SWOT, an in-vogue form of strategic planning, is ideal for the volatile fashion industry. SWOT studies evaluate "strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats" involved with stated business objectives. Both internal and external factors are considered. Analysis then defines favorable and unfavorable factors and their potential impact on the end-goal.
A SWOT analysis covers four areas of consideration. The first "strengths" takes into account internal attributes that will positively affect the business objective. The second area, "weaknesses," identifies potential weak-links within the company's control that could contribute to a detrimental outcome. The third category, "opportunities," analyzes external conditions that favor end-goal achievement. Finally, external "threats" that are beyond the company's control face evaluation.
Fashion is a multifaceted industry comprised of design, production, distribution and merchandising factions. The global fashion market is broken into geographical segments including the Asian, European and U.S. markets.
Boundaries must be erected around the segment of the market to be analyzed. Those boundaries could include geographic regions, particular brands, designer lines and particular cogs within the fashion wheel, such as garment manufacturing or junior-retail sales. The business objective itself narrows the area of fashion that will be considered on the SWOT study.
It is wise to conduct a SWOT analysis prior to opening or expanding an industry business. Before plunging into unknown seas, authorize a SWOT study. It will reveal your market's climate and reduce financial risk.
A brand's strengths are resources that contribute to its competitive edge. Factoring into a line's strengths are its reputation, its loyal consumer base, proprietary knowledge, competitive sources of raw materials, talented labor pools, industrial advantages and trade connections.
Lack of strength in an area equals weakness. A new designer, without a reputation, is a negative point. This lack of name recognition would be listed as a specific weakness. A new line, without a following, would be another weakness. A costly labor source would be added into the category. Competitive disadvantages within company control land in this portion of the study.
Emerging opportunity often proceeds the SWOT. When international trade barriers come down, an industrious designer may be spurred to create a line featuring Thai silk. Easy access to this inexpensive quality fabric may be a windfall. Tapping into the maquiladora labor pool is another such opportunity. When opportunity knocks, order a SWOT.
Threats to doing business as usual also instigate SWOT studies. These external negative changes can impact the fashion industry by crippling profits. Shifting trends, the tightening of consumer discretionary income, trade barriers and governmental regulations increasing minimum wage all appear on SWOT radar.