Category Archives: Communications

How Great Leaders & Companies Inspire Action

How do great leaders inspire action? How do companies inspire marketplaces to investigate and purchase their products, fashion or otherwise? The answers to these questions I discovered within a 18 minutes TEDx talk I found this morning by Simon Sinek.

The points within the this talk are simple, yet immensely profound for the world of fashion. People don’t need fashion. People only need clothing, and that depends where they are located in the world. People purchase the ‘why?’…

Check out Simon’s talk below. It may inspire you to re-think your communication of your ‘why?’.

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

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Why Inspiration Trumps Imitation

This post is sourced from the blog of futurist and keynote speaker Mike Walsh

Why Inspiration Trumps Imitation

You can have too much of a good thing, especially if it wasn’t yours to start with. Here’s the perfect example – brands that shamelessly imitate the strategies of their major competitors. I was scouting the Westfield complex in Century City, LA last week and noticed a new Sony concept store a few feet from a classic Apple retail shrine. It was striking how similar both stores appeared, except for one crucial distinction – Sony was devoid of customers.

Years ago I remember watching a fascinating interview with Steve Jobs. He was comparing himself to Microsoft and Bill Gates, explaining that their mission at Apple was to take as much as they could from art, music, history, science and technology – in his words ‘the best things that humans have done’ – and cram it into their products. That’s why, he said while people use Microsoft products, they love the ones that Apple makes. The difference was passion.

Apple’s retail strategy is also no stranger to appropriation. Next time you are in front of one of their stores, stop for a minute and squint your eyes so that the laptops and screens disappear and all you can see are abstract shapes, materials and lighting. Anything look familiar? When they designed their stores, Apple took direct inspiration from the world of luxury boutiques with their expensive construction materials, theatrical street presence and sparse merchandising, They ruthlessly imitated, but importantly – it was not from the playbooks of their immediate competition.

That said – there are some limited scenarios when direct imitation works as a disruptive strategy. For example when you take an expensive product, and deliver a comparable substitute at a dramatically lower pricer point. Although their customers might deny it – low priced imitation is the secret behind the success of fashion brands like Zara and H&M. They directly copy high fashion styles from established luxury brands, and rapidly manufacture and curate market appropriate products at prices mass market consumers can afford. Not so dissimilar is the practice of Chinese ‘shanzhai’ or bandit phone manufacturers, who offer clones of high end smartphones at substantial discounts to their originals, and in doing so, open up entirely new consumer niches.

The distinction between inspiration and imitation might be nuanced, but the competitive differentiation can be vast. Steve Jobs was always fond of the infamous Picasso quip – ‘good artists copy but great artists steal’. But what does stealing really mean? When you steal something, you don’t just take it – you make it your own. Sage advice for the next time someone asks you to look over your shoulder and mindlessly mimic something your competition does.

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Evolving with the times

Globalisation is nothing new to the fashion industry. In fact it could probably be said that it was one of the first industries to exploit the specialisation of particular parts of the world to trade silks, fine jewellery and other pieces of antiquity. For decades manufacturing has been switching largely from West to East as relatively cheaper labour could execute the ‘low-value’ side of the production cycle, while the more ‘high-value’ design and creative processes were retained in the country of origin.

Technology is now poised to disrupt the production cycle yet again. The disruption largely yet to be felt is that around what economists call global labour market arbitrage. Put simply this is where you can engage someone or some company, somewhere else in the world to perform the same task that you would at home, for a fraction of the price. Manufacturing has been doing this for decades, but the true disruption yet to come will be in white-collar and professional occupations.

Already sites like freelancer.com allow one to engage a designer, copywriter, strategist, technology provider, and other services to perform their respective actions remotely at a fraction of the domestic full employment cost. Setup similar to an auction site freelancer allows you to post a project, review quotes from suppliers, the reputation, feedback and history of suppliers, allocate budgets and milestones for your project and process payments.

All of that is great for a fashion label looking to update their website, build an iphone app, or craft some fresh copy for their SS launch, but what are the longer term implications? Thinking about it, it means that the people conducting the operations of your business in the next few years may have to compete with someone in the second and third world who can achieve the same outcome as them, hold the same qualifications, and potentially have a higher service ethic. What there is the potential (and I say ‘potential’ as this is not some kind of dooms-day prediction) for a reduction in first world incomes should labour markets not adjust accordingly. Reduction in incomes means less spending power. Less spending power means less money spent in the world of  fashion. Yes clothing is an essential item, but that $1,500 handbag can probably wait.

