Apparel Industry Marketers to Change Strategy

Consumers have begun to shop for apparel again. But some apparel categories are doing better than others. And consumers are also showing a preference for specific channels, such as online. In addition, the cost of some raw materials and production will soar this year. All of these changes suggest that marketers will be seek to reposition apparel.

Total apparel sales grew 1.9% in 2010, reaching a total of $192.7 billion, according to NPD. Particularly bright spots in the market included menswear which recorded a 3.3% increase. These days consumers seem to be more interested in buying apparel that stays hidden. For example, women’s shape-​wear and men’s long leg briefs are some of the fastest growing categories. And NPD analysts also point out that while outlet malls did well in apparel sales, the online sector for adult apparel grew nearly 10%.

Marshal Cohen chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc., says “ I don't think that the days of consumers going into a physical store are over, but I do think that retailers have to improve the in-​store experience and ‑find ways to complement the online experience."

A related report on Just-​Style indicates that retailers are emerging from years of belt tightening in the bricks and mortar channel. Analyst Leonie Barrie indicates that more retailers are first experimenting with a fashion concept online. Operators promote their concepts via apps to both smartphones and tablet computers. If the strategy proves successful, retailers may then be confident enough to invest in a bricks and mortar operation.

At the same time, the supply chain has changed significantly in the apparel industry. Most experts expect the cost of cotton to rise so retailers may start marketing apparel made of less expensive alternatives.  And because so much of the supply chain has been outsourced to China, analysts worry that currentcy fluctuations and trade disputes will lead to increased production costs.

Apparel marketers will likely advertise new fashions and concepts in both online and offline media formats. They may also introduce new trendy new fabrics to replace cotton.

[Sources: Barrie, Leonie. 12 Industry Trends facing apparel firms in 2011. Just​-Style​.com. 7 Feb. 2011. Web. 15 Feb. 2011; NPD Reports on the U.s. Apparel Market. NPD​.com. 10 Feb. 2011. Web. 16 Feb. 2011] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.