圖片來源:天下資料,劉國泰攝。

戶外活動正風靡全台,慢跑、騎自行車、登山與露營近年來呈現爆炸性成長。一年內,台灣就可以舉辦超過600場路跑活動,相當於每天就有1.7場路跑!單單台北市就有數百間小型健身房和慢跑俱樂部,河堤車道也經常可見自行車來往穿梭。戶外運動的蓬勃發展與運動服飾品牌的業務也因而相互成長。但很少人知道,提升運動表現的機能性紡織品製造技術正源自台灣。

本週的台北紡織展(TITAS)不但吸引了國際品牌買家和專業買主前來,更見識了台灣驚豔全球的紡織技術。展場中擺設了許多最新商品和運用方式,但唯有重要客戶在閉門會議中,才有機會見識到最亮眼的新科技。此種封閉的推廣方式所帶來的影響,並非只在貿易展才能感受到。其實,也造成了世界各地的消費者仍不知道:台灣是紡織創新的幕後推手。

台灣紡織擺脫夕陽命運的傳奇

過去30年以來,台灣已從低成本織品製造商轉型為先進機能紡織的領導者。經濟部指出,台灣的機能紡織品遍及全球,最大的應用就是戶外運動服飾,其中70%的機能性布料供應皆來自台灣。台灣紡織業的規模不容小覷,全台超過4,300多家紡織製造商,員工總數超過14萬人次,且2015年的總產值達到4,093億新台幣(約合135億美元)。

台灣的紡織品客戶包括世界知名的品牌,從Nike、Adidas到Under Armour都使用台製的機能紡織品。因為他們知道台灣供應商創新的速度與深度,對於每季上市的新一代運動服裝至關重要。並且台灣也能夠達到日漸嚴苛的供應商企業社會責任要求,以及擁有友善環境的生產力。

台灣不僅為運動愛好者製做冬暖夏涼的織品,更逐漸成為全球首選的環保紡織供應商。台灣紡織製造業是推動紡織創新的專家,利用不同回收和永續材料研發出各式織品,其中包含咖啡渣,甚至是海洋回收物此成就證明了台灣人的創造力,以及台灣帶領全球前往更友善環境的紡織品和紡織製造方式的能力。

安於現狀的潛在危機

然而,如果台灣無法在消費市場中建立聲譽,我很擔心台灣無法長久維持在紡織業創新的領導地位。雖然台灣在紡織業有不凡的成就,卻很少有消費者知道自己最愛的運動服都與台灣有關。消費者購買防風外套或瑜珈褲時,可以從產品外型感受到歐美品牌的風格,並從衣內標籤上看到越南或孟加拉等現今成衣生產大國。然而,儘管台灣是許多產品的製造材料和創新技術的源頭,卻鮮少有在消費者面前曝光的機會。

在我的經驗中,供應商不會為台灣紡織業在消費市場中缺乏知名度而感到煩惱。只要像是Nike和Adidas等品牌持續帶來大額訂單,許多團隊就無憂患意識地持續作幕後推手。但這樣的思維不利於產業的長期發展,也減少了台灣製造商與海外品牌的價格談判空間。

台灣紡織業在消費市場中缺乏能見度,導致製造商暴露於不必要的風險中──全球領先的品牌能輕易另尋更具有價格優勢的國家。但現狀最糟糕的是,儘管台灣是機能性、智慧和環保紡織的專家,新創運動品牌卻無法利用台灣在紡織創新和綠色生產的專業形象,來增加品牌說服力,讓台灣的經濟持續無法擺脫過度依賴代工出口的現況。

台灣能否承受錯失這個機會的代價?全球的消費者應該要知道台灣在高階機能性與環保紡織品的領導地位,就如同我們認為全球最佳的皮革來自義大利,而最佳的羊毛來自紐西蘭一樣。當消費者在購買用台製織品生產的戶外運動服裝時,應該要像在購買配有瑞士製的光學鏡片眼鏡時一樣,對其品質充滿信心。

善用品牌在消費者心中的力量,讓台灣成為紡織創新及和永續製造的代名詞

台灣需要的是一個策略性的長期推廣計畫,推廣台灣在機能性和環保紡織品創新的專家形象和生產方式。但行銷的目標群眾並不是業界人士,如台灣紡拓會已在進行的「Think Taiwan for Textiles」推廣計畫。我認為行銷活動應當鎖定主要已開發市場中的消費者,因為他們是機能性運動服飾的主要客群。

