Both small and big businesses need to adopt a ‘quick on their feet’ mindset.
The time ahead is challenging yet full of opportunities for Fashion and Lifestyle business. As businesses plan to reopen, it will be a year of awakening for the lifestyle sector that is looking towards picking up the pace and strategizing its marketing outlook as per the evolving needs of the consumers.
It is needless to say that the pandemic has dramatically altered consumer spending behaviors across segments. Also, travel and tourism restrictions have further resulted in a loss for some of the leading Fashion and Luxury brands across the globe.
As the trends indicate, there are two significant questions that all brand marketers need to ponder upon: Firstly, how to strategize their communication and tailor it as per the situation. Secondly, what changes can be anticipated in the consumer behavior due to a prolonged lockdown.
Both small and big businesses need to adopt a ‘quick on their feet’ mindset; one that is driven by innovation, socio-economic accountability and a sustainable outlook to rebuild the global economy.
The threshold of new technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning can be directly linked to consumer shifts influenced by factors like convenience, ease to purchase and the potential disruption from geopolitical and macroeconomic events.
Here are a few trends that will play a vital role in defining fashion and lifestyle trade in the post COVID era:
Rise of AI powered companies: Advanced robots that can recognise objects and handle tasks that previously required humans will promote the operation of factories and other facilities. AI-enabled platforms will help companies simulate better live work environments and create on-demand labor forces. Through Machine Learning and advanced data analytics, AI will help companies detect new consumption patterns and deliver “hyper-personalised” products to online customers. The most successful and ready to use cases will be those that seamlessly combine AI with human judgment and experience.
Shift to digital shopping through advanced immersive technologies: Virtual, Augmented Reality, Mixed and Extended Reality are some existing technologies, the potential of which have not been harnessed by companies so far. The growing presence of consumers on E-commerce platforms is forcing companies to rethink their digital strategies.
Companies are now focusing on their online assortment, enhanced user experience, digital marketing through advanced immersive technologies. They are developing to offer a physical store experience on a digital platform.
Remote ways of working will become the new normal: Some of the massive shift to remote work due to the pandemic may be temporary. But much of it will persist as more people experience the benefits of avoiding hour-long commutes and more managers find they can work effectively from home. The flexible working arrangements and on-demand labor models associated with the so-called gig economy will become more common. Companies will come up with innovative ways of engaging human resources to mitigate the risk of further disruptions and remain competitive at the same time.
Environmental and Sustainability consciousness: Consumers’ concern about sustainability and social issues is set to continue, consolidating the importance of environmental and social governance. Enlightened brands should rethink the end-to-end product life cycle, supply chain management and disposal of unsold stock to grow further.
Belief in Local Pride: During COVID-19 most of the nations have understood their dependency on China. We already have started seeing how countries are preparing themselves towards self-sustaining economies. One of the best examples is the Atma Nirbhar Bharat programme started by India amid uncertainties brought by the pandemic. The businesses across sectors are expected to go through a dramatic transformation under the programme in the coming years.
Supply Chain: As the network of retailers and distributors gets stronger with businesses trying to thrive in a more competitive world, there will be new trends in the supply chain. Due to uncertainty people would move towards having a shorter and more efficient supply chain so that the reaction time is much faster. The move could be towards a shorter and smaller inventory and reorder cycle.
There is certainly a need to maximize brand resilience and transform the value proposition and business model for the future. Luxury businesses can lessen the gravity of today’s threat by carefully opting for the right approach that can help accelerate eventual recovery. How quickly and smoothly they are able to adapt to the situation will totally depend on the brand’s ability to respond and cater to the short term urgencies posed by COVID-19 while concurrently planning and executing for the future.
The writer is Head of Department for School of New Age Business with Pearl Academy. He holds Masters in Business Administration (Marketing and HR) and also MA in English Literature. He has around 20 years of experience in Fashion, Retail, Education, and Academics. He has extensive experience in corporate and has worked in many countries in SouthEast Asia, Africa and Latin America in the field of Fashion Retailing, Education and Academics. He is also a part of the prestigious World Skill Expert faculty group in the field of Visual Merchandising and also National Expert of same trade for World Skills from India. He likes to use his experience and expertise to optimize a goal congruent behavior with a balance trade off between management skills, people skills and self developed attitude. He likes to have a strong focus on people so as to make everyone achieve the best that she/he can achieve.
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