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Counterfeit goods inflict damage on the fashion industry, but innovation is being used to fight back. We reveal the latest consumer trends in our research study.
The global fashion industry is worth an astonishing 1.78 trillion US dollars, which represents a 14% growth since 2018. Digital innovation has seen e-commerce grow rapidly, as consumers use digital channels to shop online. But are they aware that these same channels are used to sell counterfeit goods online?
We share 7 examples of how fashion brands are using innovation to adapt to ever-changing consumer behaviours and to fight the threat of fake fashion items online. We also reveal the latest consumer trends surrounding the topic of counterfeit goods within the fashion industry in our research study.
In recent times, the issue of sustainability has become a key factor for fashion brands as the damage caused to the environment by the fashion industry is revealed. Consumer demand for “fast fashion” allows global shoppers to keep up with the latest styles and trends but comes at a huge cost. With the rise in social media and a departure from the traditional four seasons means we are buying more fashion items than ever before.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC) recently reported that the fashion industry is responsible for up to 10% of the annual global carbon dioxide emissions, using up to 1.5 trillion litres of water in the process (20% of global wastewater). In fact, the textile industry is the world’s second largest polluter after the oil industry. As the amount of clothing we buy each year continues to grow, so does the number of garments which end up in landfill. We should also recognise that approximately 15% of the fabric made to produce clothing ends up on factory floors and 90% of apparel donated to charity shops goes unsold.
As consumers become more conscious of the issue, demand for sustainable clothing grows. Unfortunately, it seems that “fast fashion” is here to stay, however the number of fashion brands that are recognizing the issue and are disrupting the model, using innovative ways to create sustainable, environmentally friendly products is growing in parallel.
Global brands are acknowledging the role they must play in a sustainable future. Leading clothing brands such as Levi’s are committed to sourcing more sustainable materials, and discovering ways to use less water, making the world a better place for future generations. Whilst Adidas is a founding member of Parley for the Oceans, working with governments and environmental groups to reduce the waste. Their Parley range, which includes footwear, and sportswear, is made using plastic which is collected from our Oceans by partner organizations.
But it is not only global brands that are taking the issue seriously. Brands such as BATOKO were born with sustainability as a key principle. They are a small, independent swimwear brand who launched their range of swimsuits, claiming that they are fun, flattering, super comfy and made of rubbish. They are produced using 100% recycled plastic.
Despite the commitment shown from various brands, this hard work comes undone when cybercriminals steal their intellectual property and sell counterfeit fashion items to unsuspecting shoppers online under their brand name. We look at consumer shopping habits online and their relationship with counterfeit goods in our exclusive fashion research study.
Recent challenges which have restricted travel and resulted in various fashion events cancelled right across the globe, has forced the fashion industry to find new and innovative ways to reach their target audience. This has meant that some of the most iconic fashion weeks from around the world have gone 100% digital.
A new, entirely digital format of the London Fashion Week (LFW) will replace the traditional physical shows. Vogue explained that LFW has influenced many businesses, not just for fashion, but for the influence it has on society, identity and culture, so it will be interesting to see how business adapt post pandemic in terms of sustainability and creativity. However, LFW is not the first to go entirely digital after Tokyo streamed its shows in March, Shanghai went digital in April, and Beijing in May 2020. Nor will LFW be the last, as Milan is set to follow suit with a special July edition.
Content played at the events have so far included virtual showrooms, digital runways, look books, interviews, behind the scenes footage, panel discussions, and much more. The China Fashion week in Beijing comprised of more than 230 national and international designer brands, from different 15 countries. E-commerce site Secco was the events official partner and they hosted over 100 live streams, with other content being made available on YouTube, WeChat, and Weibo post event.
This new model could change the way such events are organized, reducing our carbon footprint, focusing on sustainability, and making better use of the resources fashion brands have available. It has already been suggested that a calendar for future digital fashion weeks is being drawn up.
Designers are being given a free license to choose their own themes, and as they are no longer restricted by a fixed set, it will be exciting to see a new, creative approach that we have never witnessed before.
As fashion consumers become increasingly reliant on digital channels to deliver all their shopping needs, fashion brands are finding innovative ways to delight online shoppers. Virtual fitting rooms bring traditional in store services online.
Using avatars on both brand websites and mobile apps, shoppers are able to input their own measurements such as height, bust, cup size, waist, hips, and shoe size. These avatars can be customized further through a choice of hair colour and skin tone to achieve a similar look. Consumers are then able to try on various fashion items from the comfort of their own home. With size recommendations using heat maps, runway videos, and the ability to mix and match various items to see how they work together to complete the look. Runway videos and pictures of the outfit can be shared on social channels.
In our exclusive consumer fashion research study, we found that one in five consumers believe that their online shopping for fashion items will increase in the near future, whilst an additional 9% claim that they will either one day only shop online (5%), or that this is already the case (4%).
Many of these technologies have existed for several years, however as they become more sophisticated, and more providers are supplying these services the shopping experience is enhanced. It is driving more online traffic with greater conversion rates than ever before.
This innovation can be used to differentiate official brand websites from rogue websites which promote and sell counterfeit goods online. The need to offer unique shopping experiences is also clear when we consider that three in five shoppers have intentionally purchased a counterfeit fashion item online. Where it is difficult to compete against these fake items on price, such innovation can be used to attract customers who may otherwise have opted to purchase a fake for a fraction of the price.
