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 Traditional seasonal shopping has been replaced by just-in-time shopping to more closely follow current weather patterns.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.

 

 

 

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Barbie Talks Her New Look and What It Means for Girls

February 11, 2016 § 1 Comment

We couldn’t believe it when Barbie stopped by to talk to us about her new curves.  Was it Beyonce29barbie-web-master675 or Barbie? Oh well, her new dolls now strut four new body types and, even more skin tones and hairstyles.  It seems her bosses at Mattel have been putting Barbie through a transformation in the past two years to make her more like real girls.

There has been a long-time criticism of dolls that do not portray accurate body images. Since her introduction in 1959, the Barbie doll has been at a center of debate because of her unattainable female image, seen as harmful to shaping children’s sense of ideal. Adult women still agonize over their shape and weight.

Barbie says Mattel has responded to create images of women that give girls and boys a better reflection of diversity and body types. She wants to move into a new era of body acceptance that is represented by not one but 33 different versions of Barbie – four different body types, 22 eye colors, seven different skin tones, different face shapes, and 24 hair styles. The original 11.5″ Barbie represents a woman whose figure measurements were 38-18-34.

The new debut is not solely a matter of cultural relevance. The once trendy Barbie powerhouse brand has suffered in recent years as girls have turned to other toys and electronic options. The brand has experienced double-digit declines in recent years. Yet, some 92% of American girls age 3-12 have owned a Barbie.

Children seem to understand and appreciate that the new Barbie dolls now look more like them with different types of hair and body shapes and feet that will fit into running shoes as well as runway shoes.

Mattel has been working to shape Barbie into realistic body standards including feet that are not perpetually shaped to fit into high heels.

Barbie told us the new shapes will be available for sale March 1, with some 33 new versions of the fashionista available.

Barbie says she hopes the new dolls will be a better reflection of what true beauty is. But Barbie says that even her new look is not without criticism. Some say that the doll is still focused only on appearance, fashion and stereotypical interests of women.

As I talked to Barbie, I thought about my own childhood. I never owned a Barbie doll but I did have lots of dolls, beautiful ones that did represent more normal shapes. Was my mother ahead of her time? I don’t know but I do know that self-esteem is shaped by more than a doll.

Millennials Are Today’s Food & Wine Tastemakers

November 9, 2015 § Leave a comment

3040348-slide-s-4-meet-the-brand-that-got-millennials-hooked-on-sparkling-wineMillennial foodies are the new “tastemakers”. What Millennials want in food today is what the rest of the world will soon be asking for. This savvy generation loves lots of informal celebrations, intense flavor profiles, ethnic cuisines, more natural foods and lots of snacks. Champagnes like Chandon are courting Millennials as an irreverent celebration alternative to their parents’ brands and are designing bottles to fit their occasions.

Restaurants are working hard to cater to millennials as their incomes and spending habits grow.   Here are some important facts to understand.

  1.  They eat out more often.  53% of the group goes out to eat once a week, compared with 43% for the general population. They eat out more often in all categories – quick serve, casual dining and fast casual.  While they all eat fast food, millennials don’t want to admit to eating it.  They are the least likely to recommend fast food to others.  Fast casual is their favorite.  Millennials compose 51% of fast casual customers.
  2. They want healthy food which means fresh, less processed and with fewer artificial ingredients.
  3. They want food that comes from socially responsible companies.  Types of companies that they like include those who have principles around fair trade, sustainability and fair wages.   Companies that exhibit these qualities include Starbucks and Chipolte.
  4. They like to support local restaurants.  Again this means higher quality food, social ethics, ethnic foods and flavor profiles.
  5. They want convenience which translates to easy online ordering, stellar apps and rewards programs. Starbucks has scored big with their new app revamp for pick-up orders.
  6. Sriracha is on everything.  It is stocked in 9% of American households and in 16% of those under 35.
  7. They celebrate a lot.  According to CEB Iconoculture, Millennials are celebrating more than just the traditional holidays. Super Bowl Parties, May the 4th Be With You celebrations (for Star Wars fans), and single girls’ gatherings for Valentine’s Day are just a few ways Millennials are celebrating outside of traditional holidays.
  8. The line between snacks and meals is blurring. According to research by Barkley and BCG, Millennials tend to snack far more than older generations. It is very common for Millennials to regularly have snacks in the mid-morning, mid-afternoon and late at night.

