In the fashion industry, a product manager plays a crucial role in overseeing the development and lifecycle of products within their portfolio. Their responsibilities extend from conceptualising new products to managing their successful launch and ongoing performance in the market.
Finding that top performing individual can be a challenging task in such a competitive market. So, to help you, we’ve rounded up all the things you need to know about product manager recruitment below.
What does a product manager do?
Here are the key responsibilities you would expect a product manager in the fashion industry to have experience in:
Product Strategy and Planning: A product manager in fashion develops a comprehensive product strategy aligned with the brand's vision, market trends, and target audience. They conduct market research, analyse customer needs, and collaborate with designers and merchandisers to determine the product assortment, pricing, and positioning.
Product Development: The product manager coordinates with various teams, including designers, manufacturers, and suppliers, to ensure the timely development and production of fashion products. They oversee the entire product development process, from initial concept sketches to prototyping, sampling, and final production.
Trend Analysis and Forecasting: Staying up-to-date with fashion trends and market dynamics is crucial for a product manager. They conduct trend analysis, monitor competitor activities, and assess consumer preferences to identify potential product opportunities and make informed decisions about product designs, materials, colours, and styles.
Cross-Functional Collaboration: Effective product managers collaborate with cross-functional teams, such as design, marketing, sales, and supply chain, to ensure smooth communication and coordination throughout the product lifecycle. They work closely with designers to translate concepts into viable products and collaborate with marketing teams to create compelling product messaging and promotional strategies.
Product Launch and Performance Analysis: Product managers are responsible for successful product launches, creating marketing plans, and coordinating with sales teams to maximise product visibility and sales. They also track product performance, analyse sales data, gather customer feedback, and make recommendations for improvements or adjustments to optimise product success.
On top of experience in the above responsibilities, when recruiting a product manager to your business, it’s essential to be aware of the traits that make an effective product manager.
Here are the key skills required for a product manager:
Deep Industry Knowledge: An effective product manager in the fashion industry possesses a strong understanding of fashion trends, consumer behaviour, and market dynamics. They have an eye for aesthetics and a keen sense of style, enabling them to make informed decisions about product design, assortment, and positioning.
Analytical and Strategic Thinking: Product managers need strong analytical skills to gather and analyse market data, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions. They possess strategic thinking abilities to develop long-term product strategies, set goals, and allocate resources effectively.
Excellent Communication and Collaboration: Product managers interact with various stakeholders, both internal and external. Effective communication skills are essential to collaborate with designers, manufacturers, marketers, and sales teams, ensuring a cohesive product vision and successful execution.
Project Management: Product managers need to be skilled project managers, overseeing multiple projects simultaneously and managing timelines, budgets, and resources efficiently. They should have the ability to prioritise tasks, solve problems, and handle unexpected challenges during the product development process.
Customer-Centric Mindset: Understanding customer needs and preferences is crucial for success in the fashion industry. Effective product managers have empathy for the target audience, conduct customer research, and use insights to guide product decisions, ensuring that their offerings meet and exceed customer expectations.
Adaptability and Creativity: The fashion industry is fast-paced and constantly evolving. Effective product managers are adaptable, able to embrace change and adjust strategies based on market shifts and consumer demands. They also demonstrate creativity and innovation, bringing fresh ideas to the table and pushing boundaries in product development and marketing.
What are the challenges to product manager recruitment?
Recruiting a high-performing product manager in the fashion industry can be challenging due to various factors specific to this fast-paced industry.
Of course, finding a top tier individual is never easy in any industry, but with the speed and constant evolution of fashion, it can have its own challenges. Let’s take a closer look.
Competitive Industry Landscape
The fashion industry is highly competitive, with numerous brands vying for top talent. Finding qualified candidates who have a strong background in fashion product management and a proven track record of success can be challenging. The limited pool of experienced product managers with a deep understanding of the industry can make the recruitment process more difficult.
Evolving Skill Set Requirements
The fashion industry is constantly evolving, driven by changing consumer preferences and trends. To stay competitive, fashion businesses often require product managers who possess a diverse skill set that includes trend forecasting, data analysis, sustainability practices, e-commerce, and digital marketing. Finding candidates with a well-rounded skill set that aligns with the company's specific needs can be a challenge.
Attracting and Retaining Top Talent
Product managers are in high demand, and businesses are in constant competition to attract and retain such talent. Companies may need to carefully consider their retention strategies in order to ensure they keep the very best talent within their business.
Cultural Fit and Brand Alignment
Fashion businesses often have distinct brand identities and cultures. Finding a product manager who aligns with the brand's values, aesthetic, and target audience is crucial. It can be challenging to identify candidates who not only possess the necessary skills but also have a genuine passion for the brand, its vision and the products they sell.
Balancing Creativity and Business Acumen
Product managers in the fashion industry need to strike a balance between creativity and business acumen. They must understand the artistic and aesthetic aspects of fashion while also possessing strong analytical and strategic thinking skills. Finding candidates who can navigate both creative and business realms can be a challenge.
Global Market Understanding
The fashion industry operates on a global scale, with brands expanding into international markets. Recruiting a product manager who has a deep understanding of global markets, cultural nuances, and regional trends can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Companies often seek candidates with international experience or a proven ability to adapt to different markets, which can be a rare find.
How can you overcome these recruitment challenges?
While it might be difficult to find and recruit a product manager with that very specific and extensive skill set, it’s far from impossible. To help, we’ve identified the key things you should consider when starting your journey to recruiting a product manager.
Developing strong employer branding to attract top talent.
Building a network and engaging with industry professionals through events and collaborations.
Offering competitive compensation packages and career development opportunities.
Conducting thorough interviews and assessments to evaluate candidates' skills, cultural fit, and alignment with the brand.
Providing ongoing training and professional development opportunities to nurture and retain talent.
Collaborating with recruitment agencies specialising in the fashion industry.
Here at SPS International, we can provide you with expertise on recruiting to product manager positions, and help you to retain these clients too. We’ll use tried and tested search methods to find only the best candidates, with the specific skill set to deliver high performance in your business.