Bangladesh Apparel Industry Needs to Set Strategies to Secure Competitiveness in The Global Apparel Market. (Part 1)


Mohammad Nurul Alam

It is important to set strategies for Bangladesh apparel manufacturers to be relevant in the global apparel market to survive in a highly competitive business environment. Because the apparel industry is constantly evolving and subject to change in multiple times which has been witnessed in recent years.  The situation during the pandemic and situation Russia-Ukraine war typically includes financial instability in the global economy that causes rapid changes in the apparel business. These changes typically include lifestyle trends, social trends, cultural and environmental influences, etc. But Bangladesh apparel manufacturers hope to meet 100 billion by 2030 and this is still a matter of uncertainty that how much they are ready as well as will be competitive in the global market. To be the one and strongest competitor in the global market Bangladesh apparel industry should set some strategies to secure future business. They are likely to be as below –

1) Emphasis on the capability-building process of both people and technology

For immediate changes for better profitability, this is important to focus on enhancing the capacity building of both people and technology. Adopting new technology and hiring new skilled people sometimes resulting higher costs and in some cases fail to provide the optimum level of expectation. So building capacity among the people and technology on existing setup is more practical and can be effective as well.

2) A mechanism for evaluating the performance of the manufacturing regime.

This is more likely to relate to the above that a mechanism of evaluation has to be set just to enhance performance such as reducing various levels of waste, using less energy, particularly saving natural gas, also use low-cost or no-cost energy, for example, solar or rainwater.

Furthermore, the manufacturing unit can set data analysis based on changes in mechanism and received outcome to define effective result that offers the best evaluating performance.

3)Increasing the performance capabilities of the products

To ensure the performance capabilities of an apparel product there are three prerequisite issues that need to consider –

  • Understanding the customer,
  • Managing customer requirements and
  • Implement customer requirements.

According to the Kano Model for identifying the most important features when creating a product is incorporates five categories: basic, performance/satisfiers, excitement/delighters, indifferent attributes, and reverse attributes. Users find a degree of importance in each of these features. An apparel product that lacks certain basic features could suffer from reduced functionality and irritate users.

In general product, performance depends on the right level of functional features in the right product quality. But garment manufacturers of Bangladesh lacking to improve the performance capability of products and are not much keen to set plans for evolution.  So increasing the performance capabilities of apparel products by the Bangladesh apparel manufacturer need to take short-term and long-term strategies.

4) Offering more favorable product prices for comparable products

There are many different pricing strategies, but four common methods are more crucial aspects that determine the apparel businesses’ success.

  • Competitive Pricing,
  • Cost-plus Pricing,
  • Markup Pricing and
  • Demand Pricing

Among four Competitive Pricing’ is highly important to apparel retail giant who gathers competitive price intelligence and utilizes it to offer the cheapest price in the market.

As the Bangladesh apparel industry is keen to grave low-cost products in a large volume that invites enormous global competitors for a best competitive price. The existing competitors like china, India, or Vietnam if considered less strong in the context of basic product prices that actually Bangladesh offers then newly rising countries like Myanmar, utopia or some other African nation can be a more stronger and new threat for the best affordable price.

5) Development of an effective work environment

People are the key role player in the Bangladesh apparel industry where human resources are considered more powerful than adopting new technology. So this is highly important to take responsibility to ensure people in production feel safe and comfortable while at work and also feel satisfied with their roles. Creating a positive work environment, open line communication, facilitating opportunities, and offering training and development programs can increase efficiency and productivity.

6)Workers in the apparel industry cannot afford to remain uneducated as new technology demands new skills.

According to Bangladesh’s labour force survey (LFS) in 2016, In terms of educational attainment, nearly 60 percent of all workers had at least completed their primary education. Among women workers, 29.1 percent had no formal education or had not completed their primary education, far higher than among men (17.9 percent).

The above survey conveys only formal education while technical education for the garment sector remains unknown among the workers even mid-level management is sometimes considered to be the worse example of lacking formal education or technical learning from any of the educational institutions. 

In an article Research Gate publication says Chinese firms have started to invest in in-company training of their workforce in modern technology and managerial skills. On average, Chinese textile firms give 70 hours of training each year to an experienced worker as opposed to 32 hours in Canada and 10 hours in India (Chandra et al., 1998). This survey also found that about 16% of Indian firms did not provide any training to new employees as compared to 1.8% in China.

Though the above is a scenario of the Indian apparel industry and so undoubtedly it can be said that Bangladesh might be under-rated than that of the Indian situation. Hence the individual Bangladesh apparel industry has to take initiative to offer skill development programs for the workers as well as for mid-level management. 

7)Operational challenges include reducing manufacturing & delivery lead times

At the beginning of the 1990s, Bangladesh apparel industry observed a lead time of 120-150 days but in 2007, it was reduced to 30-50 days and at present, it is 90-100 days while China requires only 30 days due to their textile and other backward linkage facilities as well as export friendly management and supporting policy.

It is quite challenging for the Bangladesh apparel industry to reduce the lead time though the industry has taken multiple initiatives to offer short lead time delivery bureaucratic barrier at Chittagong port for the imported garment raw materials halted the lead time improvement progress. Operational inefficiency and lack of power supply, insufficient natural gas supply, and oil price hikes make the progress slower in the delivery lead time and resulting losing business in the global competition.

So to stay competitive in the global apparel market, Bangladesh needs to improve its lead time with the help of government policy and with the collective efforts of all stakeholders. 

8) Need to stop price conflict among the regional, small-medium, and large players manufacturers in the industry.

In Bangladesh context small-medium industry runs after a lack of capital or funding, retaining an inadequate management team, a faulty infrastructure or business model so they could rarely survive at competitive prices with big industries where Composite mills or large plants lack the flexibility to produce variety or small orders at low costs that causes brands to turn their face for a new manufacturer in the global arena. As a result, Bangladesh apparel industry losing competitiveness in the global market.

There are another conflict has been observed that Bangladesh apparel industry offers varieties of product prices based on region for example Narayanganj, Gazipur city, or Port city Chittagong. As a result, retailers are picking the price benefit by playing tactical methods based on comparative regional prices. So a common and collective price range has to be set by the Bangladesh apparel manufacturer to be competitive in the global market.

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