On the alcohol side of things, Chandon reports that 27 percent of adult millennials now choose beer as their favorite alcoholic drink and a lot of that beer is craft beer.   But beer consumption is down from 33 percent in 2012, leaving room for other products including vodkas, wines and sparkling wines.  Millennials like craft brands and made-for-me brands.  Chandon has targeted Millennials with its “celebrate everyday” strategy, moving sparkling wines from only end of year special occasions to everyday occasions.  Since Chandon is technically not Champagne since it is from Napa Valley, the wine has become Americanized.  Chandon has been able to reimagine how sparkling wine can be consumed—and by whom.  Chandon typically sells for a lower price point as well.

But price alone is not enough to lure young adults.  They seek an experience.  Chandon has given the classic champagne bottle a trendy makeover and creates seasonal designs for its bottles.  Last year Chandon put out three limited-edition bottles that are scrawled with the phrases “The Party Starts Here,” “Bring on the Fun,” and “I am the After Party.”   Ideally, consumers can pick out the bottle that matches their personality.  Their marketing also matches this new look with a heavy dependence on social media using image heavy social platforms like Instagram.

“Any marketer will tell you that it is very difficult to change consumer behavior,” Cristian Yanez, VP of Estate and Wines at Moet Hennessy USA, Chandon’s parent company says. “But with sparkling wine, we’ve found that a simple approach works best. I know it sounds a bit basic, but just giving people another excuse to drink a bottle of sparkling wine is sometimes all we need to do.”

 

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

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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.

 

A Google Survey Can Answer Burning Questions Quickly and Inexpensively

November 8, 2015 § 1 Comment

11665626_10153123754483752_7259716457234014637_nWant to know something right away? The Google Consumer Survey is a new way to quickly answer marketing questions like “are brides keeping their maiden names”. The New York Times recently quoted a Google Consumer Survey, reporting some 20% of women married in recent years have kept their names. The Google Consumer Survey is a great alternative for quick-turn around questions. How does it work?

If you are thinking about a pre-test of a marketing campaign, testing some key product messages or gauging opinion or reactions, Google Consumer Surveys could be your answer.

With Google Consumer Surveys, you can write your own survey questions online.  You pick your target, either the entire US internet population or a custom audience: 25-34 year olds, people who live in Nashville, women, etc. The survey can be fielded to a validated, representative sample of respondents whenever you want it.  That means quick results.

Where do the respondents come from?  Unlike traditional survey methods, Google survey respondents are people browsing the web who come across your questions as they seek out online content, such as news, entertainment and reference sites.  I have answered questions on sites like The Tennessean to be able to access stories. Users answer up to 10 questions in exchange for access to the content.  

Google says they automatically aggregate and analyze responses, providing the data through a simple online interface. They give you interactive histograms, clickable demographic segmentation and comparisons, and statistically significant insights―all easily sharable.   Results appear as they come in, with full survey completion within days.

And pricing is really attractive.  General population surveys are $.10 per complete for 1 question surveys and $1.00 per complete for 2-10 question surveys (regardless of how many questions you have).

Surveys targeted towards specific age, gender, or location demographics are now $.15 for 1 question surveys and $1.50 per complete for 2-10 question surveys.

So back to maiden names for women today!  The Google survey found that higher-income urban women were much more likely to keep their names.  The Times compared this subgroup to the wedding pages of The Times. Their results: nearly half of women featured in The Times since 1985 changed their names, while about a quarter kept their names and a quarter did not say, according to an analysis of 7,835 opposite-sex wedding announcements in five-year intervals.

It seems the resurgence in keeping names could be because women now go to college at higher rates than men, celebrities usually opt for their single names and couples commonly live together before marriage using both names.  By the time, women marry, they have established themselves by their maiden name.

