Understanding perception helps you sell more, here is how it works.
Imagine you are having a conversation with someone, and you want them to feel as you do.
You say: “You MUST love this. I do; it’s just SO amazing.”
They nod, you think ‘Great, they are same as me’
What they actually think is ‘Great, they like it’.
Both people walk away thinking they completely understand each other. This is the challenge with all communication; each of us perceives things differently than the other person.
The plus side is that perception is a powerful tool which allows each human to be an individual. Everyone’s brain builds their own reality; they see the world uniquely, it makes sense in their head and that’s all that matters.
The minus side is exactly the same; you can’t ever be sure that what you say is understood as you meant it and nor should you, as it is perceived via your personal lens and if you try to push that too hard, too often, too aggressively then people stop listening.
Where this becomes an issue in fashion is when a brand believes it is communicating exactly what it wants but their message gets lost; their perception is different to how their market understands it. This is not simply about the words used either; we communicate in a variety of ways and in fashion it’s typically a combination of imagery first and words second (and ideally both as a tag team). If you want a live study, look at the reactions to fashion posts on Instagram. There you have fans of a brand whose reactions vary dramatically for each and every post, My favourite brand to observe this phenomenon with is Prada; they have lots of fans (and the odd troll) but tonnes of examples of people showing ‘love’ but for a huge variety of different reasons.
To understand fashion perception you have to look inside your company and outside at what your market is asking for.
Every season has a moment of inspiration. Sometimes the fashionista takes inspiration from external sources and sometimes they copy (but don’t tell anyone!). Sometimes they follow, but they always have a unique story and reason for doing what they do. This can be hidden in the curve, the design, the label width, the smallest details. IF you figure this out then you understand half of the fashion perception and will understand what drives people to buy or not. Then you just need to make sure your imagery demonstrates the story.
How can one predict the future when the world is a constant state of change? This is where being dedicated to data matters. We never mean boring data; we do always, always, always mean the emotional side of data: the people, the individuals, the customers you have, the customers you want. That is where storytelling is key; if you take the time to understand your customers beyond just being numbers you will win.
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