T-shirt Business Pro Guide (Part 4): Industry Analysis
What makes my brand competitive?
You will often see the term competitive advantage being tossed around business blogs or social media, without meaning much. Having been brought to the mainstream, this popular phrase creates the wrong impression in many newly starting entrepreneurs, who see competitiveness as an after-thought, rather than a primary driver for establishing a successful model in the formative planning stages.
In our previous blog posts of this series, we helped the reader define and refine their target market. Once again, this is a mandatory step you need to complete before getting knee-deep into your industry analysis. This first part of the market research will give you an overview of your potential customers, their location, buying habits, and your position as a new T-shirt business in the wider picture.
If you have carried out Parts 1, 2 & 3 of your market research studiously, you’d now know who needs your products and whether your concept requires some additional tweaking, to make it fit the demand of the customers in your niche.
Having identified your buyer’s persona and your competition by compiling a long list of brands (as discussed in blog 2), you can now finally beckon to the question: How do I compete?
Every successful brand has at least one Unique Selling Proposition (USP) that makes them stand out from everyone else in that marketplace. This is also referred to as a competitive advantage and it helps businesses create an effective selling strategy, with which they can reach certain customers via online and offline advertising. When you come to think of your own USP, you should avoid duplicating what’s already put to good use. Otherwise, you risk taking the tough job of competing with well-vested brands that apply the same approach successfully over many years on end.
Unique selling propositions that are not used by anybody should ideally be where you should be heading with your industry analysis. You also need to make sure that your ideas are doable in the long and short term of starting your T-shirt business.
Defining Your Competition
So, here we’ve compiled a list of 7 questions that will help you filter the good ideas when hunting for USP within your market research. You will find sample answers, which we included in the questionnaire to make the whole decision-making process easier to understand. We chose a T-shirt brand that sells Christian apparel to teenage girls and young women who need faithful but stylish garments, suitable for everyday wear.
Q1: How difficult is it to start your T-shirt business from 1 to 10?
Answer: To start a T-shirt business in this niche is only averagely difficult, which can be judged from our competitor search in the second blog of this series. We gave it a score of 5 since there are fairly few competitors in the geographical area of our interest.
Q2: What is the average weight of your product? Is it easy to ship and source?
Answer: Our product is light, which makes it easy to ship around the country or source the fabrics from anywhere in the US.
Q3: What USPs are taken for granted and which features are underrepresented by other brands in the industry?
Answer: After conducting our online search in greater depth, checking what our competitors are doing, and differentiating their USPs, from looking at their websites, we came to some pretty important conclusions! It seemed like the majority of our competitors were selling comfortable apparel, but none of them was offered a range of colored prints.
Another important finding we made was that most of our competitors were offering garments to the mass market, apart from 3 or 4 suppliers that could potentially be our most fierce competition in the golden goose market segment.
Q4: What approaches, used by your competition, can be avoided to make your brand stand out?
Answer: We considered every aspect of the supply chain of our Christian apparel T-shirt business and we decided that the best approach would be to do what most brands avoid doing. It was clear that the majority of our competitors were shipping from overseas and cutting down on labor costs, hence the lower prices of their garments targeted the mass market. To make our brand catch the eye of customers in our niche, we decided to take the smart approach of sourcing our garments locally and boosting the local economy.
Q5: What specific features can be raised above the industry standard?
Answer: To be able to answer this question with the much-needed accuracy, we had to snoop around for product information on our competitor’s websites and directly through purchasing their items online. This is a critical step in your industry analysis endeavor since it gives you a realistic idea of unique features and propositions, which your competitors are making to the customer.
After comparing different competitors and the appearance of their garments, we decided to focus on decoration, fabrics quality, and the actual cut of the apparel. On top of that, we chose to take our return and exchange policy a step further in order to make our brand seem more welcoming to new customers.
Q6: What new selling points can be created, that nobody has ever used before?
Answer: This question is a continuation of the previous one. Here, we needed to brainstorm ideas around the answers we gave before and everything we saw during our competitor analysis venture. At this point, it will be much easier to come up with one or more USPs, having seen everything that’s offered by other brands. We went for vibrancy, colors, fonts, and fashionable designs that break the mold but still manage to deliver exactly what our target customer needs.
Q7: What is the major reason behind target customers not turning into actual customers in the specific industry?
Answer: For our brand, we chose to target Christian teenage girls between the ages of 16 and 25. It seemed like a lot of them find Christian apparel slightly dull and not “cool” enough to wear around friends or in their social circles.
After giving it some thought, we decided to target another group of women above the age of 55, since we wanted to increase our chances of getting noticed and generating more revenue in the early stages. To satisfy the demand of this customer, we have to make sure that our garments are skillfully cut and ultra-comfy. From our market research, we discovered that older women fancy bling designs and sumptuous decoration that makes them look glamorous.
Industry Analysis Conclusion
Based on everything we read, tested, and contemplated during our industry analysis, we came down to the conclusion that we are experimenting with two different lines of Christian garments. One was targeting young girls (age 16-28) and it had to respond with a look that made them feel cool, natural, and in fashion! We decided to emphasize on colors, vibrancy, and cut to make the garments look appealing to all potential customers. For our marketing approach, we choose to advertise directly to customers and to their parents via social media channels such as TikTok, FB, and Instagram.
The second line of garments that we considered to fit the purpose of our competitor analysis was targeting women aged 55 and over. Our Christian apparel had to be extremely comfortable, available in large sizes, and finely cut to match the liking of our customers. We also decided to make the garments look more flashy by giving them a “bling” feel that women at this age seem to enjoy wearing. For this target group, we choose to advertise only on FB.
Now, we hope that you have a better idea of the questions you need to address in order to define and refine your competitive advantages! If need more information on how we performed our Industry Analysis, do not hesitate to contact us!