Convenience is the New Currency

February 27, 2018 § Leave a comment

We do a good bit of research on what drives purchases in retail. Our research among female retail consumers points to the truth that convenience is today’s currency. In fact, it is so important that it might be the most powerful force shaping our lives and economy, according to a recent New York Times article called it “The Tyranny of Convenience”.

Just think about the types of convenience that exists today – mobile banking, Amazon shopping, grocery pick-up and delivery services, all kinds task apps, movie apps, on-demand movies, ride-sharing, meal services, clothing services and more.

While conventional wisdom might think that women spend more time shopping,; men spend three hours shopping, versus women spending two and a half, and men are twice as likely to visit more stores than women do.

For your business to have cultural relevance today, it is imperative to understand what convenience means to your customers. What is convenient for your business may not be convenient for the customer. To your customer, their need may be same-day pick-up, self-checkout, more convenient hours or online chat to facilitate online shopping. It may be omni-shopping with the ability to shop online and pick up at the store.

A new research study by Catalyst, a marketing agency specializing in the retail sector, found that the top five motivators for brick and mortar shoppers were convenience, efficiency, good customer service, and product quality, with value important to all.

Time Well Spent. It seems that if shoppers are going to take the time to come to your store, you need to provide them with an experience that equates to value and convenience. Think about an Apple Store with its live demo of products, workshops, informed sales representatives, and iPad checkout.

Do a convenience audit of your business. Talk to your customers about what they value in the shopping experience. Don’t be afraid to make changes.


Super Bowl Audience Drops

February 14, 2018 § Leave a comment

The football industry and women are having an interesting time.  This year’s Super Bowl saw their audience drop while still being one of the most watched events. The number is down 7% from the 111.3 million that tuned in for last year’s Super Bowl, making it the least-watched Super Bowl since 2009.

Half of the viewers of the Super Bowl are women.  But declining football viewership may have been affected this season by player protests, domestic violence reports and continuing health concerns about players.

Moms are beginning to hold their sons back from the sport.  Even Justin Timberlake said he didn’t want his son playing football.  Today Show reported the issue of allowing children to play football has become part of a national conversation over the safety of the sport, particularly among youth. Many parents have become skeptical about letting their kids play football because of numerous studies over the link between repeated concussions and lasting brain damage.

On the flip side, women are looking at football as a career.  Women make up roughly half of all NFL fans but currently just a third of league employees with no female head coaches or general managers.  But the NFL is helping women get on the path to a career in the game with forums on the finer points of coaching, scouting players, and more.

On the advertising side, the 3% Conference were rating the advertising to women.  The #3percentsb hashtag asked viewers to rate spots on whether there was a woman in the spot, whether she was defying stereotypes or was she the hero.  This year there were less women spokespersons and some tone deaf ads were panned like the Dodge Ram MLK spot.  One tweeter said @jtimberlake has more backup dancers and band members that are female than all of the Super Bowl advertisements that have aired so far, combined.

Self Purchasing Women is Growing Consumer Segment

September 30, 2017 § Leave a comment

Beyonce’ may have had a hit with Put a Ring on It but there is a growing consumer trend among young adults who are not married, not living with a partner and are without children. These women are “single indies” and they are an emerging consumer segment buying their own rings – and everything else.

There are some 31 million “Indie Women” constituting about a third of all adult women; they tend to have more disposable income than other women, spending $1 trillion each year — $22 billion on vehicles (five times more than independent men), $20 billion on entertainment, and $50 billion on food; they over-index for television by 12%, watching 15% to 64% more late night programs than average women; and they are multi-screen users.

They are also more socially engaged online both as info seekers and as advocates, being 6% more likely to pay attention to online consumer ratings and reviews, and 12% more likely to say their friends ask them for health and nutrition advice. And they are 10% more likely to say they are pretty much first among friends to shop at a new store.

And they are successful, being the first generation of women to reverse the ceiling in school and at work. They are 57% of undergrads, 59% of masters degree holders, and 52% of managerial positions.  The appeal of this market is beginning to grow among brands seeking to reach the younger audience.

2014 was the first year there were more single American adults than married ones in the U.S.

One of the interesting purchase trends is jewelry. A study on jewelry purchases by the market research firm Mintel, conducted in 2012, showed that more than half of the women who bought for themselves did so simply to treat themselves.  Occasions for women buying jewelry for themselves include marking an important life event such as birthday, career success or certain occasion, a bonding experience with someone like a friend or child, or anniversaries like surviving cancer.

