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Handbag Buying Behavior Revelations

Apr 27, 2016
Beth Goldstein, Executive Director, Industry Analyst ;
Fashion Accessories

The journey of buying a handbag “seems closer to buying a car than to buying clothing.” That’s the take of Rohan Deuskar, the Founder and CEO of Stylitics, based on insights from a new study entitled “The New Handbag Consumer Revealed.” The NPD Group recently partnered with Stylitics, the creator of an app that tracks the contents of 300,000 Millennials’ closets, to understand the factors that influence women as they look to purchase a new bag.

Rohan’s quote might seem a bit extreme, but he was reacting to the findings that are detailed in the “Customer Journey” section of the report. We learned that women are doing an extensive amount of research prior to purchasing a bag, leveraging a number of resources like websites, retail stores and social media. It is a rational process, as handbags of course serve a functional purpose, but they also serve an emotional one. A woman considers the purchase to be an investment in her style and personality, regardless of price point, and she does not want to make a wrong choice. Just like buying a car, it’s a very personal choice. I can relate to this, and studying the findings of this research offered me the opportunity to do a bit of soul-searching, comparing my own behaviors to those of the women that were surveyed and interviewed, and I learned a few things about myself. What follows is an exclusive tell-all about my handbag ownership and buying behaviors.

The biggest revelation for me was that I’m a “Status Seeker” (there – I said it!). In terms of my closet inventory (the brands that I own and have purchased recently), I fall into the “Luxury Seeker” sub-segment. This means that most of the brands I own are from the Status brand group, but like the typical Luxury Seeker, I do splurge on Designer brands occasionally. That’s where the similarities to buying a car come in – when I’m going to spend a large sum of money that I’ve set aside for a bag, I research for weeks or months before making a decision. Like many of the respondents, I don’t like large logos, but do want others to recognize what I’m carrying (who doesn’t like a little approval from others?). I also learned that I belong to the segment with the smallest collection of handbags (although my husband would never believe it). In this regard, I’m more like a “Luxury Loyalist,” and I suppose my aspiration is to one day have my brand assortment match that of this segment as well.

How much do you know about your current, target, and/or aspirational consumer? How does she approach buying a new bag? Chances are, like I do, she fits into a number of the segments profiled in the study, which means your competition is wider than you may have thought, and that has significant implications on your product and marketing strategies.

And by the way, I’d like to be a loyal luxury car buyer one day too…