Facing the end of a 2021 shaped by uncertainty, the CEOs of fashion brands deal with the difficult decision of managing a strategic planning that allows brands to minimize risks in 2022. While sustainability integration has shown during this crisis to play a critical role in supply chain performance, the investment to consolidate the sustainable development of a brand must be made from a deep knowledge of the key data that allow brands to understand which areas demand priority attention.
Strategic planning settles the direction of the business in the coming months as well as the resources to achieve it. This involves specifying the financial items assigned to resources such as people, assets, and expenses. The distribution of the investment will play a key role to achieve the stability of the business and the achievement of the goals settled in the planning.
The investment to consolidate the sustainable development of a brand must be made from a deep knowledge of the key data that allow brands to understand which areas demand priority attention.
However, defining a strategy doesn’t only mean looking back and analyzing business productivity over the last year. As an industry that has been hit by events since the beginning of the pandemic, the textile sector must be proactive and have the ability to predict possible risks arising from future situations. If sustainability extends to the entire business model, corporate strategy will need to define which areas work as cornerstones of the business to succeed in 2022.
The sustainable growth of a fashion brand will be shaped by the investment made in the following corporate bases:
The supply chain
Knowing in detail the state of the supply chain, with a complete traceability of the supply system, will give the brand the analytical capacity to detect costs and risks. The action plan should focus on the following:
- Strategic location. As we discussed in the article “how to save the fashion industry from the current supply crisis”, closer production means a faster response ability in case of contingencies, getting rid of long-distance transport networks, as well as greater control over production and cutting expenses related to logistics.
- Production planning. It will be essential to analyze the resources required in addition to the real production capacity of the brand. Planning has to focus on what can be manufactured with the resources available during a specific period of time. During this stage, the CEO must work closely with marketing and sales in order to obtain sales forecasts. Scheduling should optimize performance measures, such as production cycle lengths and on-time delivery.
- Sourcing strategy. Developing the evaluation and verification of the suppliers with whom it is decided to work guarantees that all the agents involved in the supply chain are aligned with the brand’s requirements at an environmental, social and economic level. Writing a code of ethics and professional conduct will ease the definition of the guidelines that must regulate the behavior of these suppliers, contractors and external collaborators.
It’s the element with which the brand will be presented to the market, allocating investment to extend its life cycle, as well as to minimize its impact, will be key to guarantee the sustainable development of the products offered:
- Ecodesign. 80% of the environmental impact of a garment is defined at the design stage. It will be important to integrate environmental aspects into the product development process, balancing ecological and economic requirements. Investing in ecodesign involves considering the garment’s environmental impact throughout its life cycle.
- Respectful materials. Choosing raw materials with low environmental impact, from local suppliers, which also have the possibility of recovering through recycling once they reach their end of life, will be essential for the sustainable development of the product.
- Skilled labour. Investing in human capital is based on recognizing the work of the people involved in the production chain. Providing decent salary and working conditions is essential for brands that want to promote their sustainable growth.
- Planning. Good work takes time, the manufacturing process must be respected. A sustainable management of production seeks to optimize delivery times, not saturate the manufacturing chain.
- Production control. To guarantee the quality of the product, it’s necessary to invest in control systems that detect possible failures and foresee problems in production to reduce costs and risks.
The marketing strategy
In many cases, investing in sustainability begins with the marketing strategy. However, it’s important that all communication efforts are supported by provable practices. Transparency plays a key role in this area.
- Responsible communication. In addition to implementing a comprehensive sustainability plan, it must also be communicated. It’s an added value that increases the trust that the public places in the brand. As long as honesty prevails and ambiguous messages aren’t used with the intention of misleading the consumer. Greenwashing is not welcome.
- Promotion of ethical consumption. Fashion brands must assume part of the responsibility of motivating the consumer to start in a more conscious consumption. Launching awareness-raising messages will increase the value of the sustainably manufactured product.
- Progress demonstration. It’s not enough to send responsible messages, demonstrating with facts and figures the evolution of the company in terms of sustainability will be the true guarantee of commitment. Having technologies, such as that provided by BCOME, that integrates the sustainable performance of products in the e-commerce sites and makes this information available to the consumer, is a direct window to the sustainable development of the brand.
- Spreading the message. In addition to the product, there are multiple elements to approach a more responsible business model. The configuration of the stores, the distribution systems or the packaging used are some examples. Everything can be part of a global strategy that complements the activity of the brand and communicates the corporate values.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Investing in a CSR plan that includes all the objectives, actions and commitments defined by a brand to demonstrate its link with environmental and social issues can become an action plan that eases the achievement of corporate objectives.
- Goal setting. They must take into account all stakeholders related to the company, from employees to its customers and suppliers. It is important to dialogue with these stakeholders and integrate their concerns, problems and expectations into the CSR plan, aligning them with corporate commitments and values.
- Implementation of the plan. Once the goals have been set, a series of measures and actions must be established. Together with a deadline, a person in charge and a methodology.
- Performance measurement. To evaluate the effectiveness of the plan, KPIs must be defined to determine the success of the measures developed.
- Creation of the CSR report. A record must be kept, preferably annually, of the actions that have been developed from the brand and the goals and impact achieved. It’s a communication tool that can make the brand’s commitment known to customers, suppliers and the rest of society.
The end of 2021 is approaching and it is time to dust off the plans that were pending months ago. Sustainability will be a critical issue for the fashion industry during 2022. At BCOME we can help you draw up your strategic plan and contribute to achieving your goals over the next year. Remember, in terms of sustainability it’s not important to be perfect, it’s enough to be better than yesterday. Would you like to talk? Contact us!