And back to Beyonce’ — it seems that women are really buying diamonds for themselves instead of waiting on a groom. The disposable household income of the independent women buying diamonds is more than $90,000.

The idea of “Treat Yo’ Self” was born out of a 2011 Parks and Recreation episode in which Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) and Donna Meagle (Retta) spend a day celebrating themselves by buying stuff like “clothes, fragrances, massages, mimosas, and fine leather goods.” When it aired, the “treat yo’ self” catchphrase immediately became part of millennials’ vocabulary.  So now advertisers have used the phrase to connect with this self-purchase trend.

Marketers are developing new approaches and new language for self-purchasing women, trying to appeal to them.

Mall Shopping No Longer Cool

April 18, 2016 § 1 Comment

1110_macys-nyc_650x4551The mall is no longer the cultural center of consumerism.  The crown jewels of mall shopping like Macy’s, J Crew and Sears are suffering.  Some predict 15% of malls will fail or be converted into non-retail space within the next ten years. In 2015 major retailers saw sales move away from brick and mortar stores while online giant Amazon increased sales 97%.

There are many reasons contributing to this decline but most importantly, there is a new savvy shopper out there who wants or needs new experiences.

  1. The mall as a hangout or destination is no longer necessary. Young people used to go to the mall to see and be seen. Today, social media, text messages and video chats replace some of that social activity. Movies can be downloaded. And goods are accessible online. So, the number of retail visits continues to fall. Time saving is paramount for many.
  1. The middle class shopper has moved on. Only upscale shopping centers are surviving. The affluent are keeping luxury brands in business, but middle class shoppers have left semi-luxury brands in favor of cheaper alternatives. The middle class shopper is less financially able to shop malls. Upscale malls in “super zip codes” are doing well, but the middle class mall is suffering. Middle class shoppers are seeking out dollar stores and stand alone retailers like Walmart and T. J. Maxx.
  1. Savvy shoppers are in control. Educated shoppers know where to get the best deal. Shopping decisions start online with price comparison. Some 87% of smartphone and tablet owners use a mobile device for shopping activities according to a Nielsen report. While 59% said online shopping was actually their favorite way to shop, many still prefer going to a store after checking prices online. Purchases are moving online, particularly with the prevalence of free shipping at many online retailers. Purchases are going to mega sellers like Amazon, department store online shops, boutiques, designer sites and buying clubs like Gilt and RueLaLa. With this type of price scrutiny, retailers have moved to heavy promotional selling.
  1. Fashion is moving to more year-round clothing. Traditional seasonal shopping has been replaced by just-in-time shopping to more closely follow current weather patterns. Year-round shopping and the prevalence of discount fashion like H&M has changed patterns and total expenditures.
  1. The retailer options have continued to grow. Premium outlet centers has replaced the mall for many bargain seekers and sales continue to grow. But discounting by major retailers and the continued growth of online shopping may make outlet centers less attractive for savvy shoppers in the future.




Instant Fashion and Seasonless Clothes?

April 18, 2016 § Leave a comment

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 17: A model showcases designs on the catwalk by Burberry Prorsum on day 4 of London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2013, at Kensington Gardens on September 17, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

Fashion house Burberry announced they are replacing a four-show season with two shows that will be more “seasonless, immediate and personal”.  These fashion shows in September and February will have collections for both men and women that will be available for purchase immediately after viewing.  What’s behind this trend?

A desire for immediate of purchase, the ubiquity of social media and seasonless fashion are shaping the new fashion industry.

Luxury designers like Burberry are rethinking the way they reach consumers to adapt to the world of online shopping and social media. In today’s world, the fashion headlines are daily, not seasonal, and are shaped by bloggers and celebrities, rather than magazines like Vogue. Fashion shows are increasingly seen as outdated. The daily catwalk is Instagram. And fashion is shared instantly on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. The time between the introduction of collections and the ability to purchase needs to be shortened from the old system of a six-month lag. The collections lose the momentum created during the runway show.

Diane Von Furstenberg skipped the runway completely this year. She presented her collection at a party in her offices, featuring vignettes with models wearing the clothes in real life situations.

Burberry has made a strong commitment to digital to create immediate gratification for shoppers. Burberry has made sure they are on all the social media platforms including smaller ones like Periscope and Snapchat.

Runway shows for fashion houses are live streamed. The exclusivity is gone. Kanye West’s opening of New York Fashion Week was watched by a staggering 20 million people via live stream, while London Fashion Week shows are apparently broadcast to 60 outdoor locations around the UK. Luxury retailers are not trying to emulate the fast fashion brands like Zara and H&M, but they are recognizing the desire for immediate purchase.

