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Maria: In 2017, consumers reported buying 560 more apparel brands than just three years prior.  If all brand shares were equal, that equates to 13 percent fewer dollars per brand!  So with fewer apparel dollars to go around many try to break through the clutter and stand out.   Remember the old saying, “the customer is always right?”  Today it’s about getting the shopping experience right from the start.  And that starts with knowing your consumer and not all consumers shop alike. 

To help with understanding that not all consumers approach apparel shopping the same, NPD identified six unique consumer segments: Social ShoppersConnected ConsumersTrend SettersTreasure HuntersBrand Loyals, and Retail Reluctant*.  Knowing your most important consumer and where to place your biggest bets is key to getting one’s fair share in a very competitive environment.  Once I began learning more about these consumer segments, I started to wonder which type of consumer I would be considered.  Then it dawned on me, I was the Social Shopper.

Social Shoppers are the largest consumer segment when it comes to buying apparel.  I relate to this segment from a number of angles, from the types of clothing I’m looking to buy, all the way to how I plan to buy.  Social Shoppers don’t have a lot of time on their hands so they’re looking for the buying process to be easy. Yep, that’s me. I want to look like I’ve spent time putting my outfit together even though I don’t have the time. Basically, I welcome the help.  Understanding this segment is important because it maps out who would benefit most from outfit pairing, which can happen both in-store and online. 

But what about others I know?  Well, as you’d expect, it really depended on who I asked, for example, take Kristen’s perspective:   

Kristen: With the availability of so many shopping platforms, I didn’t think I could fall into one specific consumer segment.  As a millennial, I was bred to believe in my uniqueness, and that I could not be put into a box, right? Wrong.  When I started studying these consumer segmentations defined by NPD, I realized I am a Trend Setter.  This actually surprised me.  I do not spend an exorbitant amount of money on my clothing.  I like to mix fast fashion with vintage and occasionally pair it with something that’s a little out of my price range.  

Since the majority of my wardrobe is a mixed bag of retail outlets, how can I be considered a Trend Setter?  It’s because my style does matter to me, a lot in fact.  Price does matter too, but ultimately style is always the deciding factor in my purchasing.  I am not willing to sacrifice my own personal style for savings. And once a trend has started the decent on the theoretical “bell curve,’ I am looking to move onto the next.  This makes me a prime candidate for exclusive sneak previews or “membership only” type offerings.  

Maria: The apparel industry is offering more but consumers can also find this overwhelming.  Shopping is not a one-size-fits-all approach and people are looking to connect to their brands.  Brands that figure out how to make that connection with their consumer are the ones that will reap the benefits in an industry that isn’t growing as fast as its number of brands. 

*Source: The NPD Group/Future of Apparel study  



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