The fashion industry is an incredibly competitive industry. If you’re an entrepreneur wishing to start up a new company, you are likely to face some harsh contention.
“It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll”, but there are some strategies you can adopt to survive even the most challenging business environments.
We’ve looked at this topic in the past, and in our blog, we’ve already covered 9 simple ways your business can get noticed in a crowded marketplace.
But what if, instead of applying some “tricks of the trade” you were willing to design a whole new strategic approach capable of lifting you above the “Red Oceans” of competition?
Well, you’re in luck, in this post, we’re discussing how to do exactly that by applying the famous Blue Ocean Strategy to your fashion brand.
What is Blue Ocean Strategy
The Blue Ocean Strategy is an approach to the market that allows you to focus on understanding how your company is not simply creating a product or providing a service.
What your company is doing is delivering unique value to the market.
In the context of fashion, the value your brand is offering is functional, social, or emotional.
We discuss this distinction in more depth in this article where we delve into what benefits customers are seeking from your brand.
Looking at the market in terms of what benefits companies are offering to their customers can be a very helpful way for your brand to understand how to market its products and communicate its unique features in a way that perfectly resonates with your customer and the “jobs” they need to get done.
Building on this understanding of customer market behavior, Blue Ocean Strategy encourages entrepreneurs to think about ways in which they can create value innovation.
Value innovation is an approach designed to break out of conventions and tradition by focusing on market pioneering and futurism.
Blue Ocean Strategy, tries to build upon what is a behavioral segmentation of the consumer market and helps us create new value opportunities by applying a 4-fold framework called: Reduce, Create, Eliminate and Raise.
We’re discussing this approach in detail in the next section of our post.
Reduce, Create, Eliminate, Raise
In order to create value innovation, we need to review the processes and the operations that our brand takes for granted and create a new pocket of value - the “Blue Ocean” that allows us to escape from the traditional competition where all firms compete over the same elements and characteristics, or what we call the “Red Ocean”.
So what do these terms indicate? Let’s look at each of these terms individually.
What factors should be reduced well below industry standards?
For example, in the context of fashion sustainability, the CO2 footprint of fashion collections could be reduced to make our brand more sustainable and environmentally friendly. What other factors can be reduced to save resources and put them to better use?
What factors should be created that the industry has never offered?
What additional benefits can we associate with our collection? Can our collection offer more functional benefits, such as modular design? Can we add more social benefits, making a product more luxurious? Can we provide a shopping experience that connects our brand to the customer in a meaningful and memorable way?
What factors, where the industry has long competed on should be eliminated?
Is there a way to eliminate operations that don’t contribute to value creation? What about checkout lines, can you get rid of them by using in-store purchase applications? Can you eliminate issues with sizes by creating more plus-size-friendly clothing? This is what Good American did by developing a collection that takes into account what women really need in terms of their fit and body shape.
What factors should be raised well above industry standards?
What aspects of your brand can be elevated beyond customers’ expectations? Burberry, for instance, re-invented its flagship store to perfectly integrate the physical and digital dimensions of retail and create an omnichannel dimension of shopping.
How Can Your Brand Benefit from Blue Ocean Strategy?
Great. So now that we’ve provided some examples to show what the Blue Ocean Strategy looks like when applied to your fashion brand, we can shortlist the benefits and challenges you can expect from applying this model successfully to your fashion business.
Here are some benefits and limitations.
- Pro. It allows setting your brand on a path of continuous improvement by challenging established practices and conventions.
- Pro. Using value innovation can help you create a marketing mix that perfectly aligns with the product, price, place, and promotion.
- Pro. The strategy is designed to increase your brand value without raising prices. Blue Ocean strategy tries to make that “enhanced” value available to a much broader audience, following the approach of disruptive innovation.
Let’s look at some of the challenges of applying this model.
- Con. It does require a futuristic vision that is not easy to get. The process helps, but ultimately the insight into new untapped markets requires a high-level entrepreneurial vision.
- Con. As with any other innovation, it does not only require strategy formation but also an extensive acquisition and processing of market and consumer data.
- Con. Creating a new Blue Ocean can provide an early entrant advantage. Sometimes, however, a company launching an entirely new product requires investments in developing a new market by educating your consumers. This can lead to creating opportunities for your competition.
All in all, there’s a lot of potential in applying this approach, but it’s not a simple magic formula for us to implement.
Blue Ocean Strategy is about continually pursuing innovation and bettering the risk-reward equation we’re offering our customers.
There you have it! In this post, we’ve discussed how to apply the Blue Ocean Strategy to your fashion brand.
If you’d like to explore this topic further, we advise reading the book “Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant”.
It’s a staple of business literature, and it can really help you understand where to focus your innovation efforts to create a fashion brand that stands above the competition.
If you’d like to review some more strategy tools you can use to make your brand more competitive, there’s an additional resource worth exploring: 4 Theories to Assess Your Fashion Brand’s Competitiveness.
If you’d like to see how this value-focused approach can help fashion brands excel both in domestic and international markets, in this article, we review a case study on Giorgio Armani that builds on the insights we’ve discussed in this post.
Don’t hesitate to explore our blog section to look into more resources on the business of fashion, you’ll find plenty of articles on the latest trends of fashion marketing and luxury management. Enjoy!