Despite cautionary spending last year, retailers may have good reason to be optimistic in 2013 – consumers are trying more fashion retailers for the first time, and most are making purchases during those visits. According to a study by Market Force Information, a worldwide leader in customer intelligence solutions, four in 10 (39%) of consumers surveyed reported trying a new fashion retailer over the past 90 days – a 22% gain from 2011, and a 179% increase from 2010 when just 14% of consumers said they’d tried a new retailer. H&M is the retailer that consumers reported visiting for the first time most often, followed by Kohl’s, Macy’s, Abercrombie & Fitch and Forever 21.
The Market Force study, conducted in February, was designed to uncover consumer shopping trends and behaviors, including how they’ve shifted over the past three years.
Out of the top-ranking retailers in the study, H&M did the best job of attracting new customers for the second time in a row. The Swedish retailer received the highest ranking when the survey votes were indexed to account for number of locations per chain. Kohl’s secured the No. 2 spot, up from its sixth-place finish in Market Force’s previous retail study in late 2011, and Macy’s moved from No. 11 up to third place. Coldwater Creek and White House | Black Market both fell significantly this year from their top-five ranking in 2011.
The survey revealed that consumers were most likely to try a new retailer when shopping for casual clothing (46%), business attire (17%), evening wear (12%), and athletic wear (9%) and outdoors apparel (8%).
The Power of Promos
Not surprisingly, good deals are primarily responsible for getting people into the doors of a fashion retailer for the first time. The Market Force study found that a sale, discount or promo was the impetus for nearly one in five who tried a new retailer (19%, up from 11% in 2011). But recommendations from family and friends – which was the top influencer in the 2011 study – ranked a close second with 17%. Fourteen-percent reported stopping on impulse. Newspaper, magazine and TV ads ranked lowest, similar to 2011’s findings.
Satisfaction (and Sales) Guaranteed?
Of the consumers who recently ventured into a new retailer, just 60% said they were delighted by their experiences, while many – 40% – were neutral or negative. The retailers that delivered a top-notch experience saw the payoff in the cash register. Of the shoppers who reported being highly satisfied by their initial visit, 90% said they made a purchase. The most-bought items were casual clothes, accessories, business apparel and evening wear. Those highly satisfied customers also planned to return – 90% said they would shop at this retailer again within the next 90 days.