Shopping Behavior Survey Highlights

January 25, 2008

2007 National Shopping Behavior Study

 A survey on shoppers’ behavior during 2007, conducted by KPMG and Wiese Research Associates for the Gordman Group has some important highlights to consider: 

1.       Retailers who are gaining share-of-wallet are winning by being in-stock with the right merchandise for their customers. Price continues to be a very weak second to selection. 

Retailers who take the time to truly learn their customers’ needs and deliver quality products, in stock when the customer wants them, will always do well of course.  But particularly in apparel, where the offer has been lacking, selection is certainly key vs. price.  My wife would have paid a lot for a warm sweater that wasn’t a ¾ sleeve, cropped cardigan this holiday season. 

2.       88% of consumers are very concerned about the environment and are willing to pay for environmentally friendly products 

If sustainable, eco-friendly, environmentally responsible, etc., are core values for you brand or company, it will clearly benefit you to emphasize this in all internal and external marketing.  However, if these are not truly part of your company values don’t pretend they are or you will be easily found out and exposed by today’s social media-using consumer.  I am concerned that “me-too” marketing may dilute the real potential for this trend to lead to real change in how we protect our environment if it leads to consumer fatigue.  Keep it real. 

3.       52% of consumers checked the country of origin before making a purchase and 31% did not buy 

I believe that this is a temporary situation because the countries of concern, especially China, will certainly do whatever they need to do to reverse these concerns over time.  In the short term, companies with valid “local” pedigrees should prosper.  Again, retailers & brands need to be careful not to overdo the marketing lest the message become lost too soon. 

4.       “Fit” is the primary driver of apparel purchase; designer/brand name are unimportant 

This is no surprise to me, based both on my unscientific experiences with the women in my life as well as my experience as a department store executive.  The cache of a particular label for apparel has been slipping for awhile except for the most exclusive brands like Hermes, Chanel, etc.  Apparel manufacturers and retailers experiencing the most success are providing good design at reasonable prices, but even then, the woman is rarely going to buy something that doesn’t have a great fit.  As our nation has grown heavier, fit becomes a more difficult variable for manufacturers to deal with.  Those that can find a solution to the fit question, and successfully market that solution will find great success. 

5.       Retailers’ advertising had little influence on shopping behavior or timing of purchase 

This is perhaps the most difficult fact for retailers to respond to.  If the customer isn’t coming in because of my ads, why should I advertise?  First, remember that a survey is only as good as the question.  The customers may say that ads did not bring them in, but the ads may still be effective at driving behavior even if the customer doesn’t realize the affect.  Second, the customer may only think of traditional ads (TV/radio/print) when answering the question.  The fact is that “advertising” now must include all on-line marketing including social media that may not even be directly created by the retailer, and these are driving more and more shopping behaviors.  The answer is not to stop advertising, but rather look at the totality of your marketing efforts and measure ROI wherever possible. 

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! strategist

Click here to read the Executive Summary.
 (Clicking here will download a PowerPoint presentation from the Gordman Group.)

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