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Sweat the small stuff if you want to stand out

I’m sure you’ve noticed -- it’s getting to be a pretty crowded marketplace out there. Where a few years ago you used to have three choices, you may have closer to 30 now. This saturation surely weighs down the decision-making process. So, how do you wade through the deepening sea of product and emerge with sanity intact? Pay attention to the details.


I’m sure you’ve noticed — it’s getting to be a pretty crowded marketplace out there. Where a few years ago you used to have three choices, you may have closer to 30 now. This saturation surely weighs down the decision-making process. So, how do you wade through the deepening sea of product and emerge with sanity intact? Pay attention to the details.

Yes, there’s one camp of consumers that buys out of necessity. And, there’s the other camp that buys out of desire. The necessity buyers are the techies, pure adventurers, the building blocks of our industry. They buy a product based on its functionality, durability and quality. The buyers acting on desire are more likely to be influenced by fashion and trends. They buy more because of the attractiveness of a product and how it will make them feel. The trick is to simultaneously appeal to both camps, without watering down either aspect.

The products that are most likely to do this are those that sweat the small stuff. They not only perform to the highest functional levels, but the fit is perfect, the fabric is comfortable, the trims coordinate, and the color is attractive. The most successful products have thoughtful and unique features and surprises. They may include interesting textures or stitching details, an interior print or ergonomic design details. They may tell a compelling story, thus educating the consumers, or allow for customization, or include a personal touch from an athlete or artist. Anything that is both unexpected and welcome.

In an industry where many products provide a similar functional quality, the finishing details are what make the true winners stand out.

© Dawn Rae Knoth 2007 (reprinted exclusively by SNEWS® with permission)

Dawn Rae Knoth is a colorist & surface designer specializing in the outdoor industry. She provides clients with valuable market direction information allowing them to succeed as industry leaders. Her services include trend forecasting, color merchandising and textile design. Crave, Dawn Rae’s free newsletter, highlights emerging trends and interesting products. For further information on Dawn Rae’s services or to receive the newsletter, email her at knoth@dawnrae.com or call 541.389.2525. Visit www.dawnrae.com to view her work.