Shopping for Statistics: Survey Indicates Retail Consumers are Open to New Experiences, But Social's Impact May be Waning


Shopping for Statistics: Survey Indicates Retail Consumers are Open to New Experiences, But Social's Impact May be Waning

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  June 24, 2013

A new study of the retail clothing space by Market Force Information reveals that more consumers are open to trying and buying new brands, most often prompted to do so by sales and promotions. The same study indicates social media may be having a diminishing impact on customer behavior relative to retail decisions.

Here are a few stats from the report:

  • 39 percent have tried a new retailer in the past three months, an increase from 32 percent in 2011 and 14 percent in 2010;
  • H&M, Kohl’s and Macy’s were the retailers that shoppers tried most for the first time;
  • newspaper, TV and magazine ads ranked lowest for getting shoppers into new retail stores;
  • consumers were most likely to try a new retailer when shopping for casual clothing (46 percent), business attire (17 percent), evening wear (12 percent), athletic wear (9 percent) and outdoors apparel (8 percent); and
  • of those who tried new retailers, 60 percent said they were delighted, and 40 percent said were neutral or negative; and
  • nearly half of respondents (42 percent, up from 37 percent in 2011 and 11 percent in 2010) said they use social media to find information about fashion retailers, and 12 percent (up from 7 percent in 2011) said they have posted about a fashion retailer on social media.

To find out more, CUSTOMER magazine recently interviewed Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force Information.

What do you consider to be the key takeaways of the study?

Eden-Harris: I think the overall findings point to good news for the fashion industry – new trial is up, to the point where almost four in 10 consumers say they tried a new retailer in the last 90 days. More people self-report as fashionistas vs. minimalists this year, in contrast to our last retail study a year and a half ago. And, 40 percent of customers [who] tried a new retailer were delighted by their experience, and said they were highly likely to return and spend again.

Were there any surprises?

Eden-Harris: I expected to see more of a drop-off for the JCPenney brand, but consumers are reporting about the same level of satisfaction as they had in our previous study. What’s more, in the ranking of consumers’ favorite retailers, JCPenney came in fifth, exactly the same spot as it did in late 2011. I think that is good news for the brand trying to regain its footing this year with the return of its former CEO.

What could JCPenney be doing better?

Eden-Harris: They lag behind others in their loyalty programs and customer service, based on consumer feedback. Those could be two areas to focus where they could regain consumers’ confidence.

Your study talks about social media having a diminishing impact in retail. Explain.

Eden-Harris: We’re finding that the influence that social media has on consumers’ purchase patterns is leveling off. We’ll want to watch this over the next year to see if it’s actually in decline, or if it’s just indicating a leveling off. As consumers age, the younger generation, [which] is far more invested in social media, will likely have an increasing sway. But, it may not translate into overwhelming purchase behavior changes. We’ll want to take a wait-and-see approach with this one.

Why is social media having a diminishing impact now?

Eden-Harris: [I’m] not sure the data tells us, unfortunately.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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