No other industry changes as rapidly as fashion. What’s hot today is blasé tomorrow. Innovation becomes retro. Seasons change. Hemlines rise and fall ... and so do your sales figures. A celebrity makes a fashion statement on the red carpet and suddenly your financial statements are covered in red.
How do companies win in such an environment? The apparel, footwear, and accessories markets have depended upon The NPD Group for fashion market research and solutions for decades. Leading brands rely on us for comprehensive information and analysis about consumer spending and shopping behavior plus customized solutions that drive better business decisions.
How do we do it? We collect information from more than 1,200 retailer partners representing 165,000 stores worldwide, field 12 million consumer surveys each year, and mine the receipts of millions of consumers -- to tell our clients what, where, and why people are buying. We bring those robust data assets along with our industry expertise and combine it with your data or third-party data to address your business issues, from opportunity identification to program evaluation.
Monitor sales of men’s, women’s, and children’s apparel in department stores, specialty stores, and national chains. You also can use this service to track sales of women’s accessories in department stores and national chains. It delivers the most detailed point-of-sale (POS) information available for the fashion industry to guide your critical business decisions.
Understand who is buying apparel and accessories, and how, why, and where they are shopping. Based on market research information from nearly 2 million consumers, the service delivers an unmatched view across all retail channels in the U.S. In Canada, the Consumer Tracking Service focuses on apparel.
Account Level Reports
These reports enable retailers who choose this option to share their information with approved vendors, allowing vendors to analyze business performance at specific retailers down to the item level in many instances. By making this report available to their vendors, retailers can work together with them to optimize performance. These reports may only be made available with the express permission of the retailer.
Checkout Tracking℠ provides information on consumer buying behavior at the market basket level, based on receipts for brick-and-mortar and online retail purchases. You get precise, item-level purchase detail that is linked to buyers and their demographics. Data comes from large-scale longitudinal panels, making it possible to study the same consumers over time, analyze competitive market baskets, and identify purchase patterns.
You have opportunities. You face threats. What you need are smart, quantifiable methods of distinguishing one from the other and maximizing your chances of success. NPD’s Analytic Solutions Group includes a team of senior leaders with extensive experience developing and delivering analytic solutions that address strategic marketing, sales, and planning issues.
We combine NPD POS and consumer information, industry expertise, and custom survey research – then add state-of-the-discipline research techniques and methodologies to explain the "why behind the buy.” Through advanced modeling and analytic services, we offer insight into what will happen in the future, not just what has happened in the past, answering your most pressing business questions:
- What consumer segments should we target and why? How do we know if we’re successful over time?
- Which products are hot? How should we respond?
- What’s the sales potential and ROI for my new / revamped product idea?
- What is the optimal feature combination for my product?
- How do I monitor my performance in my sales territories, distribution areas, etc.?
- Is your promotion strategy attracting new buyers or just moving forward sales you would have gotten anyway?
- How will a competitor’s price drop impact your sales next quarter, and how should you respond?
- Will my product category grow or decline? Why? What does this mean for my market share?
- What’s the competitive landscape and where are my best opportunities (Food)?
- What levers should we pull to increase sales and market share?
- Why are some of our stores performing better than others?
- Why do consumers choose our brand? Our competitors’ brands?
- How effective is our advertising? How can we improve it?
- What products should we develop?
- What products should we sell?
- How can we optimize assortment based on local market dynamics?
- Which people should we target? Why?
- How do we know if we are successful over time?
See how clients have used our analytic solutions to solve their business challenges in our Analytic Solutions Case Study Library.
This report is designed to help you target new customer segments, inform product design, refine strategic messaging, and activate brand communication throughout the bra-purchasing journey. Learn how women shop for bras, what influences bra purchase decisions, and how brands influence those perceptions. It’s how to get the right products in the right places for the right people.
You can use the 2015 Women's Special Sizes Report to understand how the special-sized shopper thinks, how she shops, the brands and retailers she chooses, and more. You’ll discover how special-sized women classify themselves by size, how they prefer to be marketed to, and where your best opportunities exist in this growing segment of the U.S. apparel market.
Your single source for new insights on size, trends, average price, and more — see the independent shoe channel up close.
How can you move up the ranks when it comes to consumers’ favorite fashion footwear brands? In both women’s and men’s, word of mouth and recommendations are major influencers on consumer purchase decisions. Our Footwear Brand Focus Report shines a light on brand awareness, ownership, perceptions, purchase intent, affinity, consumer profiles, and more.
Get immediate insight into what's selling now — and what’s likely to be popular in the next six to eight weeks. The Flash Trends Report, created in partnership with Stylitics, delivers detail on the major style and color trend stories of the month. Now you’ll know exactly what’s happening in the marketplace and what to expect.
Explore the attitudes and behaviors of the Millennial handbag consumer. You can use our new report, Portrait of the Millennial Handbag Consumer, to identify new opportunities and develop marketing strategies that target this very important but hard to reach age group.
Loyalty Drives Victoria’s Secret Dominance in the Intimates Market, According to a New Report from The NPD GroupVictoria’s Secret is attracting a loyal consumer who shops frequently, and spends more than the average intimates consumer, according to The NPD Group, a leading global information company. Over a quarter of in-store and online intimate apparel buyers purchase bras or panties from Victoria’s Secret, according to the new Victoria’s Secret Playbook report, based on analysis from NPD’s receipt mining service, Checkout Tracking℠. The new report examines the purchase behaviors of this major player in the intimate apparel market, uncovering the factors that contribute to their dominance.
Craving pizza? Just Tweet a pizza emoji. Want that area rug? Just click the Buyable Pin for it to adorn your own home. Wish the watch in your Instagram feed were on your wrist? Just click on the brand’s profile link to buy it.
Since 2012, social media platforms have integrated click-to-buy features that allow retailers and manufacturers to sell directly to consumers within social platforms. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Snapchat have all gotten in on the trend.
But even though online sales are growing and consumers are spending more time on social media, the jury’s still out: do these social buy buttons actually encourage people to buy, or have we seen the last of them?
