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Competitive Strategies in Apparel and Footwear

October 2017

Competition in global apparel and footwear, while already tough, is intensifying as the industry, despite its fragmentation, is increasingly being driven by large companies and retailers benefiting from economies of scale, streamlined business operations, lean supply chains and big data analytics. This briefing aims to shed light on how these driving forces are influencing consumer behaviour and demand, and what strategies apparel and footwear companies are pursuing to remain competitive.

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Competition is intensifying

Fashion giants like Inditex and tech behemoths like Amazon are intensifying competition and shaping apparel and footwear markets globally, as they benefit from economies of scale, lean supply chains and big data analytics. Meanwhile, the digital evolution continues to speed up the pace of change, which permeates throughout the industry.

Consumer behaviour and demand is changing

The frantic pace of the industry is affecting consumer behaviour, with consumers becoming ever more fickle and demanding. Fast fashion has turned the industry into a demand driven one, thanks to its highly responsive supply chains.

Consumer engagement allows companies to anticipate demand

In a demand-driven industry, where product availability quickly shifts to what is highest in demand, competitive strategies need to include consumer engagement, as it allows companies to anticipate and learn preferences and demand first-hand from consumers. Consumer engagement also helps build lasting relationships, which is important in a world where brand loyalty is dwindling.

Strong brand identity allows companies to build lasting relationships

Having a strong brand identity, wherein the actions, communication and portrayal of the brand are reflected by the values that make up its identity will allow companies to connect more easily with likeminded consumers, and subsequently build long lasting relationships.

Openness to continuous adaption allows companies to remain responsive

To capitalise on consumer engagement, companies must strive to remain agile and flexible in order to be responsive to industry and consumer change. This is all the more important given the fast changing nature of trends in apparel and footwear, coupled with the rapid pace of technological advancement and digital developments.

Introduction

Scope
Key findings
Fragmentation and localisation shapes apparel and footwear
The impact of global megatrends
Fast fashion’s influence o n apparel and footwear

Strategic Evaluation: Emerging Markets

Shifting market frontiers and the race to China
Prioritisation of emerging markets differs widely
Emerging markets will continue to shape the future

Strategic Evaluation: Healthy Living

Health as the new wealth...and changing consumer expectations
Sportswear is here to stay

Strategic Evaluation: Lean Supply Chains

Fast fashion 1.0: It’s all about the operations
Fast fashion 2.0: The move online and lead times slashed further

Strategic Evaluation: Tech and Big Data Analytics

Digitalisation of fashion sees tech companies enter the market
Alibaba and Amazon’s lofty fashion ambitions
The future is certainly digital…
… and consequently internet retailing will continue to grow

Strategic Evaluation: Implications

Failure to adapt undermines ability to compete
What does all this mean for brand strategies?
Friends and family still the most influential in marketing

Brand Strategies: Shopping Reinvented

Megatrend: Shopping Reinvented
Tommy Hilfiger: Performing against the odds
Tommy Hilfiger: Fashion immediacy
Supreme: Staying true to its brand identity
The North Face: Selling adventures
The quest for the perfect fit
Fame and Partners: A bold attempt at mass customisation
Universal Standard: Understanding its customers needs

Brand Strategies: Healthy Living

Megatrend: Healthy L iving
Nike: Size no hindrance to grass roots consumer engagement
Lululemon : A community pioneer
Outdoor Voices: A light-hearted take on sportswear

Brand Strategies: Ethical Living

Megatrend: Ethical Living
Patagonia: Brand identity champion
H& M: T he oxymoron of fast fashion and sustainability
Everlane : Shedding light on an dark spot in the industry - Transparency
People Tree: Working with artisans and local communities

Conclusions

Remaining agile, flexible and responsive to consumers is key
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