IT WAS once enough for even the keenest trendsetters to get their hands on something the minute it hit the shops.
But now snapping up a product as soon as it is on sale is considered too late, as more people turn to “pretailing” – the art of getting in on new products before they are officially launched.
Crowd-funding ventures, such as Kickstarter or Crowdfunder.co.uk, give those in the know the chance to cash in on new products well in advance of the release date, according to a report by Trendwatching.com.
The report claimed crowd funding has become a way for people to access new products early by becoming investors in an innovation.
“Consumers indulging in ‘pretail’ are driven by the thrill of being early, mixed with the thrill of finding an exciting or useful product, especially if it’s something quirky or so niche that it would have never made it down a traditional brand’s production line,” said the report.
Pretailers looking to find the latest inventions and designs invest usually small amounts of money on crowd-funding websites in a new business venture that catches their eye – often giving them exclusive access to the product as a trial or prototype.
However, if a new brand does not reach its target funding, the money is automatically returned to the investors it did attract and the project is deemed a failure. Crowd funding has become big business in recent months – growing 81 per cent to $2.7bn (£1.73bn) in 2012, according to the latest industry report published last week by Massolution.
Some sites, such as Crowdsupply.com, have branched out into directly selling goods that have been successfully funded.
Scottish firm Cahoonas, a men’s underwear brand aimed a creating a tailor-made fit available in a “left” and “right”, as well as a waist size, this week raised more than £5,000 on Kickstarter – from investors from as far away as Switzerland and the US.
A total of 78 people – more than three-quarters of the company’s Kickstarter backers – have bought “pledges” which include one free pair or more of underwear – an early way to get hold of the product. Other “pledges” – which do not include a free sample of the product – have not proved to be as popular.
Simon Phillips, the entrepreneur behind Cahoonas, said: “I’ve never heard it called pretailing before, but it makes a lot of sense.
“The people who have invested in my product are from all of the world and the vast majority of them, I have no idea who they are. But they want to get their hands on the product first. I’m shipping pants to as far away as Australia, to people who have invested from there.”
Mr Phillips himself has used Kickstarter to back other products in order to access them first.
“I’ve backed a few other projects on Kickstarter – and that is exactly the reason I’ve done it – to get hold of the product first,” said Mr Philips.