How ingredient brands are using technology to drive innovation in textiles.
Comfort alone doesn’t cut it anymore. After the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have made it clear that they want everything they buy to do more for them in various ways – right down to their apparel choices.
Savvy shoppers are putting their purchases under the microscope, the Wall Street Journal has noted. There’s been an overall rise in the importance of consumer health and wellness. Add to that a heightened preoccupation with climate change, and you have all the makings of a full-scale evolution in purchasing habits. Accordingly, buyers are reevaluating their spending and demanding more.
Take the concept of sustainability, for instance. Research published in Forbes suggests that highly conscientious – or “empowered” – consumers are putting their money into brands that have stepped up from a sustainability standpoint. In fact, about two-thirds of all empowered buyers said they expect to increase their efforts to champion eco-friendlier brands. Amid this environment of changing consumer behavior trends, specialty textile creators have two choices. They can do what they’ve always done, and risk being left behind. Or they can acknowledge that clothing expectations have evolved from easy-care to self-care and make plans to differentiate their products through initiatives like investing in ingredient brand partnerships.
Exploring the impact of ingredient co-branding
Ingredient branding isn’t a novel concept in general. It’s common in technology, a la Intel’s branded chips or 3M’s patented adhesives. However, working with ingredient brands in textiles is less commonplace. The one exception is the popular athleisure wear industry, which is on a trajectory to nearly double revenue growth projections between 2019 and 2024. Without a doubt, the rise of athleisure wear has driven the addition of popular ingredient brands to fabrics such as antimicrobials and infrared light technologies.
Nevertheless, the textile industry has a long way to go before reaching a level of saturation when it comes to developing apparel industry partnership agreements with ingredient brand companies. The surface has just been scratched in applying ingredient brands to create apparel that does more, such as recycling human energy.
The textile industry has hit a plateau for many years in terms of differentiation between products. Ingredient branding can help companies inch ahead of their competitors and satisfy shoppers’ desires to buy products better for their health, their wallets,
and the environment.
The benefits of forming co-branding relationships between textile makers and ingredient brands go far. For example, designers and manufacturers that work together can help bring greater transparency to the supply chain. Consumers expect transparency when it comes to understanding who makes their products, how those products are made, and where the raw materials come from. Working with an ingredient brand allows fashion companies to satisfy shoppers’ inquiries.
Another benefit to working with ingredient brands is being able to add unique differentiators to a clothing line. Case in point, some ingredient brands promise wellness technology. As long as these claims are backed by peer-reviewed publications, they can become compelling reasons for consumers to choose one piece of apparel over another.
A final upside for textile manufacturers partnering with ingredient brand companies involves the opportunity to create a story behind a product. Smart storytelling can impact buying decisions, increase consumer confidence, and ultimately impact point-of-sale profits. Certainly, it takes time to educate the public on any new technology. However, once trust between sellers and buyers has been established, it can be leveraged to drive high loyalty.
Forming strong apparel brand and ingredient brand bonds
Like all partnerships, formal relationships between best-in-class ingredient brands and apparel brands require thoughtful consideration. After all, it demands patience from all parties to gain traction among buyers. Consequently, both brands need to feel they can communicate freely as they move toward simple and practical shared goals. At the same time, they must remain open to continuous improvement as they move through the process of encouraging shoppers to buy their merchandise.
Remember: Consumers have an enormous range of choices. Plus, they’re constantly increasing their self-knowledge. Businesses need to be willing to stay abreast of changing sentiments and make pivots as needed, requiring open-mindedness from both the apparel and ingredient brand. Otherwise, co-branding strategies may fail or lack momentum.
With these caveats in mind, textile companies seeking ingredient branding relationships should take careful note of potential partners. For instance, they will want to ensure that any technology has been proven and commercially tried, as in the case of wellness technologies backed by science and validated for safety by respected independent governing bodies. The technology should also be easily understood by average consumers. Otherwise, it might be difficult to urge shoppers to switch loyalties.
Overcoming challenges to co-branding partnerships
Will there be stumbling points along the path to commercial success between apparel companies and brand ingredient providers? Absolutely. However, both parties can bypass possible pitfalls by respecting each other’s expertise and resisting the temptation to make shortsighted buying decisions. Frequently, co-branding partnerships fail because of a corporate push to put profits above quality – and patience.
Another issue that can befall ingredient branding partners is a breakdown of the technology story. If sales and support team members can’t answer “Why should I buy this product?” they’ll stall efforts to move a product into the spotlight. As with most partnership-related challenges, the way to move past any concerns is to concentrate on over-communicating. The less friction and greater understanding between the branding partnerships, the more likely the product will be to capture the imagination of consumers seeking more from their apparel.
The textile industry has hit a plateau for many years in terms of differentiation between products. Ingredient branding can help companies inch ahead of their competitors and satisfy shoppers’ desires to buy products better for their health, their wallets, and the environment.