So, Google on friends.

 

 

Five Things You Need to Know About This Holiday Season

October 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

635527976455857363-NAS-DECKHALL-01We haven’t heard Brenda Lee singing Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree yet, but holiday shopping has already begun.  Around 32 million Americans –- or 14% of consumers -– have started their holiday shopping.  Or should we say 32 million women have started their shopping?

Google has identified five holiday shopping trends we need to watch this year, based on last year’s behavior.

  1. This will be the most connected holiday shopping season ever. Forty percent of holiday shopping occurred online last year and this year will be bigger. We rely more on the internet for holiday research than we do friends and family.
  2. Mobile will continue to influence more sales. Nearly 28% of all retail sales were influenced by shopping-related mobile searches. Fifty-three percent of those who shopped online used mobile smartphones and tablets to make purchases.
  3. Early shopping will take away some of the clout of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Some 48% of holiday shoppers say they did the majority of their shopping on or before Cyber Monday, up from 40% in 2013.
  4. Consumers more open to new stores and brands for holiday shopping.More than half of shoppers were open to buying from a new retailer and 41% actually made purchases at new retailer.
  5. Holiday shoppers turn to peer review on You Tube. Of people who watched online videos to help with holiday shopping, 68% preferred product videos from “people like me.”

Marketing to Women: There’s A New Attitude to Age in Fashion Advertising

July 1, 2015 § Leave a comment

76e060497e162287b020886ac51d2ef5What happened to fashion’s love affair with youth? Are we finally acknowledging the beauty of older women? There seems to be a new attitude towards style at any age. Cher is the latest in a string of new celebrity endorsers for brands like Marc Jacobs that include interesting older women in their ads like 93-year-old Iris Apfel, 69-year-old Helen Mirren, 65-year-old Jessica Lange, and 63-year-old Angelica Huston. It seems that brands are embracing the buying power of older women.

Kate Spade featured 93-year-old legend Iris Apfel in her recent fashion campaign. Fashion house Celine launched a flare with their Spring 2015 campaign using 80-year old author Joan Didion. Helen Mirren, 69, and Twiggy, 65, are brand ambassadors for L’Oreal. Catherine Deneuve, 71, models for Louis Vuitton, Jessica Lange, 65, for Marc Jacobs and Angelica Huston, 63, for Gap.

Millennials seem to have a fascination not only with vintage clothes but with the older woman and her style. My daughter introduced me to the blog and documentary Advanced Style that has become a bit of a phenom among younger women. The work focuses on sartorially adventurous women who are fashion plates of a certain age.

Why are major brands betting on these faces? There is a universal acknowledgement that wealthier older women are more likely to purchase high-end goods. Just like Baby Boomers have changed culture at every age, they continue to have an impact as they enter their older years. Baby boomers control more than 80% of all financial assets and account for as much as 60% of consumer spending. Brands are embracing the buying power of older women. Consumers of a certain age like to see the “best” of their generation and aspire to look as good as Helen Mirren or Jessica Lange.

The 55+ set have their place in all types of shopping including the television shopping channels.  Iris Apfel has her own line of jewelry on HSN, Iman has her unique fashion line on HSN and Joan Rivers, even after death, continues to have a presence on QVC. Not surprising, HSN reports their average buyer is someone who knows what she wants. A lot of the women who are frequenting these television retailers are professional women, buying while they’re at work, browsing online at the office. QVC and HSN shoppers are more affluent consumers, and they are also repeat buyers. Most of them buy about ten times a year, so they’re loyal.   Our postman told my husband that once a QVC package lands on a doorstep, there are many to follow.

While brands may not exclusively rely on older style mavens, some reported they are instituting a multi-generational approach, while they also embrace a multi-size approach.

Age seems to be relative these days.  It’s more about how we feel than our chronological age. Maybe we are now accepting age as a sign of confidence and self-assuredness. It is a good thing to have matured into an interesting and beautiful being.

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