Fashion brands in danger - not listening to customers is bad for business

Consumer demands are increasingly driving fashion retail, shows new research among 1,000 regular fashion consumers undertaken by Attune Consulting, a global solution provider to the fashion industry.

The research shows that consumers are increasingly taking control of how they interact with their favourite brands and are therefore dictating the shape of the high-end fashion market. Competition, social media and mobile communications serve only to give them more power, which fashion retailers must recognise.

Richard Emmott, Director of Retail Europe- Attune Consulting, said, "As mobile technology plays an increasingly important part of consumers lives, so is it impacting the customer/ service relationship, while demand for a continually high quality of customer service is pushing retailers to re-evaluate their methods of customer engagement."

The clear message to retailers is : customers want to engage and they want to do it through multiple channels. This will increase pressure on retailers to bring their systems and processes together to enable this, as Attune says in the research.

The research shows some key concerns for the modern consumer

Shoppers have become more price critical since the economic downturn, with around one in three regular clothing shoppers saying they had switched buying habits and are dropping branded clothing in favour of value items.

When asked if they would switch to an unknown but cheaper brand, nearly half of online clothing shoppers (48%) said they would move from a loved brand to something unknown for a better deal.

Critically, the report found that fashion consumers are choosing to buy fewer fast fashion items, while saving for more expensive garments and shoes.

75% of respondents agreed that the reason they shop in store as opposed to online was due to being able to handle the goods before purchasing. But,  when asked what more retailers could do in stores to improve, they said that faster check out times, loyalty schemes, increased stock, more variety and a fun place to shop were all very important :

  • Faster check-out times – 541 responses
  • Run loyalty schemes – 486
  • Carry more stock – 368
  • Make the store a more fun and exciting place – 259
  • Changing stock more often – 236
  • Other – 144
  • Offer me personal service – 129
  • Know it is me when I come to store – 55

By far the clearest trend from the survey was the growing demand for multichannel engagement. Nevertheless, there was a clear need for stores to revamp the 'theatre' of shopping and make the experience much more streamlined.

For online retailers, the significant change required, in order to improve customer satisfaction levels, was greater transparency of delivery charges and ensuring these costs are displayed to the consumer upfront, with no hidden surprises when reaching the end of the checkout process.

Consumers also stated that they would like to be offered regular promotions and discounts, even though this was not an effective decision factor in brand retention. From the retailers perspective, having loyalty schemes, cards and promotions could allow retailers to capture the necessary data required to really understand the customer,  and keep up with the growing demand for multichannel engagement.

Notes

Attune spoke to 1,000 fashion consumers across the UK, and from a broad range of age demographics, a number of carefully considered multiple choice questions regarding changes in their shopping habits.

Visit www.proactive-retail.co.uk to download the full report.

 

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