此外,尼爾森的一份調查報告也指出,全球的線上消費者之中,有55%的人表示他們願意以較高的價格,購買積極面對社會和環境影響的企業所提供的產品和服務。這個調查結果和台灣紡織大廠的做法幾乎完美契合。台灣與其他國家站在同一個起跑點上,並擁有搶先建立環保紡織品和永續生產方式標竿聲譽的機會。

這樣的聲譽會為台灣帶來多方的效益。如在消費市場中建立好口碑,將有助於業務成長、帶來更大的投資,進而提升創新力的良性循環。推廣計畫將有助於台灣與韓國及中國等競爭對手拉出距離,並建立起可影響國家數十年的聲譽,如同現今消費者在義大利長期大力推廣後,仍然保持對於皮革品質的信心。如此一來,不但能讓台灣成為創新紡織及全球永續製造的代名詞,也能以優良的聲譽為年輕品牌打下堅實的基礎。

身為品牌顧問,我總是會鼓勵客戶為自身品牌建立明確的品牌聯想,為其產品及公司建立差異化優勢。全球有哪個國家不想擁有機能性紡織品永續製造和創新的領導地位?台灣是少數有能力爭取此品牌聯想的國家之一,但目前全球消費者心目中缺少對於「台灣」這個「品牌」在紡織創新上的了解。現在正是台灣紡織業開始積極向外公開推廣的時候,讓全球的消費者認識台灣紡織業世界級的能力和對未來的企圖心。

本文為中英雙語呈現,以下為英文原文:

Who Puts the Performance in Performance Sportswear?

Outdoor sports are all the rage in Taiwan today. Interest in running, cycling, hiking, and camping has experienced tremendous growth in recent years. Last year alone there were more than 600 running races hosted on the island—that's the equivalent of a staggering 1.7 events per day! Taipei City is now home to hundreds of micro-gyms and running clubs, and the city's bike paths are overflowing with cyclists. This interest in outdoor sports has been matched by growing demand for branded performance sportswear. Little known to many, however, the technology and know-how that puts the performance in performance sportswear originates from right here in Taiwan.

This week the textile industry made its way to the Taiwan World Trade Center for the TITAS trade event, Taiwan's annual global textile trade show. Industry insiders from around the world met with Taiwan's manufacturers, equipment makers, and innovators to discover the latest in textile innovation from the island. Many of the booths had their newest wares on display, but the truly innovative technologies weren't out for public viewing. Instead, these technologies remained behind closed doors, available to only the most important industry customers. For Taiwan, this proclivity for closed-door promotion isn't limited to the trade show floor. Consumers around the world remain equally in the dark about textile innovation coming from Taiwan.

Over the past three decades, the island of Taiwan has transformed itself from a maker of low-cost fabrics into a global powerhouse specializing in functionally advanced textiles. Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs notes that more than 70% of the world's outdoor sportswear—the largest application for functional textiles—is currently made using performance textiles from Taiwan. Taiwan has more than 4,300 textile manufacturers employing over 140,000 people, and total production value reached NTD409.3 billion (USD13.5 billion) in 2015.

Customers of the island's textiles include the world's top brands. Everyone from Nike to Adidas to Under Armour sources their functional textiles from Taiwan. They do so because Taiwan's depth and speed of innovation is critical to bringing the next generation of performance sportswear to market each new season. These brands also choose Taiwan for the country's eco-friendly production capabilities; those that meet and exceed increasingly stringent demands for ethically sourced and sustainably manufactured fabrics.

Taiwanese manufacturers not only lead the world in fabrics that keep sports enthusiasts cool in summer and warm in winter, the nation is increasingly the de facto supplier of "eco-textiles". Taiwan's textile manufacturing lays claim to innovative textiles made from a variety of recycled and sustainable materials. These include fabric fibers made from oils derived from coffee beans and even trash reclaimed from the world's oceans. Such achievements are a testament to the ingenuity of the Taiwanese and to the capacity for Taiwan to lead the world toward more sustainable textiles and textile manufacturing practices.

