Fashion industry analysis seeks to understand how the fashion industry works, what the fashion trends are and which brands people are buying or not buying and why. It looks to understand demographics, shopping trends and brand awareness. This type of analysis can be broken down into various types of research with different scopes and focus. Small-scale analysis can study one brand, one store or even one element of a brand, such as tops or skirts. Other analyses are industry-wise analytics that study the whole market, such as fashion weeks, trends and customer shopping habits.
The link between all these types of fashion industry analysis is the industry itself. The fashion market represents one of the largest markets in the world. It produces more products and employs more people than the electronic and automotive industries, and it is almost equal to the food industry for its importance to most consumers.
The fashion industry is divided into three main sections. The first section is design, which is the creation of new products, lines, styles and even brands. Second is production, which is the making of the actual clothes. Finally, there is sales, which is the part of the fashion industry that most consumers see and with which they interact.
One of the favored methods of small-scale fashion industry research is the analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). SWOT analysis is an analytical tool that is used by head offices as well as local shops to assess a brand's performance as well as threats posed by its rivals. Many shop managers use SWOT analysis to ensure that their wares are displayed correctly, that the shop is laid out to maximize its potential and that sales, prices and brands can outperform any rivals.
Dedicated market research companies perform more overarching forms of fashion industry analysis. These surveys can be done on behalf of brands themselves, as an independent venture or on behalf of national governments and institutions. They can be divided into surveys that examine trends, existing markets, new markets and customer shopping habits.
Trends are popular products or styles that sell well during a short time period. One year, for example, the hottest trend might be long skirts, but the next year, it might be shorter ones. Fashion industry analysis that focuses on trends helps companies to understand what is selling well around the world so they can adjust their product lines accordingly.
Existing markets cover a range of sales markets. These include countries that have always been receptive to fashion brands, including fashion hubs such as Italy, France, the United Kingdom and the United States. This type of research is used to examine the health of the market and how it is developing and evolving over a given period of time.
New and developing markets are countries that have little or no history of fashion brands and international fashion sales. In the 1960s and 1970s, Japan became a booming fashion market, and the same happened to China in the late 1990s. Research into these markets is used to help determine where the next boom will be, who is buying, what their budgets are and what their tastes are.
Customer shopping habits are an integral part of fashion industry analysis, because customers drive sales and produce profits. Without the support of a significant number of available customers, a fashion brand is likely to wilt and die. Fashion companies want to know whether customers use social media, respond well to advertising and feel positively about specific brands and lines, as well as whether they are following trends.