“The consumer is pushing for better quality. People are now thinking before buying. They want durability and value. They are trading up and will only buy something that is very nice. They don’t want to waste things,” said Rock Li, Vice General Manager at Orient Hongda (China).
The move upmarket was a recurring theme at SPINEXPO Shanghai (Sept 3-5). Manufacturers repeatedly reported that their better lines where selling best - outperforming their less expensive products.
The mood at SPINEXPO was energetic as buyers look for - and found - products that were both inspiring and commercially viable.
"Our higher end products are doing the best," said Felice Erdal at Yarn Mavens. "People want something special ... we're seeing strong demand for fancy yarns."
"Quality is now replacing luxury," said Noel Chapman at Best Leader. "Consumers know what they want. It's no longer about selling to the consumer. Today, consumers will find what they want."
Consumers can search online or choose from an increasingly vast number of options - online, offline, domestic brands, foreign brands - and even bespoke. Nothing is out of reach - for long.
Quality - in terms of materials, workmanship, durability and design - has moved from "nice to have" to "must have" for a growing number of consumers.
“Brands without high quality will lose,” said Andreas Diebenbusch, Director Flat Knitting Yarns at Suedwolle Group (Germany). Reducing quality to achieve short term gains will result in long term losses since consumers are now very quality conscious, he cautioned.
This is tying in with the move towards 'decluttering' and even minimalism. There's a mindset shift towards wanting to search for just the right thing, rather than the habit of buying lots of stuff. The satisfaction is coming from finding that perfect sweater or special coat that not only looks good, but looks good on you.
Trends have now simply become suggestions, not hard and fast rules.
"Consumers are looking for everyday performance," said Mr. Chapman. They want practical attributes such as shape retention, durability, anti-pilling, easy-care, and stain repellency.
"People will pay more for something that they really like - that they feel is worth the price," he added.
The key is convincing consumers that the product is actually better. This where traceability, certifications, and other means of validation have become essential.
"Branded ingredients" and certification are becoming important in proving to consumers that a product that says that it's good quality, is what it claims to be.
"It's all about 'credentials'," said Mr. Chapman. "A brand name is no longer enough. It needs to have product quality to back it up."
Why We Recommend SPINEXPO Shanghai: This is the go-to place for sourcing knitwear and yarn that combines fashion with commercial viability. The fair offers a comprehensive group of well edited yarn and knitwear collections that focus mainly on the mid-to-better market. Spinexpo is also a wonderful resource for trend and technical information thanks to several dynamic trend forums and installations throughout the fair.
Read the complete FRONTLINE REPORT: SPINEXPO Shanghai