Fashion is highly susceptible to changing attitudes, tastes and the influence of others, making it challenging to plan and promote what you create without constant upheaval. Two process dynamics that can help you to understand your markets and meet their needs are the product lifecycle and the innovation adoption curve.
Every product goes through several developmental stages, from introduction to a growth slope, maturity and decline. Each is characterized by different efforts on the part of the creator: introduction requires the heaviest commitment of finances and promotion, growth represents a modification of both, maturity sees a leveling-off of commitment, and decline requires removal of the product from the marketplace. While the introductory stage is riskiest, as many products fail, decline is the end of the lifecycle and is the hardest psychologically to manage, and as a result too many products stay on the market too long, becoming a financial burden. Ongoing market and competitive research are necessary to understand current and impending changes in customers’ needs and wants.
The innovation adoption curve represents market segments and the comparative likelihood that they will adopt an innovation, defined as ‘something new’. Because fashion is so prone to change, it is important to understand if and how your creations are perceived as innovations. Consumers who are eager to experience newness and novelty are innovators; those who wait a while to see how products are received and reviewed in the marketplace fall into two categories, early adopters and late adopters; and those who are reluctant to change and may not accept newness at all are laggards. The first and last market segments are relatively small in number, while the vast majority are in the middle, with varying degrees of acceptance of innovation, and distinguishing early from late adopters is the most difficult for marketers to do.