The Customer is King When Building a Brand In a Crowded Market, Experts Say

In a saturated fashion market, connecting with the consumer is crucial for success — and it’s more challenging than ever before.

On Wednesday night, at a Klarna’s Smoooth Sessions: Trailblazers event in New York City, leading industry figures discussed how brands can better stand out from competitors.

“It has never, ever, ever been easier to start a business than it is right now,” said Ben Fischman, CEO at M.Gemi. “By default, that means that it has never, ever, ever been harder to build a brand; a brand and a business are completely different things.”

While digital platforms such as Shopify can be leveraged by anyone looking to sell product, shifting consumer behavior has led shoppers to expect more than just function from the brands they support.

Jake Kassan, co-founder and president of watch brand MVMT, highlighted the importance of telling a brand story that the customer can relate to, particularly for digitally native brands, in order to foster loyalty.

Likewise, the panelists agreed on the value of data and technology in creating a strong relationship with customers. They agreed that social media, frequently a source of aspirational content that borders on unattainable, can be used as an outlet to convey more authentic and intimate brand messaging. Joan Smalls attributed part of Fenty’s success as a trailblazer to the company’s consistent communication of inclusivity.

Data captured throughout the customer’s e-commerce shopping journey can also provide insight into the consumer experience and pinpoint areas to improve. Fischman and Kassan addressed the importance of being willing to adapt retail strategies to better please the customer, with customer service a valuable opportunity to turn dissatisfied consumers into loyal ones.

“We’ve been around for six years now, so it hasn’t been long enough to have the issue of trying to reinvent ourselves,” said Kassan. “But that is something that we try to instill in our culture in general: How do you consistently reinvent yourself and be disruptive?”

The emphasis on the consumer is expected to continue and to shape future developments in the industry.

Klarna CMO David Sandström predicted that entertainment will become a dominant feature of successful retail, whether in the form of gamified shopping apps or influencer livestreams.

For Fischman, eliminating consumer friction points — such as printed return labels — will be a priority.

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