In the current economic climate, it can be tricky for startups to get a foothold in their niche compared to the bigger and more established brands. While there are many reasons for this, these are six of the biggest.
The first reason, arguably one of the biggest, is reputation. In business, reputation is easily as important as what you sell or provide. More prominent, established brands have had years to cultivate their reputations, while startups are just making a name for themselves. Reputation extends beyond providing quality clothing and includes customer service, return policies, pricing, etc. These factors must be at the highest level for a brand to have an excellent reputation. Simply put, startups must be around long enough to achieve this.
When you think of a big brand, it will usually also be one with the resources to fund extensive marketing. For instance, a store or brand can spend a lot of money advertising simple Diesel t shirts or a pair of Nike shoes. On the other hand, many startups can’t afford mass marketing and therefore need to be more particular about where and how they advertise; this inevitably leads to marketing to a much smaller audience. However, niche audiences can offer start-ups the base they need to grow into a more commercial brand — especially if they can appeal to young and financially independent buyers.
Established fashion brands have far more wriggle room and range when it comes to pricing. Once you have a fully functioning supply chain, great deals on resources and labour, and a massive audience, you can offer competitive prices on your items. However, startups are often disadvantaged in this regard; they have limited funds and can often not afford to underprice or undervalue their items.
More often than not, if someone asked you where you would go right now to buy a new shirt, dress, or pair of pants, you will have a store or brand in your mind almost instantly. This is the store or brand you know and the one that suits your taste and style. Because clothing startups haven’t been around for that long, so they don’t have a big enough audience to convert into a returning audience just yet. More often than not, people will choose what they know instead of the new kid on the block. While this is not a direct reflection of the trading practices and items’ quality of the start-up, it impacts brand image when fewer people buy from the business. However, with smart marketing and consistent effort to get the word out, start-ups definitely have a shot at success in the market.
Regarding fashion, variety is one of the most appealing aspects of a brand. A store selling only white t-shirts may be quirky and slightly different, but it won’t be as popular as a store with something for everyone. This is another area where established brands have the upper hand over startups. As mentioned, startups don’t often have the means to stock a massive range and tend to offer pieces for capsule wardrobes instead of a wide variety.
There are ways that startups can become more appealing to a younger audience.
While more prominent brands may be able to market on a much bigger scale, startups can create more unique campaigns. More often than not, bigger brands don’t need to innovate with their marketing as they already have a captured audience. Startups can also take a few more risks in their marketing and use avenues possibly underutilised by mainstream brands, such as influencer marketing, to appeal to the new generation. The US-based B2B software platform Emplifi can help businesses take on any marketing, commerce, or care challenge to Gen Z with confidence as they are oriented around social media marketing and eCommerce management.
Startups are often more open to embracing change and “new ways” of doing things, as established brands tend to stick with what has always worked for them. Because of this, startups can adapt to audience wants and needs much easier.
Being eco-friendly is another way for startups to get a step above established brands. Younger generations are becoming more aware of their environmental impact and are therefore more open to buying and using products that do as little harm to the world as possible. It has also become widespread for younger generations to spend more money on clothing if they know it is more eco-friendly and falls into the slow fashion category.
While startups can make themselves more appealing in several ways than established brands, the latter has the advantage. Brands that have been around for several years or decades can do that for the reasons listed above. Being around for several years allows you to garner an audience and customer base; it will enable you to establish yourself as the go-to brand for a particular set of items or styles, and while successful startups will catch up eventually, it is difficult at first.