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Tis the Season To Be Unique – Apparel Looks To New Shopping Experiences

Nov 7, 2017
Maria Rugolo, Director, Industry Analyst ;
Apparel

A good portion of my family members celebrate their birthdays in the fall. This year, birthday presents included things like a cooking class, a skydiving simulation and a room escape challenge for the family.  This also means I have to think extra-hard about what they could possibly want this upcoming holiday that will top that. After all, being able to buy a gift that someone truly enjoys requires some actual work. You really need to know the person.

That is why I was a bit surprised when my cousin gave my sister a gift card for her birthday.  Aren’t gift cards something you buy when you don’t know the person?  Not only was my sister given a gift card, it was for a place she never heard about...at least not until last week. You see, my cousin was planning on hosting a “cabi party.” 

For those who may not be as familiar with cabi, think of it as a clothing party one can host at their house where a stylist/advisor showcases pieces for the latest season. At first I thought of it as a good excuse to attend a “girl’s night out.” Some wine and cheese and I’d be set. But to my surprise I really loved the process. It was a fun “experience” if you will, where I basically shopped with my friends and family. Given our busy lifestyles, I rarely have time to go shopping let alone with my sister, mother, cousins and friends all at one time.

NPD’s partner, Civic Science, recently reported that women were less likely to choose a “clothing shopping spree” as a preferred splurge.  Instead they were opting for other forms of entertainment and experiences, hence the previously mentioned birthday gifts. But in the scenario of the “cabi party”, we got the experience AND the clothes. And boy did we splurge. Remember my sister who went in with a gift card to a place she didn’t even know existed; well she purchased beyond the gift amount, didn’t shop with any discounts and is already looking to host a party herself. So I guess my perception of gift card giving was proven wrong – there can be much more behind these gifts than appears on the surface, for gift-giver, recipient, and the brand.

With half* of consumers saying they rarely or never plan to spend full price on clothing in 2017, apparel is faced with a challenging environment. Matt Powell’s Sneakernomics blog called the future PUNY (Premium, Unique, New and Young). According to Matt, the shift to PUNY presents challenges for the mega-brands. The consumer is in more control today than ever before and how brands respond to this change will have great bearing on their future.

Unique shopping experiences like Stitch Fix, with their recent IPO announcement, Rent The Runway, or in this case cabi are keeping consumers interested in apparel while stealing dollars from the more traditional platforms.  This is a wake-up call for brands to better understand their consumer before they decide to take their money elsewhere, especially for the upcoming holiday season.   

*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Omnibus Feb 2017



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