Losing One’s Cool

It’s no secret that marketers need to be sensitive to trends in consumer preferences. It’s also no secret that in the age of Google and pervasive social media, consumers are exponentially more sophisticated, better informed and more susceptible to the latest trends.

Case in point. Attending a recent 8th grade graduation, we were taken aback by the seemingly advanced levels of maturity, poise and accomplishment exhibited by so many of the students. More striking was the widespread attention to fashion and the general preference for products with that indefinable cool factor versus established brand presence. Welcome to the brave new world of “fast fashion.” Retailers such as Forever 21, Zara, H&M and Uniqlo have experienced rapid growth versus some of their more traditional retail compatriots, such as Abercrombie & Fitch and Aeropostale. These companies failed to listen to and keep up with their consumer audience’s preference for almost “disposable” fashion and the trend of the moment.

The chart below shows the severe impact this trend has had on traditional retailers who, even with increased advertising, have suffered severe sales declines in recent quarters.

fashinon chart

While trends in fashion may be more fleeting than those in wealth management, it’s just as important for financial service marketers as it is for apparel retailers to stay on top of developments in the industry and in the investor marketplace. This is especially critical now as technology drives potentially watershed changes in the way financial products are manufactured, evaluated and consumed.