Barcelona Fashion Summit (BFS)

The most significant event in the fashion industry in Spain, organised by Modaes, which annually outlines the future of the sector from an economic, academic and trend perspective, has just concluded its eighth edition. The consumer, so omnipresent in the sector’s conversations and strategic plans in recent years, has been the leitmotiv of BFS 2020 and the main focus of the round tables and conferences held during the course of the event. Analyticalways brings you the main conclusions – by way of keys to the future of the fashion customer – from the event in Barcelona.

It is clear that fashion consumers have been in a process of transformation for years, confusing companies with their consumption habits and volumes, volatility of preferences, their increasingly social and participative nature with fashion, their empowerment, demands and growing environmental awareness and responsibility. Millennials, Centennials, Generation Alpha and the Silver Generation. How not to get lost in the new nomenclatures and the new and more complex formulas than ever that lie behind them of how consumers create and develop their relationships with brands and fashion. Here are ten key points heard at BFS that you should not miss if you work in Retail.

The relevance of brands under scrutiny

Brand relevance is plummeting. According to Monica Moro, chief creative officer of McCann Spain, consumers would not mind if 74% of brands disappeared, underlining the extreme importance of having a purpose today that is beyond the product itself. The empowered and socially active consumer, thanks to social media, wants brands with values and that appeal to their emotions. Diversity appears as a rising value on the scale of their values.

Creativity and diversity to reach the customer’s heart

Within the roadmap that fashion brands must follow, creativity appears as an essential attribute, according to Mónica Moro, from McCann, in the conference’s opening speech. Selling with creativity is the only way to sell when everything has already been invented, which is why communication becomes important in today’s environment as a key artistic instrument of brand building. In the battle to conquer the customer’s heart versus their wallet, touching the former is a long-term strategy capable of generating a much more powerful and lasting bond than price. Winning, according to Mónica Moro, is knowing how to tell relevant things, this “is not about your book, but about the book that consumers want”.

New communication: switch off, reset and switch back on

In line with the first two keys, brands need a new approach in their communication. The revolution brought about by the internet, social media and technology has driven a new, much more interactive and engaging environment for fashion marketing and communication. Innovating in channels and formats, broadening the focus and engaging the consumer are all part of the necessary process of switching off, resetting and switching back on that needs to happen in the fashion business. In this respect, Marcella Wartenbergh, CEO of Pepe Jeans, insisted on the mix of emotions, technology and creativity when it comes to tackling change in the industry from the perspective of branding and new communication.

Price, rationality and fashion

Rationality is one of the most prominent characteristics of today’s new consumer, the fashion customer has reasserted his or her needs in recent years. In the opinion of Josep Montserrat, CEO of Kantar, fashion is facing a virtuous circle that combines price and rationality to appeal to the mind of the new consumer. This is a much more ‘liquid’ profile that is constantly changing its preferences and shopping destinations, exceedingly well informed, connected and extremely price sensitive. Faced with this, the industry – in its constant quest to attract customers and generate traffic – has to identify that profile within its potential customers that is willing to pay more for certain products.

The power of offline

Physical stores have not died. Despite the feared retail apocalypse and the advance of e-commerce, according to Antonio Gonzalo of McKinsey & Company, offline continues to be relevant to Centennials. In fact, according to a report by the same consultancy firm, physical purchases will continue to have a greater weight than online purchases, with a ratio of 80/20. The key is physical outlets managing to come into line with market and consumer developments. Customer experience is becoming increasingly important for Retail.

Technology as an ally

One of the keys to the change Retail is undergoing lies in its commitment to technology as its greatest ally. It is precisely the technological revolution that allowed new players to enter the sector and do things differently for the consumer, and large companies need to step up their commitment to digital transformation in order not to lose market share, which is becoming increasingly fragmented. Analytics, talent management, working in an Agile way, knowing and integrating technology and working with a different culture are the five elements of the new fashion formula.

Data for higher performance

Connected to the above, one the most valuable technologies available to the fashion industry is Analytics. According to Antonio Gonzalo of McKinsey & Company, companies that work with and invest in data systematically achieve the highest returns. A commitment to data is key to understanding and connecting with the consumer.

The resurgence of Generation X

The millennial consumer has been in the focus of fashion companies for years and they are diversifying the ways to reach this young audience in terms of offer, price and customer experience. However, one of the global macro trends is forcing us to broaden the focus and reconnect with Generation X or more mature consumers. The world’s population is ageing in better health than ever and life expectancy is extending, the resurgence of Generation X is an irrefutable fact that calls for a refocusing of strategies to include this target market with higher purchasing power and greater brand loyalty than younger generations.

Sustainability is not a KPI

One of the major concerns of consumers is sustainability and responsible consumption. This is still a recent consumer driver, but it is becoming more and more important each year. According to Nuria Ramírez, sustainability manager at H&M in Spain, fashion companies have to respond to this growing consumer demand by offering sustainable products but, above all, by incorporating this criterion into the entire value and production chain. According to industry experts at the BFS, sustainability is not just another business KPI, but must become part of the corporate culture.