Get our latest Insights – The Future of Social Commerce: How “Buy Buttons” Are Disrupting the Retail World
Retail success demands that manufacturers be at the forefront of what’s new, cool, and exciting to shoppers. If a retail buyer decides a particular product or brand is unlikely to fly off the shelves, the decision can cost an unsuspecting manufacturer significant business. Sometimes, it can cost the entire business . . .
Every journalist and student in America knows the so-called five Ws: who, what, when, where, and why. It turns out the same five Ws are also the most basic forms of consumer segmentation.
But relationships among the five Ws of shopping are a bit more complex than they are among the five Ws of writing. And the tales they tell are illuminating.
We shared online and brick-and-mortar, receipt-based data from our Checkout TrackingSM service with researchers from the Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania. The study revealed the what and the why of consumer purchases are linked to the when of consumers’ lifestyles. In other words, when people have babies, they buy baby things. But the how and where of purchases are tied to who a consumer is by generation.
Even when the other four Ws are the same, it’s who we are – Boomer, Gen X, or Millennial – that makes all the difference.
Back in the day -- and we mean the mythical, halcyon days of small-town America -- shopkeepers were among the core, central figures in a community. Their prestige came from their well-recognized knowledge of the truths surrounding any given family. The shopkeeper knew who was short of cash, who ran late on their “layaway” plans, who scrimped and who squandered.
A successful shopkeeper did two things.
First, he held his tongue. No one would trust a man who spread their secrets across town. If you were low on money and it was time to feed the baby, you wanted to deal with someone who would sell you things on the cuff, and not tell a soul.
Second, he marketed to his customers based upon his secret knowledge. He knew when payday came, and when the crops failed. He knew when the kids were growing out of their clothes, and when Dad had drank up the money in the cookie jar. He timed his offerings and personalized his approach, showing the inexpensive cloth to the struggling poor, displaying swaths of middling quality to the middle class, and offering the beautiful and pricey fabrics only to the truly wealthy or the pretentious hopefuls.
Those days are gone forever … or not.
In today’s retail world, we tend to think of the consumer as one with the power. Certainly there’s some truth to that. The digital world is an endless trail of price-comparison engines, customer reviews, and social-media sites for voicing dissatisfaction.
But the real power -- the ability to derive sales and loyalty from knowledge -- remained with retailers with the rise of the Web. The digital-only shopkeepers of recent history, armed with recommendation engines, email lists, dynamic pricing, and the like, became the modern version of the apron-clad, all-knowing man behind the counter of the general store of old.
But this too shall pass.
Disrupting the disruptors
Today an entirely new group is making moves to assume the role of the omniscient shopkeeper. Manufacturers have recognized the power of knowing their customers and selling to them directly. The direct-to-consumer movement has altered the very nature of how brands reach consumers.
Heavily centered in CPG (P&G, Kraft’s), fresh food (Good Eggs, Graze, Farmigo, etc.) travel-related loyalty programs (Starwood Hotels, FuelRewards, etc.) and apparel and accessories (Warby Parker, Everlane, Bonobos, et al), the DTC innovators have inspired fear and envy from both competitors and traditional retailers.
Those emotions seem to be clouding the judgement of many a player in the shopping world. But The NPD Group, which has business relationships with retailers, manufacturers and millions of consumers, has an unusually clear line of sight. And things have grown even clearer since the debut of our Checkout Tracking service, in which we mine data from the receipts (both online and from brick and mortar) of millions of consumers.
And what we’re seeing looks more like opportunity than danger, for both retailers and manufacturers who can put emotion aside and embrace the data.
To see what we see, and to understand what it means for your business, we need to tell you a bit about how Checkout Tracking works.
Save your receipts
Checkout Tracking data is based on the millions of receipts sent to us and our technology partner, Slice Intelligence, by consumers. Those receipts yield detailed, item-level data about individual consumers across stores, across all retail segments, covering both online and brick and mortar, and over time.
Just think about that for a second: transaction-level detail across all retailers, across all channels and all time, at the individual buyer level. That, of course, is the Holy Grail of DTC. And now it’s available even to manufacturers and retailers who haven’t collected it themselves.
Checkout Tracking can tell retailers if their most loyal customers are cheating on them once they leave the store. It can tell manufacturers what else customers buy when they picked up their products at a retailer rather than on the manufacturer’s ecommerce site, and even what they likely had for lunch on the drive home.
More importantly, it can illuminate how often buyers of DTC brands buy rival DTC brands, and how often they shop at other retailers.
- A direct-to-consumer (DTC) apparel brand that sells from both a branded website and its own retail outlets, wanted to know where else its customers shopped for men’s pants. With the help of Checkout Tracking data, the brand learned that its customers did less than one third (28%) of their pants shopping with the brand itself. Where else did customers buy pants? They devoted 21% of share of wallet to three Big Box retailers and 4% at a rival DTC brand!
- The apparel brand learned something else valuable – and it’s not particularly good news for traditional retailers. Even though the DTC brand’s customers were shopping at big box retailers, they were doing so at a much lower rate than the rest of the population and actually indexed quite low at big box retailers and department stores compared to non-customers. Rather, its customers indexed higher than the general population with five rival DTC manufacturers.
- Another direct-to-consumer (DTC) apparel brand with both real-world and online operations wanted to know where else its customers shopped for children’s apparel. With the help of Checkout Tracking data, the brand learned that its customers only did 9% of their children apparel shopping with the brand itself. They mostly shopped for kids apparel at discount department stores with more than half of wallet dedicated to four of the larger brick and mortar players.
- Similarly to the men’s brand above, the children’s apparel brand learned that its customers over indexed at rival DTC apparel compared to non-customers. And despite a substantial share of wallet devoted to two of the larger Big Box retailers, customers actually under indexed a these stores compared to the rest of the population.
Getting to know you
What The NPD Group has learned from the manufacturers who work with Checkout Tracking data has proven illuminating … and points to a future for DTC that is far less doom-and-gloom for traditional retailers than the conventional wisdom would suggest.
Among the most interesting things we’ve seen are:
- Many manufacturers are driven by a need to understand the consumer, not necessarily to sell to them directly without a middle man.
- Many companies express a commitment to creating and enacting a DTC strategy, either through retailers or on their own, but have only a limited sense of what that would entail.
