Advice to New Silk Exporters

By Kurki, Marja | International Trade Forum, July-September 1990 | Go to article overview
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Advice to New Silk Exporters

Kurki, Marja, International Trade Forum


If you wish to penetrate the international market for silk products, and do so on a profitable basis, you must give close attention to certain basic marketing techniques and be familiar with the special features of this trade. Many silk companies in developing countries could be taking greater advantage of the export opportunities that exist for silk items such as scarves, ties and printed fabrics. By following foreign market trends closely, improving your products in line with these trends, presenting your ranges in a systematic manner and providing the necessary marketing support, you should be able to command higher prices for your goods and thereby increase your export profits.

What does marketing include?

Successful export marketing of silk products involves five key factors: the product itself, price, service, personal sales work and promotion. For many new silk-producing companies wishing to enter export markets, problems exist in all of these areas. Your product may not be as good as it should be, and therefore you must set a low price; your service to the buyer may not be at the level required; and personal sales work and promotion may not exist. This situation can be changed over a period of a few years, if you start working on the problem now. Each of the five marketing factors can be approached in a logical way, leading to an improved exporting position. The following are some suggestions on what you can do.

The product

Your product is the number one issue that you must tackle when you decide to develop successful export business. After improving the quality of the product you can proceed to add a fashion touch to it. Then, when this is accomplished, you should prepare a collection. Finally, you should consider developing a trademark for your product to make it known on the market.

To develop and improve your product, you need team work between your sales people and your designers. Your product must be designed from the very beginning with the final customer in mind - the one who buys it in a shop. You have to decide what your company's line is: Are you making inexpensive products for the mass market, or high-class products? You have to decide if you are producing them for girls under 20 years of age or career women over 25. You should know if your main customer is in the United States, in Europe or in Japan, because the tastes in these markets are very different. It may be necessary to have different collections for each market area. No successful company makes any products without knowing for whom they are meant.

A collection

When you have defined your target market segment and adapted your product accordingly, you should develop collections to market to those sectors.

What is a "collection"? It is a group of designs especially produced for a certain season, i.e. spring 1991, autumn 1991, spring 1992. A collection must give customers a good representative idea of what your company can offer them.

The "total look" of the collection is of utmost importance. If it is not "correct," that is, if it does not immediately give customers the wish to know more about you and to acquaint themselves better with your products, the collection has not been developed in the right way. The customers in this case will not be interested.

The collection should consist of only first-class products that are designed for a specific selling season, spring 1991 for instance. Old or second-class products should not be included. Forecasts of colour and other fashion trends exist for each season. There is a definite change in fashion twice a year. This change must be clearly seen in each collection. A collection must not include any colours or lines that do not suit the specific season for which the collection is made.

A collection of silk articles - whether scarves, ties, blouses, shirts or other items - should be composed of enough, but not too many, designs.

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