Interview with Rana Sidahmed

Rana Sidahmed
Rana Sidahmed
Global Creative Director
Avery Dennison RBIS
Avery Dennison RBIS

How is sustainability used as a tool to strengthen a brand or retailer’s branding activity? Has Avery Dennison measured this to show quantifiable or tangible results?

People want to know who made their clothes, what they are made of, whether they are manufactured ethically and sustainably. It is an opportunity for brands to be honest and connect on a deeper level with their consumers who are much more aware today than they were even a couple of years ago.

We are making strides to quantify the environmental and social impact of our work by grading products on a sustainability scale using the Higg index which measures facility outputs and sets a barometer of transparency to measure impact of brand and product. We are using future fit business benchmarks to grade our products and to quantify how sustainable they are, while developing a roadmap to increase their sustainability. This ultimately allows us to put a system in place so the sustainability of the portfolio increases over time.

What are the new trends in packaging and sustainability?

Brands are always evaluating packaging. Reduction is the key. When packaging cannot be eliminated, other alternatives are implemented where packaging can be reused, or is made from renewable or recycled materials and may even be compostable.

What are the broad branding trends among top apparel retailers worldwide?

Uncoated paper stocks, bio inks and simple, refined, natural-looking materials are a trend brands are after, because of a push toward sustainability and a desire to show consumers they care. This is no longer 'greenwashing,' but that the look and feel of a garment helps portray that it was in fact made in a sustainable way. The concept of personalisation is blowing up as well. Customers want the feeling of something having been created just for them, rather than being mass produced. There is a human element involved in the process. These small personalisations are becoming the expectation. It is no longer one-size-fits-all. Overall, brands are looking to simplify their message and their branding.

Can branding solutions like using external embellishments drive sales?

Yes, absolutely. External embellishments are the most important feature across all countries for branding. However, the most preferred option differs across item type and across brands. External embellishments are most critical on denim, with the pack patch, while heat transfers highlight brands on performance tops.

Which top three factors influence the purchase decisions of clothing shoppers?

This depends on where you are regionally and the type of product. However, external embellishments are generally the most important feature overall. For fashion tops, interior labels rise in importance, particularly in China. A majority of consumers are willing to pay more for products produced in a more socially and environmentally responsible way.

What is the future of branding in apparel retail?

The apparel and footwear industry is heading in the direction of less is more, so there has to be a vital reason for any piece of branding on a garment or accessory. Brands have to be mindful about placement, density, and material. It is a more strategic approach that moves beyond haphazardly placing different branding elements on a piece of apparel. Branding is as much about sustainability as it is about competition.

How do you see the business of retail evolve in the next five years?

The way we shop is changing and retailers are evolving to support multichannel platforms, customer service via chat bots, marketing with artificial intelligence (AI) products and more.

The shopping experience must also be seamless between channels. There is an evolution between brick and mortar and online shopping. The former is becoming smaller and shops are more like showrooms for people to touch and feel products, creating an experience space for them to build interest in a product and purchase online. We are going beyond the product and retail brands are becoming content providers, influencers and experience platforms.

Published on: 10/05/2017

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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