#SME Suppliers and consumer tiredness of same-same-y

Picture: Tom Sodoge (https://unsplash.com/@tomsdg

Multinationals have enjoyed massive growth on the back of globalised consumer desires. Highstreets the world over now sport a familiar array of global chain stores and products, from Starbucks to H&M, Apple, Pizza Hut or Adidas. Fashion is a flagship industry that has benefitted from globalization. Telling where someone is from, certainly from the clothes they wear has become very difficult. Fast, global fashion is dominating the look of city dwellers the world over, from cheap and cheerful of the Primark or Forever 21 sort to coveted luxury brands like Louis Vuitton.

However, recently there is a quiet trend emerging with consumers wanting to consume more slowly and buy something more unique, with more (local) soul. Scandals in for example fashion supply chains have driven social awareness. Social media desire to put oneself in scene in a more unique way, but also discovery of previously unknown small brands. Consumers may still buy something made halfway around the world, but it may now be an indie designer they discover on Instagram or whilst travelling and gives them a feeling of being unique and an explorer rather than another copycat.

So how is this relevant to SME Suppliers? Well, clearly as a global giant it is both hard to convince consumers that you are unique, exclusive or locally relevant and to credibly create the tone of voice of the indie/artisan producer. Buying off other large manufacturers, producing in factories shared with x other corporate giants or advertising through shiny expensive campaigns fails to impress a “glocal” consumer. So after consolidating supply chains for product but also communication, you may need to disassemble again and go against the bigger volume, lower cost, further away, faster, higher margin, louder campaign logic of the past.

SME suppliers can bring that touch of real and local to the product. Staying with fashion, how about creating a line incorporating unique buttons made by a fashion student start-up? Not only is the product more unique, consumers also love to hear and see about those companies’ stories and the production process on social media. Cheaper and more genuine than the x-th shiny add on big billboard. Here goes content marketing.

A number of fashion giants have recognized and reacted to the trend. Creating limited local editions of still globally branded, but more exclusive goods. Bringing some production back onto home shores for more premium collections. Or collaborating with small, sustainable materials producers to make fashion less fast but more social.

Fashion is a great example, but there are many other industries that can benefit from collaboration with SMEs to create a product that speaks the voice of the consumer in a more believable way

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