Is your glove line in need of a refresh?
What about new products ... is there a need for improvements to a current line ... or for a new line entirely?
Sales and customer feedback is the best barometer of where you are versus where you need to be. And here's a 5-step process you can use for planning ahead and closing any gaps.This is a 50,000 foot view but hopefully gives you some fresh ideas for your product planning process.
Your Existing Product Portfolio: Identify the GapsTake a look at your existing product portfolio and think about a short / long term product plan.
As you do, ask yourself ...
1- Are my products fulfilling the consumer need?
Any product manager or buyer worth his or her salt will know the product features and attributes that are most important to the consumer. Protection from the elements? Safety? Comfort? Other technical performance features?
If you are uncertain, simply spend a few hours reading customer reviews and letters and you will know for sure.
2- Gather market insights.
How do you stay on top of trends? Where do you gather a strong sense of your target customer?
Your daily/weekly/monthly calendar should include:
- Daily: Visiting trend sites and reading product specific publications -- we like the Sourcing Journal and Textile Insight, for instance ... but there are many other information resources depending on your specific category.
- Weekly or monthly: Shop retail, stay on top of competitive product developments. There is really no substitute for visiting retail and getting out into the read world. Most of us don't do this enough!
- Twice Yearly: Visit category trade shows -- in our industry, the Outdoor Product Show is a good one, as well as MAGIC, and others.
3- Gauge where the "white space" is.
This is as much art as science, and where the finely developed "gut" of a good merchant or product manager becomes important.
Steps 1 and 2 above should form the basis for taking on a new direction or addressing a new customer segment, but there is no substitute for the instincts of a seasoned merchant who understands their category, the consumer, and the intersection of "innovative" and "saleable". And in our opinion working with a knowledgeable glove manufacturer with experience in a range of industries helps too!
4- Develop a "line plan" -- bucket your products into existing, new and future needs.
- Some ideas will be feasible, evolutionary improvements to the current line. Others may be new to your company, but important to close a product gap.
- Still others will be game changers that require new process, engineering or textile innovations.
We recently conducted a line review for a motosports brand, but the same process works regardless of category.
5- Work with your ops team and/or suppliers on feasibility of new and future products.
Your internal team should have the depth and breadth to do a complete and thorough review as outlined above. If they don't, especially in a more specialized category like gloves, it may help to get a fresh point of view from an outside specialist.
This is where a progressive glove supplier and highly experienced technical glove design team can help.
Fill in gaps in knowledge with component suppliers, retailers, your glove supplier and technical glove design team -- all of whom should have a strong point of view and experience with the process outlined above.
Why It Sometimes Helps To Get a Fresh Point of View
Hopefully, this will give you an overall view of where you are and guide you where you need to be.
Your internal team may have their finger on the pulse of the marketplace. But if they don't, a capable supplier does ... both horizontally across the many categories they work in, and vertically up and down the supply chain, from textile and component suppliers through the manufacturing process.
If you need a new resource to help with this process, get in touch. We can help you define and address the gaps.