In the last decade we have witnessed an African Fashion revolution. Fashion weeks from Lagos, Accra, Durban, and Arusha provide a platform for designers to showcase their work. Unlike what happens at fashion weeks elsewhere the ones on the continent are rarely for designers to meet fashion buyers. In the absence of buyers African
designers have to use a mix of traditional and tech driven strategies to get their designs into the market.
1. Get A Strong Fashion Brand
To market your fashion brand you must have a recognizable brand. The brand is more than just your logo or your brand name; it is how people will separate you from others in the industry. A fashion designer’s brand answers the question of whom that designer is artistically. It’s not what they say but how what the clothes communicate as a body of work. The stronger the brand, the easier it is to connect with a niche market of adoring fans and customers.
2. Offer a good retail shopping experience if you want to command a good price
What you can charge for your garments is directly related to customer experience you offer at your boutique. If you’re selling from home or in a dingy tailor shop, you wont be able to charge premium prices. Where you sell, how you treat your customers when they come is part of adding value to your brand. Your boutique should be uncluttered, it should showcase variety not volume, it must be well lit, it must be well ventilated, and it must have a clean private area for fittings.
3. Use Instagram & Whatsapp to generate sales leads and Whatsapp to nurture those leads
Don’t just post your fashion brand’s photos on social media for people to see, post photos with selling as your intention. When you intend to sell you make sure to indicate how people can contact you if they want to purchase. Post your shop’s location, post your phone number, and let people know the best way to reach you. The posts you make will generate interest (sales leads) but that wont necessary close the sale. To close the sale you need to follow up with leads repeatedly. When people contact you on Facebook or Instagram you want to make sure you get their Phone/Whatsapp/Email so that you can follow up with them.
On Whatsapp you can continue the conversation with the lead. Find out their size, their taste in clothes, and show them more of your products. To actually close the sale you also you to make sure you offer multiple payment options. Offering services such as delivery, and mobile money will increase the likelihood of closing the sale.
4. Diversify your brand portfolio, don’t just focus on making clothes; add fashion and home accessories too
Marketing your fashion brand in a local market means you’re going to be competing with other local brands. In that kind of environment you have to maximize on your revenue generation streams. To survive and thrive all African fashion brands should produce some of the following in addition to clothes; jewelry, purses, belts, hair ornaments, aprons, pillow-cases, laundry bags, shopping bags, and diversify their product offerings as much as possible. The local market is small so you have to be innovative about making money. The added value of accessories is that you don’t have to worry about sizes. Also unlike clothes you can make them in more volume.
Lastly you can outsource production of the accessory items to local craftsmen and artisans and all you have to do is brand them and put them in your shop.
5. If you can only invest in one type of offline marketing tool invest in flyers
You cannot successfully market your fashion brand on a national level solely using online marketing. You have to go to places, events, and reach out to people with local sales promotions. Flyers are a good way to run sales promos. The flyer is not for you to showcase your designs rather to tell people about what you do. This
would be a great way to advertise specialized services such as group tailoring/ceremonial offers for weddings, an expedited 72 hour tailoring service if you have one, or whatever is special or unique about your brand. Do you sew the perfect kaba and slit, iro and bubba, cocktail dresses, work fashion, or is yours a modern fashion brand? Whatever it is that will resonate with the market is what you put on the flyer. Other information that you should put on your flyer is your phone number,
directions to your shop, where they can find you on social media, and lastly one picture that best shows your design. You can give these flyers out at parties, weddings, to your customers, to just about anyone you meet so they know what you do and how to reach you.