- The more sophisticated manufacturers have recognized a need for persona analysis, segmentation and the like. Previous efforts in these areas, done on a high level using demographic information, are now seen as inadequate and conducted too infrequently.
- A very high percentage of manufacturers who operate ecommerce sites say they do so primarily to collect data about customers. Such sites aren’t aimed at replacing traditional channels. For such manufacturers, selling through retailers is expected to be the primary revenue source for the foreseeable future.
It would seem that established manufacturers – those companies that make the brands that fill the shelves of retail operations across the country – aren’t so much interested in changing their business as they are in improving it. They’re not so much interested in eliminating the middle man as they are in getting closer to consumers.
This suggests that the future of DTC will consist of retailers and manufacturers forming partnerships tied to understanding the consumers of specific brands. That’s going to require a level of intelligence sharing that’s well beyond what retailers and manufacturers do today, but the advantages of such cooperation seem overwhelming.
With the exception of a handful of truly innovative companies in areas ripe for disruption (we’re looking at you, Warby Parker), DTC is unlikely to become something just manufacturers or just retailers do well. It will be partnerships that become the new, all-knowing shopkeepers of the future.
- A version of this article originally appeared in the print edition of The Robin Report.
10 Ways Younger and Older Millennials Shop Differently
The retail world is obsessed with Millennials.
It wouldn’t be a normal day if newsletters, tweets, and the media didn’t overflow with headlines on the latest Millennial trend, how to “harness” their alleged power, or how to reach this malleable and unpredictable segment.
Who are these Millennials? Do a quick Google search, and you’ll learn they’re foodies. Social media savants. Selfie experts. Experience seekers. Value hunters. Convenience junkies. Savvy shoppers. They’re “authentic.”
In demographic terms, they’re people between the ages of 18 and 34 who reached young adulthood around the year 2000.
But Millennials don’t like to be stereotyped as Millennials. We get it, Ryan Seacrest—they’re tired of being generalized into a broad demographic box and find the label patronizing. They just want to be treated as unique individuals.
When it comes to the wide-spanning age bracket, they do have a point—the difference between life in your late teens and life in your early 30s is pretty substantial. Do 18-year-old you and 34-year-old you want the same things, behave in the same way, or buy the same stuff?
With this in mind, we decided to divide the group into two smaller segments for study: younger and older Millennials. We set out to learn how these groups differ, both attitudinally and behaviorally, in their retail choices. We learned a lot, like the fact that older Millennials over-index in loyalty apps. And younger Millennials shop more at department stores.
If you’re a retailer or manufacturer looking to better understand the complexities of these highly-coveted sub-segments across the retail and foodservice spaces,
The Gen Y Gold Rush
Before we dive into retail specifics, let’s review an economic reality to set the context: U.S. Millennials haven’t had it so easy. Coming of age during the Great Recession, 13.8 percent of those 18-29 are unemployed or out of the workforce, far above the national jobless rate of 5.1 percent. And they’re a “boomerang” generation—33 percent stay at home with their families and fewer live independently. (Who can blame them? Seven out of 10 college grads from 2014 have a student loan, owing an average of $28,950 per borrower.)
But debt and other deterrents haven’t kept Millennials from buying things.
Any obsession with the Millennial demographic—also known as Gen Y—is with good reason. U.S. Millennials outnumber Baby Boomers by nearly 10 percent, surpassing them as the nation’s largest living generation in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. They’re estimated to reach $1.4 trillion in annual spending by 2020—roughly one-third of all retail spending. So retailers and manufacturers need Gen Y’s share of wallet to increase their market share. And this dependence will only intensify as Boomers continue to age and the Millennial segment gains purchasing power. Frankly, if you’re a retailer who’s not focused on this budding segment, we’re seriously concerned. (Please call us immediately and we’ll help.)
Given that Millennials are such an expansive, diverse group, our Chief Industry Analyst Marshal Cohen reminds us that there are many ways to divide up this set for study; segmentation by age is just one way to showcase their differentiated spending. But make no mistake about it: age really does matter. As consumers navigate through shifts in life stage, it reflects back in their purchasing behavior.
When we divide the group into two segments (ages 18-24 and 25-34), there are already some major demographic differences to note. For one, older Millennials are more educated and have a higher income, shown by data collected by our partner, CivicScience. But with more than one-third of 18- to 24-year-olds still in college, they can’t be expected to have the same level of education or earning power. Older Millennials are less racially diverse and are primarily white (74 percent compared to 68 percent of young Millennials). A greater percentage of young Gen Yers are single/never married (80 percent compared to 44 percent of older Millennials), fewer are married (only 10 percent compared to 40 percent of older Millennials), and fewer parent a child (10 percent compared to 40 percent of the old Gen Y segment).
The two groups think and behave differently, too. Younger Millennials are more optimistic about the state of our economy. They’re less likely than their older counterparts to think Donald Trump would make a good president, and more likely to see the new “Star Wars” movie. Younger Millennials are more likely to applaud Bernie Sanders’ performance in the first Democratic debate. And they eat granola with a higher frequency than their elder Millennial brethren.
So how do these differences play out on the retail floor? Here are 10 ways the groups differ in their shopping behavior:
1. Young Gen Y Specialize in Beauty
We studied the receipts of 8,766 Millennials through our Checkout TrackingSM service, following the purchases they made during the first half of 2015, both online and offline. This revealed younger Millennials devoted a greater share of spend to specialty beauty retailers compared to the total Gen Y population. The younger set significantly over-indexed at retailers like Lush, meaning they are more likely than the senior Gen Y group to visit a specialty beauty retailer when they need new concealer or mascara.
But there were also some “neutral” beauty brands that earned consistent share of wallet across the Millennial age bracket. Both Gen Y groups devoted about 20 percent share of beauty spend to Bath & Body Works and 22 percent share to Sephora. The only specialty beauty retailers where older Millennials significantly over-indexed compared to their younger comrades were The Body Shop and bareMinerals.
But it’s not all about specialty shops when it comes to cosmetics. In an online poll of 15,031 U.S. adults conducted from January 2014 through January 2015 through our partner CivicScience, we asked respondents where they buy most of their makeup and cosmetics. The result? Millennials do the majority of this shopping (49 percent) at superstores like Walmart, Target, and Costco—a greater share compared to that of the total U.S. adult population (45 percent). And younger Millennials demonstrate a slightly greater affinity for superstore makeup than older Millennials.
