This Fall, In-Store Is Still In Fashion

Source: Reuters

October 2015

POLL: FALL FASHION CONSUMERS OVERWHELMINGLY WANT TO SHOP IN STORES 

Shopping for fall fashion has several common threads among American consumers, according to a new poll—the strongest of which is an overwhelming preference for in-store purchasing.

The Ipsos poll of more than 3,000 Americans, commissioned by Synchrony Financial, showed that most plan to shop for fall fashion for themselves or others, and just 34 percent said fall fashion shopping is not on their list.

For those who are fall fashion shoppers, the in-store experience was by far the most preferred among all age groups—even millennials. Seventy percent said they most prefer shopping in a store, 26 percent favored online purchases and a mere 1 percent chose phone or mail order as their way to buy.

These findings align with other research recently published by Synchrony Financial. Judy Lahart, Market Research Leader notes: “Digital tools play an important role with apparel shopping, but for many shoppers there’s still no substitute for being able to touch and feel before buying more fashion-forward items.”

Poll respondents did cite digital technology—like websites, apps and email alerts, as being the most useful tools in their fall fashion quests. The largest percentage of those polled—31 percent—say they get most of their information about fall fashion from retailers’ websites and apps. Just 12 percent say word-of-mouth intel is what they rely on most. And the top three shopping tools they said would be most useful to them are (in order): price-comparison apps, email/text alerts about discounts and virtual dressing rooms.

“Mobile is an important enabler of convenience as customers increasingly desire a more seamless shopping experience,” Blake Nordstrom, co-president of Nordstrom, noted in the retailer’s Q2 2015 call. “Of the US population, two-thirds own a smartphone and roughly one-half shops on their device, presenting a meaningful opportunity for us, with over 90 percent of our customers using smartphones.”

JCPenney has also turned to mobile as a way to lure customers in, noting that they’d made “significant updates in our iPhone and Android apps over the past year,” according to Christina Voss in Media Relations. 

Click to expand infographic. 


 

Making apparel accessible

One not-so-shocking poll finding is that the majority of those 55 and older (51 percent) plan to skip fall fashion shopping, while just 1/3 of all Americans say they’ll forego it. But that doesn’t mean stores aren’t trying to cater to them still. “We are an incredibly democratic brand and see everyone from babies to grandparents in our stores every day,” Ivan Wicksteed, CMO of Old Navy said. “We don't target older customers specifically but see a lot of them in our stores because the environment is easier to shop and our clothing selection is more accessible than many of our competitors.”

But there was one surprise—celebrities aren’t the powerful arbiters of fashion you’d think they’d be. If Kim Kardashian wears a dress, it won’t in fact sell out. Most shoppers aren’t influenced by celebrities or what they see in magazines. Only those shopping for someone else besides themselves, their children or significant others (friends or potential romantic partners, for instance) were slightly more likely to be swayed by the stars in making fall fashion purchases.

“Customers today are looking to a new crop of influencers for style inspiration,” Wicksteed noted. “The influence of Hollywood celebrities as style icons may have diminished but the influence of YouTube celebrities, for example, has exploded, as evidenced by the 10 million views of our recent #Unlimited Back to School video featuring young talent from the social world.” And his point is a great one: Style bloggers, with their millions of Instagram fans and Facebook followers, can often have more pull than a celebrity. They have more credibility and a loyal fan base.

The importance of price

So what’s the number one factor that influences a purchase? Price, of course. For many shoppers, it comes down to affordability, followed by a garment’s comfort, style, durability, and then the celebrity angle a distant last. “Sales are important and continue to drive short term traffic,” Wicksteed said. “However, if a brand is not aspirational, no amount of discount will persuade people to shop with you.”

Arming consumers with the power of choice can be a significant sales driver. “In line with delivering a more personalized experience, shoppers report the ‘ability to select their own sale items’ as the most important aspect of the customer experience,” Lahart mentioned; referencing a recent "Retail Customer Experience" whitepaper published by Synchrony Financial.

For retailers interested in attracting fall fashion customers, the poll data shows that using the power of digital technology to draw shoppers into stores, and enhance their experience once inside could be an alluring strategy.

For more insights from Synchrony Financial, click here
 

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