T-shirt Business Pro Guide (Part 2): Step-by-step Market Research

One of the most common traps wannabe entrepreneurs fall into is going head over heels with their business idea before conducting their market research! The T-shirt industry is no different in that sense when it comes to narrowing the target market and identifying the ideal merchandise for your customer, rather than customers for your merchandise.   


Why conducting market research is a must?

In previous blog posts, we have scratched the surface of explaining about market research in the tee business and how this should be an ongoing process if you want to stay relevant in your marketplace. What we concluded is that creating a buyer persona for your T-shirt business will help you get a clearer grasp of your idea with regard to viability and profitability.  


This is an imperative knowledge one must gain before they plough all of their savings into establishing an online store and promoting their garments to the wider public. 


Skipping this step creates the risk of setting up a T-shirt brand for which there is no marketplace! In other words, there’s low or no demand for your products and not enough sales to sustain your business.     


Where to start?

Once you have made up your mind that doing your market research is where you should begin with your T-shirt venture, make the first step by answering all of the following questions: 


Is your market mostly local to your area? 

Do you have competitors in this area and what are their unique selling points (USP)? 

How do you plan to stand out from your competitors? 

How much your target customer is willing to spend on products of this category? 

Are you experienced enough in this industry or you are making your first steps into it?


Based on how many Yes answers you scored, you will be able to determine how full-fledged your market research needs to be before establishing your online presence. In these next few sections, we are sharing some practical tips you could use if you have little or no experience in setting up a T-shirt business. These can also be applied at a later stage in your brand development as a way to refine your knowledge of your target market, in case you already haven’t!


Step 1

Identify your keywords and choose them wisely!

Start by reaping the benefits of Google and consumer data. Navigating in the dynamic market is made easier with invaluable analytics tools such as GoogleTrends. Use the lens of the search engine’s powerhouse and search for your keywords of choice. The goal here is to choose searchable words that the potential customers in your area browse online consistently over time. 


In the examples below, we searched for the keywords “Christian apparel” and “Jesus clothing”. Based on our findings, we discovered that Christian apparel has better search volume over time- more consistent (fewer spikes and falls), and wider geographical reach along with the east coast. That gave us better insight into what is the customer demand on a time scale of 12 months across the whole country.   


Step 2


Is it worth the hype?

The next step in your search is figuring out how profitable your product idea is according to market intelligence tools like Viral Launch. Amazon sellers use these to identify products with high profitability scores and to find out what customers dislike about these particular finds.


Once you type in your product keyword, for example, “Christian apparel”, you will get thousands of hits with brands listing their product into this category on Amazon. Then, you can pigeonhole your competitors based on their revenue for the items, and find out about their USPs from customer reviews.


Watch out for positive feedback on product quality, material, and fabrics, size matching, and use cases for the product. Negative reviews, on the other hand, tell you about the important No no-s you should avoid when launching your T-shirt designs: Fabrics stretching, shrinking, durability, fit, and transfers peeling off. For this search, you can also go straights onto Amazon and do the research directly from the seller’s funds. 


Step 3


More web traffic, better sales

Once you have are firmly decided on a couple or more product keywords to use in listings and web content, you should use a discovery tool to find out how competitive they are on the search engine. New brands should watch out for keywords with low SEO difficulty so that they get higher chances to appear on the front pages of Google (when they start optimizing their web content). 


Paid difficulties scores are also important if you want to post paid ads to gain more traffic to your website in the beginning. In the example below, we got high search volume and paid difficulty for our keyword but a fairly low cost per click. Altogether, our search found that “Christian apparel” is a suitable keyword to go for in our web content since we want to rely more on organic traffic rather than paid-for clicks.


Step 4


Compile a competitor list

By this point, you should already know about the popularity of your product and have a rough idea of whether your T-shirt venture is worthy of your time and effort. That also means clarifying your approach to the web presence you want to achieve overall. From then on, you should continue digging deeper with your market research by painting a bigger picture of your niche and all your competitors


Many new brands tend to skip this essential step in their research because they feel threatened by the prospect of “competing” with other brands. Unfortunately though, if you haven’t already figured it out by yourself, the T-shirt industry is a rather competitive field with many big and small players reaching over to the same or similar target customers. 


This is why diving deeper into your competitor search is an absolute must if you want to get a crystal clear perspective of your niche and the viability of your T-shirt business idea. Ideally, you want to have as bigger list as possible, which should not go under 30 competitor entries and their respective web pages.



Step 5


Start building your brand presence 

After completing Steps 1-4, you will have gained much better confidence in your tee business and your chances of making it profitable. Doing effective market research does not, unfortunately, end there. It just shifts into a slightly different direction, which is also more exciting to newly starting entrepreneurs.


Step 5 is all about marketing and finding out about the key identifiers of your competitors. That means taking note of their tag lines and discovering your main message as a new brand in that market niche. This is actually a crucial step for your brand development since you should always strive to find unique identifiers that will help your T-shirts get recognized and ultimately sold to customers. 


We recommend that you make a list of 15-20 tag lines and start brainstorming ideas that represent your brand, unique selling points, and company ethos. 


Step 6


Social media advertising  

The next after carrying out in-depth reach on your marketplace and position in there is advertising your products. Before you get to head to toe promoting your content, however, you will also need to do your bit of research. This is called social media optimization and it’s a whole different ball game from the SEO you’d do for the search engines. 


Here, you need to be a lot more focused on creating engaging content rather than an algorithm-friendly one. For that purpose, you can use keyword tools on the internet that are made only for social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Pick your keywords that reflect your brand and have good engagement rates overall. It’s important to be creative but also fit into the template that appeals to the wider public! 


Social media keyword examples: Christian, Faith, Jesus, Women of Faith, Jesus Culture (between 15-20 keywords).



Final words

So, there you have it- all 6 steps that we recommend doing before starting your T-shirt business! Conducting your market research and taking time with it is critical for the success of your business idea. 


In our next blog, we will be talking about “differentiators” and how you can make your brand stand out from your competition. 


Stay tuned for more…