When it comes to how Millennials shop for beauty products, their purchasing behavior is pretty consistent throughout the segment, but there are also some differences. Our Shopper Engagement survey fielded in August 2015 showed Millennials old and young are equally likely to browse in store and buy in store (58 percent). Younger Millennials are more likely than older Millennials to browse and buy online (20 percent vs. 17 percent), less likely to browse online and buy in store (14 percent vs. 15 percent), and less likely to browse in store and buy online (8 percent vs. 10 percent).
"With so many retailers and brands trying to court this segment, it becomes very competitive and challenging to win share of younger Millennials’ discretionary, hard-to-come-by spending"
2. Young Millennials Shop More Specialty Apparel
The Millennial segments demonstrated the biggest discrepancy when we looked at share of wallet devoted to specialty apparel stores. Young Gen Yers like shopping in specialty stores for specific items, devoting 3.2 percent share of wallet to this retail channel, compared to older Millennials’ 2.1 percent share and the total adult population’s 1.9 percent share, shown by Checkout Tracking receipt data.
Marshal Cohen thinks reaching younger Millennials requires laser-like focus. “With so many retailers and brands trying to court this segment, it becomes very competitive and challenging to win share of younger Millennials’ discretionary, hard-to-come-by spending”, he explains. Millennials want to shop and play at places that market their products directly to them. If they feel you’re “for real,” or in other words, not only including them, but genuinely speaking directly to them—they will be more inclined to shop with you.
Specialty fashion retailers are the perfect example. We took a deep dive into data on some of these top retailers to see at which specific retailers younger Millennials over-indexed compared to more senior Millennials over a 12-month period. One look at the over-indexing stores on this list, and you’ll see just how these specialty stores fared with the younger Millennial.
Here we see very clearly how young Gen Yers spend a significantly lower share of their apparel spend at children’s retailers (Carter’s and The Children’s Place) compared to the older Millennial segment. The data reflects young Gen Yers’ preference for stores like Hollister and American Eagle over places like Ann Taylor and Banana Republic.
What we found particularly significant was the fact that two of the most neutral apparel retailers—Lululemon and The North Face—earned similar wallet share among Millennials of all ages, demonstrating activewear’s ability to transcend ages 18 to 34.
But Department Stores Aren’t Dead
Given younger Millennials’ affinity for specialty apparel retailers, perhaps we can understand Macy’s decision to mimic this specialty/boutique feel by opening a basement floor dedicated entirely to the younger consumer (Gen Z and young Millennials), only showcasing the brands most relevant to this age group.
But it is important to note that across the entire channel, Millennials of all ages devote a greater share of wallet to department store spend than the rest of the U.S. adult population. And younger Millennials are also more likely than older Millennials to have shopped at department stores. While the younger group is more likely to have shopped at Nordstrom, the older group is more likely to have shopped at Sears.
Interestingly, while younger and older Millennials differ in their likelihood to have shopped at Nordstrom (26 percent vs. 15 percent), the likelihood of the groups to have shopped at Nordstrom Rack, the fashion retailer’s off-price subsidiary, is not as polarizing (25 percent versus 22 percent respectively). Though less significant, younger Millennials are slightly more likely to have shopped at Marshall’s, while both age groups are equally likely to have shopped at TJMaxx.
3. Younger Millennials Are Sportier
Though activewear share of spend is consistent across the Millennial spectrum, budding Millennials are more likely than older ones to have shopped at sporting goods stores (29 percent vs. 20 percent reported to have shopped at one in the past year). The differences were significantly pronounced at REI (49 vs. 16 percent). There were also marked differences at footwear retailers Nike (40 vs. 19 percent) and Finish Line (32 vs. 19 percent).
So does this mean younger Millennials are more active than their older counterparts? Our Sports Industry Analyst Matt Powell shed light on this question. “I’ve been talking a lot about viewing the generational changes on a spectrum (from the oldest Boomer to the youngest Gen Zer), rather than as distinct and dramatic changes,” he explained. For example, Boomers are mostly white, conservative, less technically inclined, lavish, and not particularly focused on health or fitness. In contrast, Gen Z is less white, liberal, tech-reliant, frugal, and very health/fitness focused. And Millennials fit somewhere in between on this spectrum.
“So when we think of changes moving along a spectrum over time, it is logical that younger Millennials behave somewhat differently than older ones, and in this case—have a greater focus on fitness and health,” Matt explains.
That’s not to mention that as older Millennials buy homes and start families, they spend less money on themselves (and less on things like sports equipment), while the younger Gen Yers do not yet have those financial obligations.
4. Younger Millennials Eat Healthier, Cook Less, and Shop Wholesale
When it comes to the food and beverages they order, younger Millennials are more likely than older Millennials to look for benefits they can obtain by eating healthier, seeking items that provide energy, are filling, reduce stress, and build muscle. These are messaging opportunities for building a younger Millennial customer base.
In addition, young Gen Yers are more adventurous than older generations in their food choices, with 47 percent of younger versus 40 percent of older Millennials claiming to choose something new (compared to only 34 percent or less for older generations). And younger Millennials have other considerations when trying something new. For example, convenience is at the top of the list. Items that are quick to order, prepare, and consume with easy portability and little mess satisfy this need.
An analysis of data from CREST®, our flagship restaurant and foodservice information service, found the Millennial segment experienced the greatest decline in restaurant visits of any generation from 2007 to 2014. This decline was greatest among the older Millennial segment (the group more likely to have kids under age 13 in the household). And if you’ve ever been responsible for a child at a restaurant who is having a meltdown or making a concoction out the table condiments, you get it. Not to mention the impact of having more mouths to feed; the relatively cheaper expense of eating at home was the primary reason for the decline in visits among older Millennials. Healthy eating concerns also played an integral role in the decision to eat at home.
Older Millennials are also more into cooking than are younger Millennials, with just over half of the older segment saying they love or like to cook. It may be easier to attract younger Millennials back to restaurants because they are not as tied to cooking at home.
