In the last few years, we have seen a boom in local fashion and beauty brands. Consumers are looking for something different--something they don’t find in every mall, something that isn’t worn by every person. In addition to consumers, social media influencers have shown an interest in and support for local brands, like Huda Beauty.
Understand Your Market and Your Competition
In order to stay ahead of competitors, you can use Porter’s 5 Forces model to analyze your business.
- Competitive Rivalry
o Who are your competitors? How do their products compare to your products?
- Supplier Power
o Is it easy to find suppliers? Will it be costly for you to switch to another supplier?
- Buyer Power
o Can buyers control your prices? Are they only willing to buy your products for a certain price? Do they have other alternatives to choose from?
- Barriers to Entry
o How easy is it for new competitors to start a similar business? How easy would it be for them to copy you?
- Threats of Substitution
o How likely is it that your customers could substitute your products with different products? If competitors reveal new products, then your customers won’t need your products any longer.
Common sense will tell you that you need to identify your target market first. I tend to agree, but when it comes to local beauty and fashion brands, sometimes you need to test your product in the market first in order to see which customer segment will buy from you. For example, my own perfume brand was originally intended for women from 27 to 50 years old. But I have had 17-year-olds buy my perfumes, as well as 65-years-olds and all ages in between. I also initially targeted my perfumes to women only, but retailers advised me that the current trend is to have unisex perfumes; since one of my perfumes was strong and suitable for men and women, I decided to sell it to both genders. You will mostly learn about your customers after launching your products in the market. With that in mind, let’s move on to the next point: Start SMALL.
You have worked hard on your brand, and you have finally received your inventory. Now, you want to tell the world about it. Be careful. You really need to test the market and your prices first. If this is not your first venture in creating your own brand—in other words, if you are sure of your prices and customer engagement—then you can ignore this advice and go big. For most first-time brand founders, you can test the products with one or two retailers with minimal marketing (for about 2-3 months) and see if people are willing to pay the price you set. Joining local exhibitions is another good way to engage with customers and listen to their observations about your brand. Don’t take any negative criticism personally. After testing your product, you can then determine whether your prices should be increased or lowered. Once you have decided on the price, you can go bigger and target more retailers to start selling your local brand.
Differentiating your brand
The appetite for fashion and beauty in the region is tremendous. Consumers are willing to buy local brands, but you need to ensure that your customers actually need your products. I always remember not to blame the customers if they are not buying my product. It is my responsibility to sell something they need and are willing to spend money on. Suppose you want to launch your own make-up brand. First, think of your customers. Are you a well-known makeup artist who has a customer base waiting for you to launch your own brand? If not, why would customers want to purchase your brand? Maybe it’s the packaging that attracts their attention. Or perhaps you want to create a cruelty-free and vegan makeup line, which is all the rage at the moment. Similarly, if you want to launch your line of traditional dresses, you need to think beyond the design. What is your label telling your customers? Does it make them feel empowered?
Social Media Influencers
Four years ago, if you launched your own brand and paid a decent amount of money to a social media influencer, you could guarantee some sales. In fact, some brands even used to
sell out their products. That situation is changing, though, so I wouldn’t advise you to rely only on social media influencers. You need to gain the customers’ trust and be authentic. The more you understand what your customers want, the more you will be able to sell.