The Fashion Summit: Freedom of Speech

Written by Martin Lucas

We were out and about at the Fashion Summit this week delivering a talk on ‘How to use Emotional Intelligence to grow - sell - engage’. It went really well, with the main feedback being that we really helped people to think differently about how they engage their target markets. Really cool feedback!

Here is the practical insight we shared:

The customer decision-making process

When we are buying anything in life, our decision-making is driven by a vast range of emotions that collectively make us decide whether to buy or not.

For additional context, what you buy at work features emotions such as judgement and fear, as you do not want to mess things up and look bad or risk your job.

At the summit, I used the examples of buying a dress and a polo shirt:


If you are buying a ballgown, you will think more deeply, with more variations, and take longer to decide what to buy than if you were thinking of buying a summer dress or other staple items. This is partly because of cost, but mainly it’s because of the purpose of the dress. In your brain, you put a much higher weighting on a ballgown than on a staple summer dress. A ballgown is about feeling special - getting it just so - therefore you think more deeply about the occasion, whereas a summer dress is a much quicker and easier decision.

Polo Shirt:

Much like the summer dress, it’s an unconscious evaluation, often only considered after you’ve bought it and worn it the first time. Only when asked ‘why did you buy that shirt?’, your conscious kicks in and says stuff like ‘Oh, I liked the colour; it goes with my green jacket’.

Often with fashion, we are buying unconsciously. Take the summer dress and the polo shirt - our unconscious mind runs a whole range of data internally, such as what it would like to wear the item in different scenarios or what other clothing or accessories it could go with. It’s all done without us having to consciously think, whereas the ballgown involves conscious thinking:  wondering, pondering, imagining. Our point is that you have to know whether your product range involves conscious or unconscious purchase decision making. If unconscious, then we just show enough words and images that show the item in an outfit and in an appropriate environment and thus our target market doesn’t think, they just buy. Whereas for the ballgown, we know the customer will be thinking consciously, so give them a narrative and context which helps them know it’s right for them.

This leads us to know which voice to use as a company.

Finding your voice

Last week I was writing about projecting (You get what you project) and how the brain can be your friend or your biggest enemy in how you communicate and signal to other humans. The same is true for the voice you use as a brand. Like all communication, it’s about understanding that as a two-way method, it’s not just about what you desire but also about what your market desires.

The best tip about context is this: ‘What you say is not always what you mean’ and we can all make this mistake in how we market our businesses. You see, every word matters. For example, how you name or refer to your products; Public Desire uses female names for their shoes as it adds more personality and is easier for people to remember and share. That makes social sharing and word of mouth easier and also matches their style and the brand voice they project. This leads me to who you are targeting your fashion range at in terms of demographic, age, and income level. Fearless - led by founder, Beth - is really strong and clear that their target market is 25-35 years olds, which is very different to Boohoo. Take a look and compare their respective Twitter or Instagram feeds to see what I mean. Have some fun and ask yourself some questions as you review their feeds:



What types words do they use?

Do you think those words work?

How do they create engagement?

What are the differences between the two age groups?

It’s a fun test so I won’t give away the answers. Also, it is contextual, so it depends on what you see. All three of these examples are successful growing brands that don’t try to be all things to all people. Instead they know their market, they focus on it; they continuously learn and that’s what finding your voice is about:

Know yourself and what makes you awesome.

Know your market and know what attracts them to buy from you and only you!