What would such a world mean for particular players in the fashion industry. Brands with a global presence will be able to exploit and leverage changes in discretionary spending as wealth transitions around the globe. Brands unable to escape the confines of their home boundaries (especially in the west) will most likely feel the strongest effects. Especially if there have not carved themselves a well-defined and serviced niche in the marketplace.

Australian strategist and author Mike Walsh is exploring such a world. Mike’s latest book Futuretainment encompasses the traditional forms of media and entertainment and reveals how the rise of the internet, mobile devices, social networking, audience networks, user generated content, ubiquitous networks and the ‘adaptive web’, amongst other advances, has affected them forever. Futuretainment explains how consumer behaviour has combined with new technologies to enact these changes. The opportunities provided by the digital age for new ways of accessing and providing information have been embraced across the world and diverted the course of media. Entertainment and broadcasting are now in the hands of the consumer, rather than the media executive.

Whether the impact of this will threaten western labour markets is yet to be determined, but what is clear is that the world is changing, and change can mean with opportunity or ruin. In the natural world natural selection takes care of the problem. History shows the business world and that of fashion is no different. How can you make sure your brand and product is selected to evolve and not be left behind?

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Player Profile: Betty Wants In

A major goal of Enterprising Fashion is to profile players operating within the world of fashion.Countless companies, entities, and ultimately people are involved throughout the production, sales, and consumption cycles constantly shaping the rag trade.

Our first company profile is of Melbourne based video and motion graphic design studio Betty Wants In.

Betty Wants In

Company: Betty Wants In

Area of Expertise: Design studio specialising in video & motion graphics

Work in Fashion: Mimco MSFW 2011 & Abuze London Store Launch

Website: BettyWantsIn.com | info@BettyWantsIn.com

Hailing from Melbourne, Australia Betty Wants In has grown from a ripple into a pond to a Melbourne spring thunderstorm in the local world of video and motion graphics.

Working with brands such as Mimco, Sensis, Chupa Chups, and Corona, Chas Mackinnon and the team behind Betty Wants In are making in-roads into the hearts and minds of youth throughout Australia.

Betty Wants In Showreel from Betty Wants In on Vimeo. Music by Strange Talk – Climbing Walls

Betty Wants In recently experienced their first taste of a viral sensation with the release of Experience Human Flight. Once uploaded to Vimeo (as opposed to YouTube) and picked up the Creative Director of Vimeo the video experienced an exponential growth in views, comments, and sharing. Caping out at just shy of 12,800 likes on Vimeo alone.

Experience Human Flight from Betty Wants In on Vimeo.

So what are some tricks of the trade that can help make your next season launch or promotional campaign achieve viral status?Matt Owen from Digital Marketers United suggests these six tactics in August 2010 post.

  1. Be relevant
  2. Be entertaining
  3. Be concise
  4. Be progressive
  5. Be searchable
  6. Be clear
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Social media and SEO: Keys to optimizing Facebook

Much has been written about the wonders of the new social media age. The customers of the future will be digital natives. So what can you do now, simply and effectively to maximise your effect in the one of the largest social media platforms: the behemoth that is Facebook.

Turns out someone has tackled this for us. Check out the full article on optimising Facebook here.

In summary the points are:

  • Keywords in updates
  • Edit links to include keywords
  • Add links to the info page
  • Focus on the ‘about’ box
  • Keywords in your page name
  • Descriptions on all pieces of content
  • Add a link to photos
  • Tage pages in posts
  • Follow best practice in posts
  • Point ads to your Facebook page
  • Be consistent with links
  • Always link to the main page
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Turning a ‘like’ into a ‘buy’

Management consultants Booz&Co (the guys who invented the supply chain) have released a report exploring social media and the implications of its various closed networks as a separate commerce channel to traditional e-commerce.

Full report Turning “Like” to “Buy” Social Media Emerges as a Commerce Channel

According to this report social commerce (separate to e-commerce) is forecast to expand by 56% year on year through to 2015.

The report also explores the ability to utilise social media throughout the marketing funnel.

Whatever the case, social media is here to stay. Several new innvoations in the world of fashion are emerging as a result.

  • Social media can now inform stock and collection planning. Check out Editd
  • Online showrooms capable of challenging brick and mortar boutiques are emerging. Check out TribaSpace