This Is How Brands Should Navigate a Tough Retail Climate

You’ve heard it here — and everywhere else, most likely: The consumer landscape has altered drastically and will continue to evolve for fashion and footwear brands in the coming seasons.

At a presentation on Thursday at the annual Accessories Council Summit in New York, Don Unser, group president of retail at The NPD Group Inc., shared a few pieces of sage advice for business leaders on how to maximize the potential opportunities in the marketplace and how to mitigate risk.

1. Follow the customer

“The consumer is changing where they buy product and how they experience brands. Watch your customers closely to see when they migrate to a different shopping platforms, and as they migrate, get there early before your competitors and double down,” said Unser.

2. Choose stores wisely

“We’re starting to see brands become more deliberate about where they distribute, but this is going to become increasingly important,” said Unser, who added that he hopes to see retailers begin to court brands more than they have in the past.

3. Be an all-around innovator

Unser emphasized that innovation should be a priority for more than product development — it should be in regard to marketing, communication or distribution. “Be innovative in the way you go to market,” he said.

4. Prepare for financial uncertainty

While the U.S. economy is currently booming, recent reports have found that inflation is on the rise. The Federal Reserve aims to raise interest rates multiple times in 2019 to stave off increases, but if the Fed’s efforts are unsuccessful and inflation becomes rampant, it would wreak havoc on businesses. Unser’s suggestion: “Know what your strategy will be if inflation does get to 3 or 4 percent. Look back at what worked in the past.”

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