I, however, remain concerned that Taiwan's leadership in textile innovation could be short-lived if the nation fails to build a reputation among end-consumers. Despite Taiwan's achievements, few consumers realize Taiwan's role in the production of their favorite sportswear. When one buys an outdoor hiking jacket or a pair of yoga pants, the brand on the outside signals the product's US or European heritage, and the label inside declares the country of production; nowadays that's likely to be Vietnam or Bangladesh. The name Taiwan, however, fails to appear at all, despite the fact that the product's material and much of the production innovation originated from Taiwan.

My experience tells me that Taiwanese suppliers aren't all that bothered by the lack of publicity. Many of them remain content to stay behind the scenes, so long as brands such as Nike and Adidas continue to bring big orders. Such a mindset, unfortunately, leaves Taiwan in a disadvantageous position over the long term. A lack of reputation among consumers diminishes manufacturers' bargaining power. Furthermore, this absence in publicity at the consumer level exposes Taiwan's manufacturers to unnecessary risks, should the world's leading brands decide to move their orders elsewhere in search of lower prices. Most damaging of all, however, is that despite Taiwan's mastery of functional, smart and eco-textiles, upstart sportswear brands from the island are unable to tap a national reputation for textile innovation and green production to grow their own brands. It's a reality that continues to keep Taiwan over-reliant on contract manufacturing.

Can Taiwan afford to miss this opportunity? The island should be known to consumers globally for its leadership in functionally advanced and eco-friendly textiles—much as we recognize Italy as home to the world's best leather, and New Zealand the home to the best wool. Consumers should be as confident in buying outdoor sportswear with textiles from Taiwan as they are in buying eyeglasses with lenses made in Switzerland. 

What Taiwan needs is a strategic, long-term promotional campaign to promote the nation's stewardship in functional and eco-friendly textile innovation and manufacturing practices. This goes beyond the "Think Taiwan for Textiles" campaign sponsored by Taiwan Textile Federation, that focuses its marketing solely on industry insiders. Instead, the campaign should target end-consumers in major developed markets; those who make the vast majority of functional sportswear purchases and, according to a recent Nielsen study, are "willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact". These ideals are in near perfect alignment with the offerings of Taiwan's textile manufacturers. Taiwan is in as good a position as any nation to build a reputation as the standard-bearer for eco-textiles and sustainable manufacturing practices.

Such a reputation would benefit Taiwan on many levels. It would contribute to a virtuous cycle, where a positive reputation among consumers would lead to further growth, which in turn would result in greater investment, leading to more innovation. Not only would such a campaign help distance Taiwan from rivals such as Korea and China, it could also establish a market position that could be leveraged over decades, similar to Italy's long-held repute for quality leather. Finally, such a standing would give young Taiwanese brands a solid foundation upon which to build their own brands as the Taiwan label becomes synonymous with innovative textiles and global-leading green production practices.

As a brand consultant, I never fail to encourage our clients to build a clear set of associations for their brand. These associations serve to build positive differentiation for their products and their company. Taiwan is one of the few countries in a position to own the association of the world's leader in functional textile innovation and as the epicenter of sustainable textile manufacturing. It goes without saying that such associations would be desirable associations for any nation. It's time to move beyond the closed-door promotion of Taiwan's textiles, and to reveal to the world's consumers the Taiwanese innovation behind their favorite brands.

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延伸閱讀

Mark的中文名字是「史孟康」,他在20多年前來到台北,帶領DDG團隊,和大中華區數百家企業合作,力圖打造具有國際競爭力的品牌。因品牌策略顧問廣泛接觸各產業的決策者,深刻感受到台灣社會和公司文化的脈動,結合國際的視野,發展出獨特的觀點。當他不在辦公室時,經常可以在山區看到他騎單車的身影。 Mark Stocker is a columnist on Opinion@CommonWealth. Mark has been leading DDG, a brand consultancy in Taipei and Shanghai, for more than two decades. His brand strategy consulting experience working with business leaders in Greater China gives him a unique perspective into Taiwanese corporate culture and social movements. He writes about opportunities for Taiwanese businesses to better position themselves internationally. When he’s not at work, he can usually be found biking in the mountains around Taipei.
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