Is product market research worth reading? A fashion industry leader has some thoughts ...

On LinkedIn recently I read a fascinating post from Joanna Williams, a CEO in the fashion industry. She is insightfully critical of fashion-trend reports which claim to be use research data to predict fabric, colour and styles 12-15 months ahead.

These reports deemed as data-backed get circulated to everyone in the fashion industry, everyone has access to the same information, it is adding up to a mindless assembly line mentality deprived of originality as every store has the same product …

This problem of data-driven product research is not just for the fashion industry. When we all have access to the same information, it takes real innovation to be different and to create goods of lasting value.

  • Predicting trends 2-3 years out is tough in any business and the most predictable trends will be the least interesting.

  • Data backed reports are only as good as their data, so we need to be very well informed about the data being usedand have confidence in it.

  • Reports created in this way will always be, at best, a lowest common denominator overview.

So what can we do? Joanna Williams has advice for the fashion industry …

… ditch the one size fits all trend report unless you can measure the volume and source of the data or better yet make fashion so original that everyone wants to copy you 3 years later.

The software industry would do well to take her counsel too, don’t you think?