We live in a world where we spend time in artificially cold or warm environments thanks to air-conditioning and central heating and clear demarcations between the seasons are not as apparent. Climate change, a growing global market for high fashion, and travel makes seasonless fashion more important. When it’s winter in Britain, it’s summer in Australia.

Disruption has even hit fashion.

Marketing to Women: Eight Tips to Optimize Your Retail Layout

January 1, 2016 § 1 Comment

mobile-shoppingI have worked with retailers for most of my career and sharp retailers know that every single foot of store space needs to work hard.  Spend some time in your store observing customers and what they are doing.  And then try some tried and true store layout tips gleaned from retail consultants Kizer & Bender that might help get your stores optimized for the best selling environment.

  1.  Allow for a “decompression zone”.  When consumers enter a store, 90% will typically turn to the right.  Shoppers typically don’t notice merchandising displays within 15 feet of the entrance.  The first thing that customers are noticing is your general decor, your brand statement about your store – walls, flooring, accent colors, fixtures, pleasing smells and comfortable aisle widths. Your checkout should never be in the right front of your store.
  2. Check your Vista.  According to Kizer and Bender, stand inside your front door just beyond the Decompression Zone (about 5’ inside the store) and spread your arms out at shoulder height with your index fingers extended. The space you see is called the Vista – the area that builds a shopper’s first impression of your store. The space inside the Vista needs to be clean, uncluttered and full of not-to-be-missed product. This is where you should place your Speed Bump displays.  Speed Bumps are just past the decompression zone and are the place for those attractive items.  Speed bumps can be special fixturing or small tables for display.
  3. Color is important.  Neutral colors are used in 80% of all stores, with strong accent colors used sparingly.  The wrong colors can change the whole shopping experience.
  4. Choose a story layout that fits your business.  There are three types of store layouts– the Grid Layout typically used in supermarkets and big box stores, the Loop (Racetrack) layout that creates a clearly defined path through the store, and the Free Flow Layout, typically used by specialty retailers, where they find new merchandise displays at every turn. Make sure you are always leading a customer somewhere.  Most stores use a circular path to get the customer to walk through the store and back to the front.  But keep “merchandising outposts” in their path so they can discover items as they walk through the store.
  5. The Power Wall.  Walk inside the front door, stop just past your decompression zone and turn right.  That’s your Power Wall, the place to display important departments, new and seasonal items, high demand and high-profit items.
  6. Where’s the Bananas?  Every store has a high volume necessity item like bananas or motor oil that customers always look for.  Put them in a back place along the shopping loop that encourages your shopper to shop the entire store.
  7. Store Fixturing is a tool.  Keep in mind the purpose of the fixture.  You aren’t supposed to see the fixture.  You should see the merchandise.
  8. Check out should be placed at a natural stopping point in the shopping experience or path you have created.  Have a counter big enough for shoppers to place their bags and/or personal belongings.  Last chance for encouraging impulse or “last minute” items.

And don’t forget technology in today’s world.  The technology can include digital screens, iPads to aid shopping and online helps.  Does your store have WiFi?  It should because shoppers are using their smartphones in-store.


Plus Size Fashion Continues to Grow

November 9, 2015 § 1 Comment

SHEVA-Ashley-TiptonIt’s no secret that the average American woman is a size 14. And it seems that American fashion is beginning to take note.

Several things have happened recently to amp up the plus size movement.  Project Runway celebrated its first plus size fashion designer win last week.  Ashley Tipton is only the second designer on the show who has specialized in plus sizes.  Her unique collection celebrated her Mexican heritage, a nod to Frida Kahlo and a fashion forward plus look.  Recently Melissa McCarthy launched her own clothing line which is carried at retailers like Nordstrom’s and shopping network HSN.

According to market research firm NPD group, sales of plus-size clothes grew five percent in 2014, making it a $17.5 billion industry.  What’s more the study defined ‘plus-size’ as U.S. size 18 and up, whereas in the fashion industry it starts at size 14, meaning the growth may well have been significantly larger.

Over the past two years, plus-size sales within the e-commerce category have grown 31%.  Online shopping seems to take a larger share of plus size shopping. Even traditional retailers have more plus size options online.

The Opportunity


Most plus-size women feel that their body size is not sufficiently represented in fashion and retail.  A recent study from ModCloth found that 46% of plus-size women ‘never or rarely’ find clothing that flatters their body.
The online retailer surveyed more than 1,500 women to determine how they feel about the current state of the plus-size market.  They found that most women are dissatisfied. Some 81%  said they would spend more on clothing if there were more options available in their size.


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