Meet the new consumer demand
The connectedness that has empowered consumers can in turn empower companies to meet their demands. Take companies like Uniqlo that are spearheading connected, personalized shopping experiences with AI-powered bots, or French fashion-tech leader Heuritech, applying state-of-the-art AI image recognition technology to social media: these leaders are using technology to create holistic fashion experiences that meet the new consumer demand for connectedness. In this market context of boundaries blurred into non-existence, “omnichannel” is no longer a buzzword: it is a requirement for remaining relevant in today’s market. The contemporary consumer needs to be engaged at every level. And this constant engagement needs fuel, which means novelty. We’re talking about freshness that includes personalization at every touch point. It’s a tall order but being able to fulfill it makes the difference between those harnessing the full potential of today’s technology—the successful frontrunners—and those whose digital denial is leaving them out in the cold.
Understanding the Informed and Connected Consumer
Besides delivering relevant products, consumers expect companies to recognize them for the individuals they are; where fashion companies once dictated trends, consumers now expect to be the ones discovering or co-creating them. And they have a new way of approaching fashion purchases and companies: they expect to be able to buy that pair of jeans the minute they hear about it. Consumers now look to Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and a host of other online platforms for shopping inspiration, where they used to look to print and TV advertisements. In many cases, consumers have become co-creators, raising their voices to suggest or veto aspects of design through this ongoing conversation. These social networks create a space for consumers—current, past, and potential—to share information, reviews, and opinions.
This shift from one-way blanket communication to dynamic interaction is both intimidating and insightful: it puts the consumer in the driver’s seat but also gives companies an unprecedented level of insight into purchasing behavior, instantly. This constant feedback is what provides the information necessary to adapt, revise, and remix styles to remain competitive and relevant to the conversation—as well as the constant pressure to do so.
As technology opens up new possibilities for enhancing the shopping experience, social has emerged as an important force in shaping omnichannel brand presence. According to a 2018 survey conducted by GPShopper and corresponding report, titled “The Reality of Shopper Motivation,” 69% of consumers are likely to shop on social media in the future decade. But despite the exciting potential of social, a balance must be struck between digital and physical touch points: it’s nearly impossible to sustain online attention without engaging other aspects of the shopping experience.
Consumers may turn to social media for opinions and advice, to seek inspiration from influencers they admire or brands they like, but they still expect brickand-mortar experiences and/or live interactions to anchor their experience and relationship with fashion companies.