Last month Whole Foods revealed it will open a line of grocery stores specifically targeting the Millennial shopper. These smaller stores will offer curated, limited selections of products at value prices. While research indicates Millennials do like to specialize, our Checkout Tracking receipt data indicates an affinity for wholesale clubs across this segment. When it comes to at-home food purchasing, younger and older Millennials devoted the greatest share of wallet to wholesale clubs Costco and Sam’s Club, and were similarly likely to have shopped at each grocer. Younger Millennials over-indexed at BJ’s and Publix, but under-indexed at Safeway.
"When it comes to accessories, younger Millennials are not the robust market one would think they are..."
5. Young Gen Yers Devote Less Spend to Accessories
Accessories are growing fastest among the Millennial segment. These consumers are responsible for the greatest share of the category’s purchases, with spending up 15 percent from one year ago. Younger Millennials, however, under-index (compared to total Millennials) in the share of wallet they devote to this category. We found this stat surprising, so we asked our Chief Industry Analyst, Marshal Cohen for his thoughts on the trend.
“When it comes to accessories, younger Millennials are not the robust market one would think they are,” Marshal explains. “Traditional thinking has younger Millennials spending more on accessories, as they tend to be more affordably priced than apparel items. But with less discretionary funds, young Millennials need to be very picky about what and when they buy. Spending across a wider scope of ‘necessities’ like phones, data plans, and even food competes for young Millennial spending on experiences—and that means things like accessories will fall short on the priority list for spending.”
6. Older Millennials Use More Loyalty Apps
Older Millennials are more likely than younger Millennials to be a member of a retailer’s loyalty program. But one surprising trend is that older Millennials are more likely than tech-reliant younger Millennials to have at least one retailer’s app downloaded on their mobile device (48 percent vs. 33 percent). The older group is also more likely to frequently use the downloaded app (46 percent often use their app to browse, look for product information, or shop compared to 38 percent of young Millennials). Older Gen Yers substantially over-indexed for use of mobile apps from Target, Walmart, CVS, Dollar General, eBay, Rite-Aid, Best Buy, Gamestop, and Costco.
7. Millennial Youth Need Less Stuff and Shop Less in Store
Younger Millennials are more likely than older Millennials (28 percent vs. 23 percent) to say they have shopped at brick-and-mortar stores less often than last year, primarily because they don’t need to buy as much as they used to (41 percent). This is also a factor of Millennials’ attraction to experiences, and their desire to do more and buy less.
Older Millennials are more likely than younger Millennials to shop less at brick-and-mortars because they cannot afford to shop as much as they used to (32 percent vs. 25 percent)—perhaps a reflection of the financial demands of parenting.
Both groups are similarly likely to have shopped at Amazon and to be members of their loyalty program, though younger Millennials are more likely to be familiar with Amazon as a place to buy consumer electronics. Older Millennials are more likely to have shopped at direct mail/e-commerce sites like eBay.
When it comes to shopping for apparel, younger Millennials are more likely than older Millennials to browse in store and buy in store (62 percent vs. 51 percent), but less likely to browse online and then buy in store (10 percent vs. 16 percent). Younger Millennials are also less likely than older ones to browse in store and buy online (8 percent vs. 14 percent).
8. Younger Gen Yers Are More Adam Levine, Older Are More Metallica
Our BrandLink® solution reports that if you’re looking for a celebrity endorsement that would appeal to Millennials of all ages, B.o.B. and JT are your guys (that’s Bobby Ray Simmons, Jr. and Justin Timberlake to all you non-Millennials). Both would be good fits to target younger Millennials (index 225 and 132 respectively) and older Millennials (index 167 and 137 respectively).
If you want to home in on younger Millennials, Adam Levine and Daniel Radcliffe are good choices (index 138 and 134 respectively), but they could miss the mark for older Millennials.
Only trying to target older Gen Y consumers? Metallica and Guns N’ Roses would fit the bill (index 130 and 121 respectively), but might not have the same recognition, let alone impact, with young Gen Yers.
9. Older Millennials Buy More Kids’ Stuff
Younger Millennials under-indexed compared to the total Millennial segment in child-related categories: baby products and toys. Specifically, older Millennials are more likely to have shopped at Babies R Us, The Children’s Place, Toys R Us, and Party City. This isn’t surprising, since the 18-24 segment is less likely than the 25-34 segment to parent a child. And in today’s day and age, baby photos don’t really start to take over your Facebook or Instagram feeds until you hit your mid-to-late-20s.
The same trend applies to pet products: older gen Yers are more likely than Millennial youngsters to have shopped at pet stores like PetSmart and Petco.
10. Older Millennials Have More Home-Related Expenses
We know it might sound shocking, but younger Millennials also under-indexed in home improvement, appliances, tools, and home textile purchases. Older Millennials are more likely to have shopped at home hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s in addition to home specialty stores like Bed Bath and Beyond, Crate and Barrel, West Elm, and Pottery Barn. But, really—no surprises here. What 20-year-old do you know who is remodeling her new home, buying a fancy KitchenAid, investing in a state-of-the-art power saw, or ordering a new line of linens? Let’s face it, whether you’re in school or starting your first job, it’s all about scrounging up repurposed furniture from older family and friends or simply sticking with mom and dad for a few more years until you get your feet on the ground. And when young Millennials finally do uproot themselves, typically this means moving to an urban environment where there are more jobs and inhabiting smaller, rented, and/or shared homes that require fewer furniture expenses.
Older and Younger Millennials: Two Distinct Segments
In the world of market research, people aged 18-34 are typically grouped into one giant segment for study. But they do not share the same experiences, think, or act the same. Half the group grew up on Britney Spears, the other on Justin Bieber. Some grew up with Facebook in middle school, while the rest didn’t create an account until after having their first child. Moreover, this 16-year span represents a pivotal coming-of-age period, and the differences between the oldest and youngest Millennial can be great, as evidenced by our top 10 list. It’s time to start treating these segments as two distinct groups, to better get to know them and to speak to them directly if we want to earn their precious spending power.
It’s been a strong year for footwear, which reached total sales of $64 billion in the 12 months ending in June 2015—a YOY increase of 5 percent. Sneakers were the top-performing category, generating $1.2 billion in sales and responsible for 38 percent of the footwear industry’s growth. Nike, Skechers, Vans, Brand Jordan, and Under Armour stood out as the brands with the highest YOY growth. And we can give a big thanks to the Millennial segment (aged 18-34) for their strong industry support. This group’s footwear fervor contributed to one-third of total footwear sales and fueled nearly two-thirds of the industry’s growth.
