Question: I was informed before establishing my fashion-house that sales from output would be automatic. Now I know better, as my outfit is not being patronized to my satisfaction in spite of obvious high quality. I can’t afford to close shop now, hence I am pleading for your tips on how to boost sales – Dorcas O.
I am just visualizing if milling for what yields garments has become extinct in Nigeria. Is the Textile Industry gone
forever? One vividly remembers activities of textile mills in the south eastern part of the country, like the Aba Textile Mills; that in Onitsha which the Chinese took over in the 1970s; so many in the North like the United Textile Mills in Kaduna, and Kano boasting of several mills which employed thousands.
I still wonder about names, in Lagos, like Nigerian Textile Mills, First Spinners, Bhojr, Reliance Textiles, Atlantic Textile, International Textile Industry (ITI) – many now mourn this for shifting to selling cars instead; Afrprint, and of course Aswani, better known for “Aswani Market”, a bustling informal market that operated around the Isolo area of Lagos, only on Tuesdays.
Preceding 1997, the textile industry in Nigeria (with over 250 factories) was the second largest in Africa, after Egypt. I am still wondering about the 100 billion naira Federal Government’s bailout fund to this industry early in 2010. Should we expect President Goodluck Jonathan’s much bandied ‘Transformation programme’ to prevent this government’s gesture from ‘blowing in the wind’ as usual?
It is well known that serial failure of leadership in the past allowed this industry to become comatose, and paved way for high operating costs (unfavourable costs of raw materials and appalling power supply comprising major culprits), smuggling, counterfeiting or faking, and above all disingenuous governments’ commitments to industrialization. Some of us keen watchers are closely monitoring what the present government’s “Agenda for Transformation” will portend for the Textile Industry. Hopefully, businesses which deal in garments or apparels, like Dorcas’ fashion-house, will have cause to say ‘thank you, President Jonathan’ as time goes.
In spite of the fact that a market for clothing must exist (people must conceal their nakedness or appear attractive in one form of apparel/wear or another), there are various factors which influence consumers’ preference for one provider of clothing and not the other, resulting in unfavourable sales for the latter. Identifying these factors, in the light of unsatisfactory patronage, as applicable to you, calls initially for an exercise that would help unravel the reason(s) for what’s going on, and proffer solutions – Marketing Audit. You may request for my earlier write-up titled, “Diagnosis from marketing audit”, for more insight into your expectations from this crucial marketing related exercise.
Meanwhile, without subtly advertising fashion outfits around, many belonging to the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria or FADAN, I can’t help drawing readers’ to internationally acclaimed brands like, Georgio Amani, Gucci, Christian Dior, Tommy Hilfiger, Versace, Jovani, Yves Saint-Laurent, Chanel, etc, as pointers to this subject. Also, to define a fashion-house as “An establishment in which fashionable clothes are designed, made, and sold”. Dorcas, after an initial analysis of your market, consider the following as components of boosting sales:-
I don’t know your brand name, but hope you realise that in fashion branding is essential, as branding philosophy here is unique and often hinged on the creator’s/designer’s personality. Presumably, as the founder of your outfit, have you tried to build your brand name around your personality? Your style is crucial to upholding your brand strategy. An identity linked to you would aid in distinguishing your products from the crowd.
Segmentation and Targeting
Create designs or lines aimed at specific needs of different markets and their fashion statements (e.g. suites for males and females of 35-50 year old bracket; gowns for wives of ‘political heavy weights’; attires for young adults in 18-30 year old group, etc). Connect your brand to gratify different sets of target customers and diverse price levels.
Celebrities or Well-known Personalities
Tie your brand to celebrities (e.g. Nollywood actors, TV presenters, singers and other artistes). As these receive public attention, so are questions being asked about what they’re putting on and you (the designer) being promoted as a result.
A book filled with glossy photos of your works will help. Such, certainly will give potential customers, and even reporters of fashion publications ideas of your creativity.
Has it occurred to you to utilize tools of advertising in order to let more people know of your fashion-house, its designs and lines? If some slots in the local television or radio become unaffordable, what of a classified advertisement in the local press? It could be coloured display ad in a local magazine.
Copies of a flyer (or handbill) may not be out of place, as the complimentary or call card you give has a way of getting around, spreading ‘words’ about your fashion-house.
Fashion Showcase and Events
Work towards activities where people see the unveiling of your lines. Ensure such occasions afford key people in fashion, entertainment and fashion editors, buyers, and potential clients favourable exposure to your products. Has it occurred to you that wearing some of those beautiful dresses, made by your fashion-house, to public functions or events afford opportunities of indirectly ‘showing-off’ your handiwork?
Sociological and Current Trends
Peg lines to trends appealing to current crop of customers (e.g. Nigeria’s president’s dress style; advent of weighty women; popular slogan in town; application of popular terminology in order to catch the attention of target consumers).
Word of mouth, from brand ambassadors, who can communicate effectively with your prospective customers, will help create awareness about your works. These may even wear your designs and also share their positive experience with your brand.
Internet, Website, Blog and Social Media
Apply these as media to help project your creativity. Contents of your ‘Look book’ could come handy as materials here.
Dorcas, try out the above tools and let me know their impact later.
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