From Fast Casual To Fast Fashion.

How Speed, Quality, Price and Choice Are Driving Consumer Behavior.

If you were born before 1990, you might have frequently heard the saying or remember the poster, “Faster, Better, Cheaper, Pick Two”. Pretty simple - you can have a lot but you can’t have it all, but the feeling was that two out of three ain’t bad. Fast forward to today and if you’re not providing all three, people may not choose you at all. But even more importantly, a fourth component has now been added - choice.

Consider the Faster, Better, Cheaper paradigm with the rise of McDonald’s. One could very easily argue that McDonald’s in the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s did a pretty good job of delivering on two of the three (I’ll let you determine which two). However, look back over the last 15 years and see how Chipotle, a brand initially supported by McDonalds, changed the paradigm to include the fourth option - choice. All of a sudden, consumers didn’t have to compromise - they could have it all, plus some. It was faster, it was better, it was cheaper (value being in the eye, or stomach, of the beholder) and it gave you amazing choice. But all in a very controlled environment that allowed for the brand to drive incredible efficiencies and sales.

Then there’s the fashion industry. Since the 1990s, there has been a 500% worldwide increase in clothing consumption. This macro “overnight” shift can easily be seen by looking at one of the world’s fastest growing fashion brands, Zara. Rather than consumers waiting for each “season” to buy the latest clothes from both mass retailers and specialty stores, Zara can design, produce and deliver a garment in 15 days. And we’re not talking just t-shirts here. As a matter of fact Zara is delivering some products so quickly that some couture brands can’t keep up. Once it’s on the runway for a major fashion house, Zara can have a parity product in stores in two weeks, rather than four to six months later. This all stems from regular creation and rapid replenishment of merchandise that depends on incredibly insightful information both from its customers and its own internal teams. Sounds sorta like a Chipotle line - five colors (proteins), seven sizes (add-ins), all in very controlled environment that allows for the brand to drive incredible efficiencies and sales.

What the new component of choice does now is allow for both the brand and its consumers to give each party what it wants while paradoxically allowing each to control the process even more - the brand provides options that it can price up and down per demand or promotion and the consumer gets to create what is important to him or her, and might possibly be willing to pay a little more for the right to do so, or not, which, after all, is their…choice.

So, what choice are you truly providing to your customers and how are you both benefiting from it?