I recently attended a kid’s fashion show at SMX Aura, a welcome break from my business conference routine. I learned that from 3,000 entries, 50 kids were shortlisted and trained to walk the runway. They were all so cute. I suddenly entertained the idea of wanting to be a grandfather. In the meantime, my family will have to make-do with Bailey, our good-looking Labrador.
Gingersnaps, a Filipino fashion brand for children and maternity wear, has gone global, with stores throughout Southeast Asia and the Middle East, done via appointing distributors in each country. I often snapped Instagram pictures of familiar Filipino brands like Gingersnaps, Bench, Penshoppe, Jollibee, Potato Corner and the likes as I am proud that they have gone international.
While I have given marketing talks and seminars in many countries like Singapore, Bali, Japan, India, Jakarta, and Vietnam, it is only recently that I actually managed to set up a company outside the Philippines, in nearby Indonesia. Known as PT Noah Health Indonesia, a direct selling company promoting the Bio Mineral Pot, a 3-in-1 water purifier-mineralizer-alkaline maker. It is an off shoot of the success of Waters Philippines, the leading premium home water purifiers in the Philippines, and the only brand that offers installment plan to consumers even without checking account.
I know it is not easy to start, much less, scale up a business. It is even much harder to expand internationally, so kudos to company founders Sabrina and Jerry Uy on their 20th anniversary. This couple not only succeeded with Gingersnaps but also expanded to their natural adjacency when they launched Just G clothing for tweens and teens. Their original target market from two decades ago grew up and had different needs — to be fashion-forward and eclectic. I often read my daughter’s (style author Tricia Gosingtian) blog about Just G as she not only likes the product designs of Just G, she likes the sincerity of the creative director Sabrina Uy, whose encouraging and caring style once made a personal difference to Tricia when she needed it most.
The fashion industry is one tough industry to launch a big brand and profit from it. Many interested parties have entered this industry via outsourcing production or even use the online channel as an option, but only those with an effective business model, including good product design and an effective distribution network have succeeded in their sales reaching a respectable volume, coming from demands imposed by manufacturers for their own economies of scale. A previous visit to the Canton Fair in China reveals that the minimum order quantity per design is in the 3,000 pieces range, nothing compared to the 150,000 pieces minimum volume ordered by the world’s number one apparel company, Zara, distributed in over 1,800 stores worldwide.
Competition in the fashion industry is quite cutthroat, especially with the emergence of powerful brands occupying huge and beautiful retail spaces secured by mall owner SM, such as Forever 21, Uniqlo and H&M that sell products not just at low prices but that regularly follow the SM mandate to create sale and promo events to drive excitement and mall traffic.
Consumers also have many brands to choose from, with some brands even offering zero-percent interest. With the emergence of low cost carriers, many consumers have also been traveling outside the Philippines, thus competing for the consumer’s share of wallet. Many online stores have international deliveries as well though the return rate of apparel and shoes appear to be much, much higher than beauty products.
Whenever I pass by a Gingersnap store, I look at the power of niche marketing, as the Gingersnaps founders have specialized on a narrow focus – fashionable kids and maternity wear, outside the more cut throat competition for adult clothing, thus their window and store displays are always a good sight to look forward to. But Gingersnaps is not just about niche marketing, it is also about operation competency as their Market Market outlet won the Store of the Year Award, as well as the Store Operations Excellence Award of the Ayala Malls in the past.
I can’t help but feel proud about the entrepreneurial triumph of another married couple, who has decided to unselfishly share their entrepreneurial opportunity to others by now allowing the franchising of their stores. What are you waiting for?
Josiah Go is Chairman and Chief Marketing Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders Inc., the leader in marketing, sales and innovation training in the Philippines with the widest curriculum in Asia Pacific. Follow @josiahgo via twitter for daily marketing tips. To check the live seminar appearances of Josiah Go, please log on to www.mansmith.net
(Thank you to BusinessWorld for featuring this article in their paper).