Before you get to work on your new fashion brand, make sure creating a competitive matrix is one of the first things you do. So what’s a competitive matrix? It’s a tool to help you determine your competitive advantage by establishing where else your shoppers may turn to and where your brand stands among the competition. Your competitive matrix paints a clear picture of the market so you’ll have evidence-supported insights to support strategies ranging from pricing to where to produce your goods.
No Brand Is Without Competition
It may be difficult for a lot of brand owners to believe, but you always have competition. Just consider all of the vast possibilities of where potential customers’ dollars could go if not with your brand. On a more general scale, that can mean anything from money spent on household purchases and vacations. When it comes to fashion, that can mean buying more accessories instead of adding your latest ready-to-wear (RTW) pieces to their collections.
Dig a little further and you’ll see closer competitors. Which brands are marketing to the same people you will? Which have items of a similar lifestyle, aesthetic or categories? Comparable price points?
Be realistic. Consumers’ dollars are limited. Shoppers only have so much money to spend. It’s also crucial to honestly assess the market- so you can develop more accurate pricing and smarter assortment planning.
Who Are Your Competitors, and Where Can You Find Them?
Now that we’ve established who qualifies as your competition, which brands immediately come to mind? Add those to a fresh spreadsheet and get started on your competitive matrix. Next, do some research online to add several more names to the list.
So how will you find them? Envision your target customers. Where do they currently shop and which brands are they wearing? Which ecommerce shops do they frequent? Visit these websites and the websites of others you find that happen to carry these brands. These sites will expose you to even more competition and they’ll highlight key adjacent brands.
What Are Adjacent Brands?
Adjacent brands are those that could be merchandised alongside your products in stores, i.e. the RTW line that would be marketed with your shoe designs in a store because you have the same or a similar target customer. Create a special section for adjacent brands. They can include everything from skincare to accessories to shoes. We’ll get back to those later.
Gathering the Research for Your Competitive Matrix
Do in-store research, look up competitors online, and speak with potential customers. Find out what they’re buying and where they’re shopping via conversations and/or surveys.
You’ll discover key data like price points, product categories and distribution. Add all of this data to your spreadsheet. The price points will paint price ranges to help with your future pricing strategy. The product categories will show what you have to offer compared to what’s out there in the market (and may even inspire new categories to introduce). Meanwhile, distribution information will help you determine where you’d like to be sold.
Here is an example of a competitive matrix from a retailer’s perspective. Click on the image to download it from Dropbox.
Putting Your Competitive Matrix to Work
So at a quick glance, your competitive matrix will show you who is selling what types of items, at what price points, and where (online through brands’ own websites, e-commerce multi-brand retailers, brick-and-mortar specialty shops, etc.). If you’re planning to sell wholesale (and you really should), be more specific with the distribution list. This will double as the start of your research into which store buyers to contact for sales.
Finally, research the marketing strategies of the competition and those adjacent brands. See what works and do your due diligence to determine what would make sense to incorporate into your own marketing strategy.
Now you have a clear and comprehensive view of your market you can access at any time. You have the ability to…
- Look for gaps in the market you can fill, or otherwise improve upon what others are currently offering.
- Analyze competitors’ pricing as you strategize your own.
- Build a list of potential wholesale clients.
- Serve as a guide for social media strategy, marketing strategy, assortment planning and decisions on where to produce your line.
You finished most of the work. Just be sure to revisit it for smaller updates in the future. You’ll be adding or removing brands and product categories and updating information on pricing.
Need market research support? We can hone your startup’s brand DNA, messaging, product assortments, pricing strategies and more, through original research, market assessments and high level strategy – tailored to your unique needs. Let’s start with a 30 minute consultation session. Call us at 310-957-5264 or email us at [email protected].