INNOVATING TO SURVIVE
“How to win the never ending battle (every season) to avoid to become a commodity “
We live in a complex world where people usually blame about crisis and a constant contraction of macro economic scenarios. In Italy, the manufacturing and the textile market is perceived to be in perpetual crisis since almost thirty years and if you talk to insiders and old entrepreneurs they will answer, for sure, that “the golden age of textile is passed away”.
Nevertheless, there are some textile industrial reality that despite the crisis, despite the increasingly fierce competition of our “neighbors” on the Mediterranean shore and from the Far East, despite the rising costs of raw materials and the labor costs, have distinguished themselves, and thrived and are still considered true excellences worldwide.
You’ll wonder how it is possible?
There are many assets that determine the success or failure of a company over time, including the structure of the company itself, the relocation and outsourcing strategies, the inter generational shifting, and so on. In this article i will focus on my field of knowledge that is marketing andI’ll tell two factors that I think can really make a difference to achieve success.
You have to be a “focused company” and to stop doing “everything for everyone”, starting to seek a market niche and become specialized, as an authority, becoming an expert.
This is the famous law of focus theorized by one of the greatest living marketers of all time Al. Ries. The time of the generalist industries is over. If you scroll through the list name of the companies that have closed for failure or bankrupt, you will sadly discover that most of them were generalists and produced so many things that was impossible to be successful and competitive with all of them. As the saying goes, “if you want to please everyone none will be satisfied” and that’s completely true.
The second thing is innovation: “Innovate to survive”. This is the hard truth inspired by the law of evolution of species by Charles Darwin. Like the dinosaurs, that could not be able to evolve, your company might not survive if it fails to innovate . You had to propose in every collection something unique and inimitable that convinces the customer to buy from you, despite from your competitors, and that you are exactly what he or she is looking for.
Then you can also sell 95% of standard production, the basic things, but the customer needs to have(every time he need to buy something) a good reason to buy from you, that 5% of special fabrics/garments that probably will not make you rich, but you convince him that you have that something more, and that you are the one who knows the trends and an innovator too.
If you are perceived as a commodity, the battle will always be on the price and I assure you it is a losing battle, especially for medium and small industries.
Probably now you are thinking “the innovation is expensive”, “we always do basic things” “I do not want to have too many fabrics in warehouse” “How can I be innovative?”.
Probably, in your company does not even exist a marketing department, and most of the time are the people from the salesforce to communicate the value proposition of your company through your products. Initially i had this problem, I was selling chemical products for fashion fabrics with a gain of few cents per Kg and it was a losing battle, because chemicals are all perceived as a commodity and without thinking about the other side of the coin “the fashion side” was impossible to have a dialogue with designers and product manager and everything else happening downstream. And so it was born the Liberty 4 Fashion.
I am Corrado Manenti and I deal with marketing, what is my job? In two words, I “create” and “communicate” value. Sometimes it’s hard to explain what we do, because in fact we are the only ones that do it. My regular customer is a company that produces fabrics or garments, third parties who finds themselves in a punitive and hyper competitive market where the big brands dictate the rules and it is difficult or almost impossible to compete for the price.
How to do it? I take basic fabrics which are already in stock or in the current collections of customers and i transform them in fashion fabrics with added value. This can be done with printing and coating techniques that guarantee a great versatility and especially the possibility of infinite technical and color combinations. It’s clean and simple: I take your fabrics, transform them, i give them back to you with the proper marketing based presentation so that you and your agents can present them effectively to your customers. As I said before, It will be pointless to propose something that in addition to the “wow” effects not consistent with the trends of the moment and respecting the language of fashion, and that’s why our team is made up of a large number of professionals, each with their own skills.
This approach is the only one possible innovation and also one of the cheapest: you can transform a cheap tissue in a special fabric, all without fill your the warehouse with new bases , without having to manage the logistics of the press and finishing, without even worry about expensive fashion consultants or mysterious trend books.
You may not even have a style office in your productive reality and be perceived over time as a true fashion innovator and trend setter, because the real battle to make your customers buy from you and not from your competitors (even before go out to the market) has to been won in the prospect’s mind.
[Fell free to quote o to write to me for any suggestion on topics for the next blog post. If you liked the article join our newsletter ;)]