What accounts for the strong growth in online sales? NPD Sports Industry Analyst Matt Powell attributes sneaker e-tail success to the inability of retail storefronts to carry all sizes and color combinations. “Since most adult sneakers come in more than 20 sizes, it’s virtually impossible for a single retail door to stay in stock on every size. The Internet, however, is rarely out of stock,” he explains. Likewise, the style and color selection of shoes is much broader on the Web than in store. Matt also points out the heavy influence of Zappos, which pioneered the “free shipping, both ways” model, allowing shoppers to buy shoes online with little risk. Most retailers offer this incentive now, so buying shoes online is simple and risk free.
Insights and Opinions from our Analysts and Experts
The first half of this holiday shopping season proved to be a challenging start for the apparel industry. Despite early consumer intentions pointing to apparel as an area of increased spending this holiday season – a 7 percent increase in planned spending over 2015* – that spending doesn’t appear to have happened yet. NPD’s Holiday Shopping Bag 2016 Weekly Report has shown declines in apparel sales from week- to- week when compared to the same time last year, with few exceptions.
Over Thanksgiving week, apparel sales were not as low as earlier in the season, but still down 2 percent against last year and failing to gain momentum against the competition of more exciting and innovative categories for holiday. There were several apparel categories that gained some momentum during this peak week. Within women's dresses, swimwear, socks, and workout wear for women, the big winner. In men's apparel, it was a trip back to traditions with pajamas garnering the most growth for the week, followed by tailored clothing (includes dress and sport shirts, suits and jackets).
In the week after Thanksgiving – Cyber Week – apparel sales fell 5 percent below the same week in 2015. Abundant and deep promotions certainly got the attention of consumers, but it wasn’t enough. Apparel got a slight boost the following week (ending December 10), during the usual holiday lull, with a 1 percent increase in dollar sales compared to last year. Women’s and men’s outerwear were among the top performers, so the weather forecast likely played the biggest role in this shift.
The apparel industry has discounted themselves right off any possible path toward growth. This, combined with the lack of a ‘must have’ fashion item keeps apparel chasing last year’s results. While apparel is not alone in this holiday’s conundrum, the category has a prominent role in holiday retail performance, with 66 percent of consumers planning to purchase clothing during the season*.
There is still time to avoid a complete holiday wardrobe malfunction. In the final stretch of holiday shopping, which typically results in a sales peak close to that of Thanksgiving/Black Friday week, consumers will continue to look for deals, but they are also looking for those last-minute special gifts. The emphasis at retail needs to move toward delivering the products consumers are looking for, not just the price they are looking for.
Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Holiday Shopping Bag 2016 Weekly Report
*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey
As I notice the beautiful fall foliage outside my window I’m quickly reminded that boot season is upon us – that means it is time to break out my fun socks. Besides providing me with warmth, socks are a fun accessory to complete my outfit. From no show liners to over-the-knee boot socks, from neon colors to wacky prints, from traditional to stripes…there are an infinite number of options.
Having options is essential as most adults (male and female) say they wear socks. The degree to which they wear socks differs, especially by gender. Seventy-three percent of men say they wear socks for all or most non-athletic activities compared to only 39 percent of women*. But when she is wearing socks, over 40 percent indicated they will coordinate their socks with their outfits all or most of the time**. And the weather plays a huge factor when it comes to women opening their sock draws, with 74 percent saying they wear socks when the weather turns colder*, present company included.
Close to 60 percent of total socks sales stem from the colder months of October through March, with nearly 20 percent solely in the month of December***. And stocking up on your favorite pair is considered the norm, as two-thirds of consumers say they buy multiple pairs of the same socks at one time*. I myself tend to go on sock buying binges once I realize last year’s pairs need replacing.
Not only am I buying socks for myself this time of year, I also find myself picking up a few pairs as holiday stocking stuffers. Moreover, socks are the number one gifted apparel item during the holiday season when looking at units****. But holiday sock gifting for me is more about playing up the novelty than the necessity…after all, print and patterned socks are growing in sales while solid colors are on the decline****.
So, bye-bye bare feet (for now), and hello to a fun sock season ahead…or at least until the groundhog tells me otherwise.
*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Omnibus Aug 2016
**Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Omnibus May 2016
***Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Retail Tracking Service TMM- 12ME Sep 2016
****Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Consumer Tracking Service- 2ME Dec 2015 & 12ME Sep 2016
Helping to fix my clothing conundrum
When my maternity leave came to what seemed like a very quick end, I began to mentally prepare myself to return to the working world. This meant no more yoga pants, getting eight hours of sleep, and coordinating my head-to-toe outfits each night…I wish! What this really meant was adjusting my body to function on no sleep and figuring out how I can look presentable after realizing…I have no clothes!
All my pre-baby clothes were no longer flattering, functional, or comfortable. I know what I’m looking for when buying clothes, but struggle in putting the outfits together, and I’m not alone. While women are more apt to pair an outfit together than men – nearly two-thirds** of women have bought pieces to make an outfit in the same purchase – close to a quarter (24 percent)*** agree they don’t know how to coordinate their outfits. And who has the time to coordinate these comfortable yet trendy outfits? This is where the personalization aspect comes into play and the internet is helping make this an affordable option.
There are lots of possibilities available for those of us who want (a.k.a. need) the help. Close to a quarter of women (23 percent)*** said they would definitely/probably try an online clothing service that personalizes to their style. Then you have about a third of women (31 percent)*** that said they are not sure, but something tells me once they try it they may be hooked…I’m a prime example of that. Subscription type services like StitchFix, Wantable Style Edit, and Trunk Club for Women are becoming increasingly prevalent. I have personally tried two of these subscription sites recently and both exceeded my expectations. They allowed me to express what I was looking for without having to do the searching myself. Net/Net…they took a personal interest in helping to fix my clothing conundrum.
