Consumers all have different needs and demands that have to be suited. A person's needs change frequently, which is why fashion trends even exist. An important factor to take into consideration when thinking of consumers’ needs is the key demographics of the customer. Gender, age, income, and even profession can help a company better understand the needs of their customers.
For example, a woman who is pregnant could be looking for diapers, baby strollers, and maternity clothes. Her needs would differ greatly from a woman with children that just went off to college or a teen entering high school.
Often consumers need to be told what they want. Fashion companies have to do their research to ensure they know their customers’ needs before developing solutions. Steve Jobs said, "You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You cannot start with the technology and try to figure out where you are going to sell it".
The best way to understand the consumers’ needs and therefore predict fashion trends is through market research. There are two research methods: primary and secondary.
Secondary methods are taking other information that has already been collected, for example using a book or an article for research. Primary research is collecting data through surveys, interviews, observation, and/or focus groups.
Benefits of primary research is specific information about a fashion brand's consumer is explored. Surveys are helpful tools; questions can be open-ended or closed-ended. A negative factor surveys and interviews present is that the answers can be biased, due to wording in the survey or on face-to-face interactions. Focus groups, about 8 to 12 people, can be beneficial because several points can be addressed in depth. However, there are drawbacks to this tactic, too. With such a small sample size, it is hard to know if the greater public would react the same way as the focus group.
Observation can really help a company gain insight on what a consumer truly wants. There is less of a bias because consumers are just performing their daily tasks, not necessarily realizing they are being observed. For example, observing the public by taking street style photos of people, the consumer did not get dressed in the morning knowing that would have their photo taken necessarily. They just wear what they would normally wear. Through observation patterns can be seen, helping trend forecasters know what their target market needs and wants.
Knowing the needs of the consumers will increase a fashion companies’ sales and profits. Through research and studying the consumers’ lives the needs of the customer can be obtained and help fashion brands know what trends the consumers are ready for.