- Danielle Wightman-Stone |
High street fashion retailers are missing out on an annual spend worth 9 billion pounds through not engaging with shoppers who are increasingly researching fashion choices before purchasing, according to new research.
Pragma, the strategy consultancy part of the St Ives Group, has found that online and mobile sources are increasingly important during the research phase of the shopping journey for female consumers, with 30 percent of shoppers actively receptive to personalised email marketing.
While 26 percent of the 2,000 surveyed female shoppers said that they use Google Shopping to research a purchase intention, while adding that physical stores remain the most important source of inspiration. This is shown in the popularity of click-and-collect services with 68 percent of those female shoppers polled using the service to pick up their online orders.
With new and emerging technologies disrupting the fashion market, Pragma states that retailers have focussed their attention on developing multi-channel propositions that reflect how shoppers today use mobiles and the internet. However, its research shows that to leverage the 9 billion pound opportunity with the market, retailers need to re-evaluate their marketing content to focus on product attributes over the brand image.
High street fashion retailers missing out on 9 billion pounds annually
As part of the research, Pragma segmented the UK market into six key fashion segments, of which the largest opportunity comes from the ‘stylish but cautious’ segment that is on average 41-years-old, who spend 780 pounds a year and typically shop at Marks and Spencer. In particular for this segment, impulse buying is down, with 42 percent of shoppers researching the style, size and price of clothes before purchasing online or in-store. In addition, of these purchases, 67 percent are driven by product attributes rather than brand image. This means brands that are not communicating with shoppers at the point of research with product-focused content are currently missing out on this huge section of the market.
Stores continue to remain relevant for this segment, 53 percent spend in-store, with customers prioritising product as their key purchase driver, and sizing and fit topping the list, according to 91 percent of respondents. When it comes to navigating, our qualitative research found that the in-store experience needs to excite this customer with a take on current fashion trends, and not overwhelm them with too much choice on the racks.
Rosie Hartman, consultant at Pragma Consulting, explains: “For brands looking to tap into this underserved market, they must go back to basics to engage with this fashion consumer. Brands must have a point of view on the latest fashion trends, and translate this through a high-quality, well-fitted product, and present it in curated collections in clearly laid out outfits to educate and guide these customers to purchase.
“The findings reveal the huge opportunity for brands currently trying to serve the largest segment of the female fashion market, who are frequently changing their path to purchase by browsing mobile applications, social media and being more open to in-bound marketing if the content adds value. With the Christmas results currently being reported by brands such as M&S and Next, our research highlights the ways in which they must find new ways to engage their target shopper, with a focus on the attributes of the product over the brand.”
The research also suggested things that the popular brands could do to engage with the ‘stylish but cautious’ shopper. For instance, Zara it states should design and plan ranges to be cohesive, as these female shoppers like ‘buildable collections’ that can be easily interpreted. While Oasis should concentrate on using mannequins, display and visual merchandising to help customers interpret trends, which could be assisted by having store staff showcase the wearable trends.
To attract and engage with the ‘stylish but cautious’ shopper, Pragma states that it is all about getting ‘back to basics’ - have product appeal, physical clarity, showcase guidance and education, be reliable, and feature a relevant message.