A successful fashion company puts customer service at the heart of their business. A multi-channel approach can deliver a great customer experience if managed correctly. However, a HubSpot survey found that 80% of consumers will cease purchasing from a company or brand if they experience poor customer service.
Today, having just one or two communication channels is not sufficient, and an omni channel strategy is necessary to delight shoppers. Combining the most innovative technologies across web (live chat, FAQs), email, social, video, and mobile enhances the customer journey, and in turn drives repeat business, and positive customer reviews.
Artificial intelligence is also being used to provide a new solution for fashion brands to communicate with digitally native shoppers. Expectations for seamless shopping experiences are higher than ever before, and as digital grows, demand for what was once an offline luxury is now expected online.
Chatbot stylists can be accessed on various devices including mobile, tablets and laptops, and act as both a sales tool for fashion brands, as well as offering advice to consumers searching for the right look. Guidance is offered relating to styles, sizes, matching, recommendations, and alternatives.
These chatbots are often implemented onsite to look like personal stylists, assisting shoppers throughout the entire shopping experience, from onsite navigation, all the way through to completing a sale. They are made to look and feel like a real salesperson.
These chatbots allow fashion brands to reach out to consumers visiting their website or app. Reply to messages instantly, gather customer information, offer out of hours support, and improve conversion rates. They provide greater customer engagement levels, reduced operational costs, inexpensive to build and simple to integrate with third-party services, all whilst providing a fun and engaging method of communication to delight customers.
Consumers expect a quick response to their questions and concerns, and the same applies when we consider delivery. Next day delivery services are now the norm, and in some cases the same day or even the same hour. In fact, 31% of respondents to our fashion research study claim that customer service, and speed of delivery are key factors when buying genuine fashion products online.
The payment options that fashion brands offer their customers can determine conversion rates. In fact, a Statista report found that in 2019 the global online shopping cart abandonment rate was 69.57%. Today, shoppers expect a payment gateway with multiple options, which provide fast, secure, and seamless transactions. We now expect to see our preferred payment method at checkout, and such is the inconvenience when it is not offered that many of us simply abandon our baskets, resulting in lost sales.
Payment options such as e-Wallets, mobile payments, pre-paid cards and credit and debit cards are just some of the payment methods we expect to see at checkout in 2020. The way which we pay differs significantly depending on the country and region, and global fashion brands must take this into account.
If carts are abandoned, there are ways to claw back some of those losses and increase conversion rates. Sending a reminder can prompt shoppers to return and complete their transaction. Through exit pop-up windows, email, push, or even social retargeting, a simple message can trigger a sale, and boost profits.
The way we pay is of great importance to fashion buyers online, but so too is the price itself. We found that fair pricing is the second most important factor when choosing which genuine fashion item to buy online, and of those who have intentionally purchased counterfeit goods, 58% could be convinced to buy the genuine item if prices were lower (30.66%), or there were more promotions and discounts on offer (27.83%).
More than 50% of global ecommerce sales were made through digital marketplaces in 2019, a figure which is expected to increase over the coming years. This is perhaps less surprising when we consider that there are in fact over 150 digital marketplaces in the world today. Fashion brands, of varying sizes rely heavily on the sales which they generate through these platforms, yet there is a clear need to exercise caution.
We found that 78% of respondents to our fashion research study have purchased apparel or fashion accessories on a digital marketplace. 52% of those questioned believe that if a fashion product is listed on a digital marketplace, then it MUST be genuine, which goes someway in explaining why two thirds have unintentionally purchased a counterfeit fashion item online.
Leading digital marketplaces have been widely criticized for their role in dealing with counterfeit goods and this led to many admitting the struggle they have in controlling the issue. The sheer number of sellers and products on their sites makes it hugely challenging, especially when we consider the methods counterfeiters use to evade detection. It is the responsibility of fashion brands to take the issue seriously, and utilize the technology available today to protect consumers, their brand reputations, and their online sales.
Fashion companies are utilizing influencers in the form of bloggers and vloggers to attract a dedicated following, and reaching out to new audiences, whilst gaining publicity for their range of products. As the fashion industry continues to embrace the digital revolution, the power of social channels such as blogs, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube is evident.
The top fashion influencers have millions of followers, and through a simple post, image, or video they can create incredible hype around a product or brand, driving awareness and huge spikes in sales. Some of the content they share include video shopping, style guides, unboxing, look books, tutorials, hauls, upcycling, body confidence, and lifestyle.
But consumers must remain cautious as counterfeits and brand abuse on social channel is skyrocketing in this digital age. We found that 37.8% of respondents believe that fashion items promoted across social channels MUST be genuine, leaving them susceptible to scams and the risk of unintentionally buying counterfeit goods.
We found that 34% of shoppers who have been tricked into buying counterfeit goods online admit that they would stop interacting with official social posts, whilst 32% would completely stop buying fashion items from that brand. In fact, just 6% of respondents reported that it would not change their relationship with the brand.
By using well-known, influential vloggers and bloggers, fashion brands can restore trust and gain market share in a hugely challenging market. However, the necessity to make brand protection a key feature in their business strategy is fundamental as fashion continues to move online and cybercriminals are using the very same platforms, applying ever more sophisticated methods to dupe unsuspecting shoppers.