This morning Bain & Company released a study, in conjunction with American Vogue, on the shopping habits of the “style-conscious” US consumer. They say it’s the first such attempt to look at these fashion addicts (my words) - women who spend more than $1,000 on apparel, or $250 on accessories, or $100 on beauty, and who “select a 3, 4, or 5 on a 5-point scale for the following questions: ‘I follow the latest fashions’ and ‘I am stylish’” — across the every price point market in clothing, accessories, and beauty. There are some interesting bits.
Bain reports, for example, that 40 per cent of the population is responsible for 70 per cent of its spend; these shoppers spend an average of $2800 a year, which is three times the national average; they spend twice as much on clothes on-line as average consumers; and 80 per cent say they will be pay more for quality. Yowza!Here’s something else interesting: in the part of the study entitled ”2010 Bain/Vogue Fashion and Beauty Brand Index” to the most popular brands, the top apparel brands were: Express, Victoria’s Secret, and Banana Republic. Ralph Lauren was the only luxury brand in the top 10, squeaking in at number 10. Burberry was 11. Out of 15, that was it. Of course, given how Bain structured the equation — which was based on frequency of purchases with a brand, and brand loyalty — this is not entirely a surprise: how often would you buy a $800 sweater? On the other hand, Louis Vuitton was number three in accessories, so someone is buying handbags (though Hermes did not make it on at all).
To get their results, Bain polled 5,000 women out of some 10,000 they initially contacted (the remaining half were their control group), and as a result of their findings they have identified some new consumer types, and given them names like “fashion mavens” and “classic professionals,” which are pretty self-explanatory. Then the study suggests “how to find” said women: the first visits fashion and beauty websites and blogs, apparently, and uses mobile apps, and the second likes magazines. And that’s where I got stuck. Because as far as I can tell, this doesn’t really tell us much of anything about the shopper. Her spending habits, yes; her self, no.
But that’s what I would want to find out, if I was a fashion brand trying to use this report to reach a new audience and tailor my communications. What do all these women do? (We get spend levels but not income or profession.) Where do they live? Are they urban? Suburban? Married? What books/movies/music do they like? Where do they go on vacation? Do they like to go out to dinner? Do they care about celebrities? Who do they admire? And so on. Shopping is about lots of things, after all – among them self-image, aspiration, emotional panaceas, and value systems. By her night-table reading, ye shall begin to know her.