Our latest update to our Digital Go-To-Market Review series for brands looks at the apparel and footwear sector. (Past reviews we’ve conducted in this series include beauty, consumer electronics, consumer packaged goods (CPG), and home goods.) Brands selling direct to the consumer are fairly mature in this category, and we saw some interesting features, such as:

These features are differentiating, but it’s still most important to get the basics right. The top four attributes that US and UK online adults research when purchasing a clothing or footwear product are cost, quality, availability, and product features.

When the brand website does not lead on price, has out-of-stock items, or doesn’t offer enough information on quality or product features, consumers may buy products on other channels such as online marketplaces. But when consumers buy products on online marketplaces versus a brand website, brands can wind up with arm’s-length relationships with those customers. Other considerations include less control around placement, plus potential proximity to gray-market sellers for brand goods.

So what’s a brand manufacturer to do? Take control.

To help them do that, Forrester’s Digital Go-To-Market Review series evaluates a set of brands in a specific category to see how well they are positioned to thrive independently. In this review, we evaluated 27 apparel and footwear brands on five elements. Specifically, for each brand, we reviewed its:

  • Direct-to-consumer strength.
  • Brand visibility online.
  • Distribution and e-control.
  • Organic consumer enthusiasm.
  • Product innovation.

From this review, we rated seven brands as best-in-class: Adidas, Columbia Sportswear, Levi’s, Merrell, Nike, Patagonia, and Under Armour. To learn more about what makes these brands stand apart and best practices for this sector overall, please see the newly published summary report, “Digital Go-To-Market Review: Apparel And Shoe Brands, Q2 2021.”

To learn more about our brand manufacturer research and the Digital Go-To-Market Review — and what your company should do based on these findings — please email Madeline Cyr (mcyr@forrester.com), me (skodali@forrester.com), or your Forrester account manager. If you’re a client, please schedule an inquiry with me to discuss our findings.