Zara Taiwan, on the other hand, was making way for colder months ahead, with most of their thick outerwear on display. Shorts and Pants & Leggings were on a decline as well, since the materials for everyday wear on Zara would not fit the cold weather.
Colour trend overview in Zara Thailand
Colour trend overview in Zara Taiwan
In Zara Thailand, there were no downtrending colours, only an increase in monotone colours like brown, grey and black. This is aligned with its target audience, since working attires are often mostly in plain colours. In stark contrast, the colour palette in the other region was more experimental.
Zara Taiwan saw big declines in colours, with top colours such as pink, purple and orange going down in SKU numbers. On the uptrending side, besides the usual evergreen colours, yellow-green was seeing a rise. This could be in line with the fall season in Taiwan, where earthy colours are preferred. Top colours here drastically change from season to season, and this time around, perhaps the customers in Taiwan were less receptive to bright hues.
With just these two examples, it’s clear that fully knowing market preferences across different regions is very important. By analysing cross-market trends, you can then adjust your assortments with the right styles accordingly to maximise gains.
The Right Trend, At The Right Time
The 3 key considerations listed above allow you to capitalise on growing trends, avoid declining ones and react accordingly in real-time.
Identify and validate top performing trends from fads – Determine if viral trends are really performing by seeing its sellout rates and replenishments.
Strategise for declining trends – Avoid trends that are losing prominence and if it’s already in your assortment, plan your exit strategy that still maximises returns.
Establish the right cross-market assortments – Expand to new markets by ensuring you fully understand the target market well.
To know more about the styles that were trending this year, click here to download our free extensive report: Reviewed: Bestsellers by key categories in SEA.