Before starting to talk about how to prepare the collection plan, we should take a moment to reflect on which are the main fundamentals, that identify a brand its strategy to be successfully on the market:
For a brand already existing on the market, the typical customer is certainly already well defined.
The purpose of a good plan is to improve more and more the collection merchandising and provide indications to increase the performance of the brand.
In this case, the elements to be included in a good collection plan, are already well known. Instead, when we have to create a new brand, one of the first essential feature to be exactly defined, is the type of “buyer personas” we want to address. It must be clear which is the customer we think should show interest in our product.
This clearly entails the description of the characteristics of the buyer personas.
We have to identify the traits that describes him / her: age, gender, education, family, place of residence, type of work, salary, personal interests, lifestyle habits, values.
This part clearly concerns the designers and it’s closely linked to the previous point.
Even the style must follow the line that is designed for the “buyer personas”.
The opposite is true a well: as certain kind of style attracts a certain kind of “buyer personas”.
In the first scenario we are talking about a collection with more strictly commercial characteristics and the designers, also following fashion trends and social inputs, must always keep in mind the final customer as a guide.
The collection must therefore includes those style/products suitable to satisfy the characteristics and needs of our “buyer personas”.
The second case concerns collections where the style very much reflects the personality and creative ideas of the designer him/her self.
In a more strong collection like this one, the designers accent will be above all the main features, and the needs of a potential typical customer is less important.
Indeed, the customer will take shape precisely by the commercial skimming given by the strong stylistic connotation.
A collection plan must also take into consideration the so-called specialization of a brand’s product.
In general, a clothing line can be defined:
– generalist (total look including the various product categories and for a non-specific use)
– specialized generalist (single product for a non-specific use; e.g. knitwear collection for every day use);
– specialized (total-look or single product but designed for a specific use; e.g. trekking shoes, prom dresses etc…).
Therefore the product specialization being a peculiar characteristic of the brand, has to be defined together with the two points discussed above.
Another essential element to be decided, if the collection is not already on the market, is the average price of the various products and the balance among their prices.
The price of the products must be perfectly in line with the value we think the products themselves may have.
This value is not only given by tangible factors such as the quality of manufacture or the quality of the used raw materials, but also by intangible factors such as the level of style and the potential strenght of the brand itself.
Deciding the right average price for a newly distributed collection, it is always not an easy exercise.
Very often there is a misalignment between the perception of value by those who manage a collection and the customer it is intended for.
The correct study of the buyer personas and the right perception of the style / product level, together in line with distribution strategy, allows to identify the most suitable average price level to have a valid commercial feedback.
The average price of the various products must serve as a guide for the products development and therefore for the selection of the materials and the making processes to be used.
The way to enter into the market it’s also, even more, a key factor to have the brand’s sales success, nowadays. The distribution strategy must be in line with the collection/product, style and average price. If not well aligned with the others main collections features, might harm the whole project.
First of all you have to choose if you want to distribute the brand through traditional stores or to rely on online stores. Obviously, being able to have a multi-channel distribution, it allows a wider commercial penetration. In both cases, you must first decide which market or markets to start selling the brand from.
Traditional shops can be reached with agents or fairs and preferably with a sales area manager.
Both sales exhibitions or agents must have a customers/products level consistent with the brand.
An excellent agent or an important fair may not necessarily be the ideal choice.
It is compulsory that they are in tune with the brand. For a good online distribution it is also important to choose platforms with the same philosophy of the brand.
The most popular e-shops might not be always the right place to be on.