Today, when we visited the company Mero & More to talk about the consortium, at first, I was quite confused. I did not quite understand how it worked, even after the presentation and explanation, but I think I now have it figured out. A consortium is a group of businesses that can essentially go to each other for advice and favors, but it is expected that in the future you will help others in return. An equivalent type of business in the United States is a consulting firm. Also, sometimes, companies will pair up and promote each other so that in turn both receive more business. Another similar type of company would be a travel agency, they give you recommendations of other businesses and use companies that will in return help the agencies later, if they have their customers use their services. When you join the consortium, you pay an initial membership fee then an annual one for the years following.
By joining the consortium, you are entitled to the benefits of being a member. This means any time you need help with anything, you know you have other businesses that you can count on. In the Veneto area, there is a consortium with 46 companies and about 30 consultants. However, when working with these 46 companies, you get access to the companies that they normally work with and this includes over 300 companies. For small startup companies, this is a great thing to get involved in, you get great advice and connections from companies that are already successful and receiving 5 to 20 million dollars in revenue per year. They sometimes refer to the consortium as an incubator because it helps small local companies grow to global successful companies. If a small company seems to be struggling they have the resources to help the company redefine its brand and reinvent itself as a company. In order for all of this to work companies first need to be educated which is why now there are institutes for people who want to start businesses and have careers within businesses especially in the fashion industry. Even if you are just looking to establish an international presence, they hire outside IT consultants to help you set up a website and make it possible for you to reach the market in other countries. The consortium can provide just about any type of help you could need to make your company a well-established, successful business.
The company that we visited today was a company within the consortium, Mero & More. This company is a production company in the fashion industry, but they also rent out their space for small companies that cannot afford to buy a factory to work in. The major product categories in the fashion industry is obviously the type of clothing whether it is a shirt, pants, dresses, or accessories, like scarves, hats or gloves Another product category would be the market they want to enter whether it be high end, middle grade or low cost and low quality products. This firm’s major competitors are not eh other firms that it is in the consortium with even though they do produce the same products, they understand that the market is big enough for the both of them especially because now they can expand internationally. When asking other companies for help they do not give details about their products so they don’t have to worry about the other companies stealing their ideas and with this mutual understanding, the consortium works well. So, in a way they are each other’s major competitors, but they know that they both have a common enemy in foreign producers in countries like China where labor is cheap so therefore, they can make their products cheap. For firms in this industry, a good opportunity is to be part of the consortium. Since it does really help businesses to expand and become successful it is a smart business move to surround yourself and gain advice from those very successful businesses already in the consortium. One of the unique challenges in the fashion industry is that it is always changing, you need to constantly be coming up with new pieces. This can become a problem for the production companies if they have no new designers coming to them or if their existing designers are not producing new designs. In todays, fast fashion markets you need to be ready to move from one season or trend to the next and quickly before it changes again.