Since 2010, online apparel dollar sales have grown from 11 percent to 18 percent in 2015*. But when you compare apparel to other fashion categories like accessories and footwear, which capture nearly a quarter of total online sales, there is still room to grow. Though these subscription-type sites are still very new, they are changing how consumers shop and retailers (large and small) are taking note. Fit finders, shopping by outfit, or simply offering free shipping and free returns are just a few ways that make shopping for complete outfits online easier. And sometimes just a little help goes a long way.
Personally, I welcome the idea of having someone else style me, even if that means filling out a fashion survey at 2AM while also rocking my baby back to sleep…at least I’ll look put together!
*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. /
Consumer Tracking Service- 12ME December 2015
**Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Omnibus February 2016
***Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Omnibus April 2016
There is a growing gap between the retail world and the apparel consumer. The seasonal selling cycle is off, the emphasis on fashion vs. function is out of balance, and there is an overlooked opportunity when it comes to dressing U.S. consumers for work. In order to get back on track, especially in the wake of recent lackluster retail earnings, the apparel industry needs to realign itself with the consumer.
It’s the end of May, the weather forecast in New York is just now showing signs of warmer temperatures, and retailers have been selling spring clothing for months. But most consumers began spring shopping in April, as these now “old” styles were being discounted. The majority of consumers (83 percent) told NPD that they shop for clothes during or after the changing seasons. Retailers should put a longer selling season in place for key items in order to capitalize on both early and late selling opportunities.
On the scale of very fashionable to very traditional, 82 percent of consumers said their style of dress falls somewhere between the middle and the very traditional end of the spectrum. Consumers tell us they want mainstream product with a touch of trend, but the industry puts most of their focus on flashy, high-end, avant-garde fashions – which the average consumer won’t buy. Manufacturers need to focus on function, before fashion.
Last, but not least, it’s impossible to underestimate the importance of marketing a lifestyle to today’s consumer. The athleisure trend, for example, appeals to consumers who buy into a more casual, healthier way of living. And this casualization has also extended to the workplace. Half of consumers told NPD that what they wear for work is somewhat the same as what they wear when they are not working. Another 16 percent said that what they wear is completely the same in and outside of work. This means that 65 percent of U.S. consumers have at least some overlap between the clothes they wear to work and the clothes they wear when they are not working.
The lines are blurring everywhere we look, and the apparel industry is faced with the challenge of developing product and marketing approaches that effectively address a new kind of fluidity among today’s consumers. When they shop, what they buy, and how they dress is no longer clearly defined, but each of these things is clearly guided by the consumer. It’s time to realign. Now is the time for retailers and brands to wake up, catch up, and deliver what consumers are asking for.
Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / April 2016 Omnibus
Springtime bloomed in stores months ago, though the season is only a few weeks old and, moreover, it hasn’t felt much like it in many parts of the country. For all this time, retailers’ heaps of promotional emails and text messages touting skirts and spring essentials have likely been overlooked by consumers.
Over 196 billion emails were sent and received around the world each day in 2014, and that figure is projected to rise to over 227 billion by 2018. Looking at business email alone, each user receives, on average, nearly 90 emails per day*. Add our personal accounts and text messaging into the mix and the result is a burdensome amount of content to filter through and read, day after day.
According to a recent NPD survey**, regardless of age, almost one-third of consumers responded that they receive “too many” emails and/or text messages about apparel clothing. About the same percentage said they “don’t get any” of these types of communications, and just over one-third said the quantity is “just right.” These results are somewhat unexpected, and pose a real challenge for marketers. In order to attract, connect with, and maintain consumers across such equally divided groups, brands and retailers need to delve deeper and ask some questions to understand each of them.
- How can frustration and negative feelings about digital communications be turned around?
- Is there a missed opportunity with the consumers that don’t receive any of these communications?
- Are the consumers that feel things are being done just right being more selective by subscribing to retailers that are ‘doing it right’, or do they simply have a higher tolerance for these types of communications?
There are numerous scenarios at play; nonetheless, the fact that promotions are a strategic and effective way to reach consumers and boost ROI is consistent across the board. As consumers turn their minds toward spring, this is prime time for brands and retailers to set their sights on a fresh approach.
As we experienced on the East Coast, spring took its time to arrive; the season began with high 60-degree days overlapping with snow showers and below freezing temperatures. More than one-third of consumers did not yet have spring apparel shopping on their radar**. Despite the unpredictable weather, by now many consumers are getting spring shopping fever and have grown tired of sweaters and turtlenecks. In stores, which abide by the retail calendar regardless of the temperature outside their doors, April is the month when they begin to mark down spring-related product after months of stocking it in their stores. Digital promotions provide an opportunity for retailers to tailor the message they use to reach consumers, tout these promotions, and drive traffic when it’s more in line with the consumers’ wants.
One key to achieving optimal balance across consumer segments is through greater customization and personalization of digital communications. Brands and retailers need to tailor their messages by age, demographic, geography, and by paying attention to past interaction and behavior. Identifying with consumers in this way could breathe new life into digital communications.
*Email Statistics Report 2014-2018, The Radicati Group
**The NPD Group, Inc. / March 2016 Omnibus
Despite the abundance of promotions designed to lure consumers to shop early and often throughout the 2015 holiday shopping season, the final sales results have been mixed. In reality, there may have been too many promotions for consumers to digest. A great sale can result in an impulse purchase, and that’s what you want in the world of retail, right? Yes, impulse purchases are an important part of retail success. However, as with any impulsive decision, regret can follow.
This holiday season, buyer’s remorse took root. According to a recent NPD survey, 17 percent of shoppers said they returned, or planned to return, products they purchased for themselves while holiday shopping, while only 12 percent planned to return gifts they received from others*.
Holiday sales captured the attention of consumers; there is no question about that. More than seven out of every 10 shoppers took advantage of sales offered when making purchases for themselves or others this holiday season*, but the early and constant promotions may have altered the consumer’s shopping habits to a point where it worked against retailers. Whether shoppers didn’t give a lot of thought to their pre-purchase decision making, or they returned and re-purchased items to get a better deal, the heavy promotion approach appears to have backfired to some degree.
