FASHION’S OBSESSION WITH THE NEW CONSUMER
Fashion executives have been scratching their heads about the new consumer behavior for years on end. Thanks to today’s digital technology and social media, consumers have become somewhat enigmatic, lurking online and leaving traces of data behind while shopping, and having a huge say in the way their products are being made. In the world of social media influencers and direct-to- consumer businesses, the fashion hierarchy has undergone an upheaval, and companies no longer dictate the trends. Instead, they find themselves playing a never-ending game of catch-up with their consumers, trying to gather all sorts of data to predict their next moves. Fashion insiders have become completely fixated on the new consumer, without looking at the other side of the equation.
MANAGING UNPREDICTABILITY WITH TECHNOLOGY
What the fashion industry seems to have forgotten, however, is that today’s consumers have become unpredictable, given today’s socioeconomic uncertainty. According to the latest ‘State of Fashion’1 report by McKinsey & Company and Business of Fashion, 42% of survey respondents, mainly fashion executives, expect economic conditions to worsen this year, with rising interest rates around the world and increasingly stringent monetary policies developed by the European Central Bank. While companies are scrambling to understand the new buying behavior of their consumers, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that it is almost impossible to predict or have control over their next purchase decisions, as they are often shaped by external and psychological factors. Rather, what’s within the realm of most companies’ control is how they can gain supply- chain flexibility to get closer to the consumer and meet their needs, no matter what their preferences are and how often they change