Merchandise Product Development: Career Research Report

[Thanks to PB for sharing the following career research report on becoming a merchandise product developer and related work information.]


I have been focused on the health field since I graduated high school, and now I would like to try a new career in Merchandise Product Development. I have decided on this career because I enjoy the fashion industry and would like to be more behind-the-scenes creating the product. This industry changes with every season, so I will continue to encounter new fashions and have the chance to create new ideas. Also, traveling is a perk of this job to foreign countries where the product is manufactured. This job is very different from the health industry. It incorporates the business and art sides, which I am interested in.

I will have to research more into the background of a Product Development person, but I think that I will have to start from the bottom and work my way up. This made me a little hesitant because I am looking for a career that I may jump into after college. I do not mind working at a clothing store, but it does not pay the bills. Therefore, I could major in business or fine arts and work in a retail store part-time while showing my interest in product development. I know two people who are in this line of work and both are satisfied with their careers.

I know a small part of what a Merchandise Product Development person does. Since I did an informational interview on someone who has a similar job, I feel I have scratched only the tip of the iceberg. I know that in this career, one must be willing to work long hours, travel, be able to work in a team and/or alone, have good communication, time management and multitasking skills, and be computer savvy. Qualities that would make you more marketable is to have a background in fashion, business, and to know a second language. I think I know the basics of what this career entails and by completing this assignment I will have further my knowledge.

In Product Design and Development, I would work with Merchandising and Sourcing teams to creatively design and technically develop a product. I must know about upcoming fashion trends that will have high quality, match the company’s brand and work within the budget. In this industry you can expect to be busy when preparing for the new fall or spring season, which means working 40+ hours per week and sometimes with no breaks. Attire is business casual, preferably staying current with fashion trends. In this position you must be proactive and work with a team or as an individual because the market is always changing. In order to be successful in this career there are certain skills one should have.

Based on my research, persons employing for this position should have a background in fashion with a major in fine arts, design or textiles. A business or marketing background is also useful in this position. Companies look for candidates whose histories include: design experience, trend/market awareness, ability to demonstrate high taste level and creativeness, and technical knowledge in specific software. Multitasking is also a quality that would help when managing numerous departments.

There are many opportunities in Merchandise Product Development. If I have the background stated above, I will be able to freely explore all of these options. According to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) website, with a Merchandise Product Development degree I could apply as: a product developer/brand manger, merchandiser, assistant technical designer, trend analyst, assistant designer, pre-production coordinator, spec technician, sourcing assistant, fabric/trim buyer, or licensing coordinator. In addition, I could try for a buyer or merchandise coordinator position. I need to decide what I truly want to focus on, but I also need to consider the job outlook for these positions.

After reading the U.S. Department of Labor website, I found that there is an expected increase in positions opening for sales and related occupations. Most of this growth is caused by the need for retail persons, but I foresee additions in the merchandising and product development field. There will be a decline in production occupations, people whom are hired for manufacturing and assembling goods, so there may be upcoming challenges in the fashion industry. There are no specifics on job outlook for this position, probably because it is too specific!

I expect to be paid as an entry-level person, but as you move up so does the salary. The salary is dependent upon past experience, but ranges from $40,000-$100,000. Besides salary, I think other benefits include traveling, free merchandise, and promotional parties for the brand I would be employed with.

On, I have found an abundance of fashion associations. I did not know so many existed. Listed below are just a few: American Apparel and Footwear Association, Color Association of the US, National Association of Retail Merchandising Services, and Organic Trade Association. There are some associations for countries that produce garments like India, Brazil, and Australia.

After researching this career I know it is going to be a long journey to my destination. Time is one thing I have, but to not be guaranteed a position is somewhat of a downside. If I pursue this career, I will have to attend a four-year college and work part-time in a retail store. It will take courage, perseverance, and patience. I am convinced that this is possible, but I am undecided if I am willing to put effort into this. I know I am well informed on this career and now the next step is taking a chance.


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