The shopping experience remains challenged by the lack of new products, confusion from blurred channel lines, and an evolving consumer base that simply demands more. Retailers looking ahead towards holiday 2016 should be careful what they wish for – earlier promotions may bring earlier shopping, but that doesn’t ensure greater sales results in total. Retailers need to do a better job of pacing the holiday, putting sales in place at strategic and necessary times, rather than the shotgun approach we have seen for the past few years. Consumers have just so much money to spend, and just so many people on their gift lists. Deliver new and exciting merchandise, and put the excitement back in holiday shopping. That will drive consumers to buy on impulse (because they really want something, not just because it is a good deal), get caught up in the holiday spirit, and ultimately bring growth to the holiday season.
*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / December 2015 Omnibus
Have you noticed just how many people are walking the streets or shopping the stores in sweat pants? How about the number of people wearing yoga pants (by day and by night) to the gym, in the gym, and after the gym? These pants are now perfectly acceptable by most standards. Consumers have inspired their own fashion trend, and many manufacturers and retailers are just now catching up. Activewear has been around for a long time, but not since the 90s-inspired Juicy Couture Warmup suits have we seen so much attention to the activewear market. Activewear is up 9% for the 12 months ending December 2013, compared to the total apparel market, which is only up 2% over the same time period.
This consumer driven trend is beginning to be offered in stores as the seasonal change of merchandise is happening in stores now. Most of this growth has come from the athletic market, as well as a few tried-and-true active brands. Activewear makes up 16% of the total apparel market, a trend that will likely change as we see more men and women shift to this truly casual style. Consumers tell me they love the feel of being able to wear such comfortable clothes without the need to “fuss” over what to wear. Whether consumers are running errands or meeting friends, it is now all about doing it in casual style. Even pajama pants are getting into the act, which demonstrates the continued migration towards casual wear.
Activewear is doing well across the range of categories, too: tops and bottoms are both up 6%, outerwear is up 17%, intimates are up 14%, and even socks are up 11%.
Consumers are loving activewear and the active lifestyle. In fact, when asked about their 2014 New Year’s resolution, consumers placed health and fitness as their number one resolution. This marks the first time in over a decade that NPD has been tracking resolutions that consumers didn’t rank diet/food as their top resolution. Regardless of how many of us actually stick to our resolutions and live active lifestyles, most will continue to stick to activewear clothing well into 2014.
Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Consumer Tracking Service, 12 months ending December 2013, dollar sales
Holiday weekend shopping results (Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Saturday) are looking good for both brick and click retailers.
The top ten categories that scored well are filled with a few surprises. Topping the list was apparel (no surprise) with 28 percent of purchases, followed by toys at 11 percent (no surprise there, either). But here is the kicker: footwear, which was one of the items we called out in an earlier blog as a hot category to watch for this holiday season, comes in third at 9 percent. Movies and food were both at 9 percent as well. Video games followed at 6 percent, and apparently, appliances make great gifts these days, also securing 6 percent of purchases (so much for the rule about not buying a gift with a plug for a loved one). Gift cards and tablets both started off hot again this year at 5 percent, and the perennial top 10 ranked, books, came in at 4 percent of purchases.
With footwear being a popular “self-gifting” item, the rise of footwear to the top three illustrates the influence that self-gifting has on holiday sales. This, combined with retailers doing a better job of including footwear in their doorbuster sales, made it a force to be reckoned with. For example, one area in stores that saw some of the biggest crowds (and the most chaos) were shoppers grabbing the big shoe boxes filled with boots at great prices. With 4 percent of purchases, TV’s did well, too. I don’t know many people that give a big screen TV as a gift, which leads me to believe that this part of the holiday shopping season is as much about self-gifting and deal hunting as it is about purchasing gifts for others.
Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Anatomy of Black Friday study, November 2013
While many of us may have noticed others might have not, recently men have been quietly carrying around what women have been addicted to for decades – a bag for their essential items. Men have been silently learning just how important it is to have a bag to carry their “stuff.” “Stuff” such as electronics, chargers, headphones, glasses, grooming tools and products, and even good old fashioned books. And just think about the practical side of this. Men’s clothing has gotten tighter again. Now where do men put those keys or phone?
With this change in fashion and lifestyle, men now do need to carry a bag. The question for most men is just what type. The clutch is growing in popularity in Europe and Asia again but here in the states the European designers are providing a more commercial version with smaller over the shoulder bags and messenger styles. The NPD Group, Inc. Consumer Tracking Service reports that men’s handbags and totes are growing again, 3 percent from July 2012 – June 2013 vs. July 2011 – June 2012. Backpacks, which have been the most popular choice for the past few years, continue their growth spurt with 24 percent more dollars being spent from July 2012 – June 2013 vs. July 2011 vs. June 2012.
So what does all this mean? With more and more devices and tools to lug around in order keep up their image, men are taking a page out of the women’s play book and gravitating to the bag. The real question is going to be just what type of bag will he carry. Might this be the quietly emerging gift to give that special guy this holiday?
So no longer is it just clothes he needs, it’s a bag too.
So just how important is Fashion Week to the business of Fashion? Well, according to the numbers that the NYC Tourism Bureau released – very important. New York Fashion Week contributes more revenue to the city than any other annual event in the NY Metro area. More than the U.S. Open tennis tournament, football games, and concerts. Restaurants, taxi cabs, hotels and even street vendors experience a major lift in their businesses when Fashion Week is in full swing. The short-term objective for Fashion Week – to drive sales for the local businesses – is always a success.
What about the national retail community? Do the “looks” that march down the runway actually make it in-store and influence the consumer buy the new product? The answers are yes and yes. As we see the annual evolution in how the brands and designers utilize Fashion Week as a platform, we find the runway is becoming more accessible to the consumer. They have more access to the shows via the media and internet allowing them to view the shows first-hand. This component, part of the larger strategy for the more cutting-edge designers and brands to connect with their consumer rather than the couture fashion crowd, is working.
The use of unwearable fashion is not obsolete, but the smartest brands and designers today find a way to get the right balance to be able to sell the brand to the retailer as well as to the consumer. Fashion is relevant again. Men have already shown signs that image matters by their desire to invest in their wardrobes to look good. Women were missing in action the past few years but in the past four months they have started to update their tired wardrobes to show a renewed fashion sense. This year, Fashion Week has elevated retailers and brands in the eye of the consumers and as a result, got them back in the game.
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