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 Traditional seasonal shopping has been replaced by just-in-time shopping to more closely follow current weather patterns.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

Super Bowl 50 Ads. Proof Women Respond Differently.

February 20, 2016 § Leave a comment

Neilsen research shows there are significant differences in how men and women think, react, shop and watch.  Understanding how these differences can drive behavior can help marketers create more effective advertising and marketing campaigns.  Something Super Bowl 50 advertising clearly illustrated.

A Look at the Super Bowl 50 Ads

This year many of the ads appealed directly to women featuring racing dachshunds (my favorite), Doritos shopping dogs, Super Bowl babies and Hyundai’s spots featuring first dates and distracting men.   Spot Trender did interesting research comparing several spots for gender appeal.

UnknownIn a head to head playoff with Hyundai and Acura, Hyundai did a better job.  The Hyundai spot featuring Ryan Reynolds showed a car that didn’t get distracted like the women driving it.  Women loved this spot.  But a few men (13%) were offended by it, or maybe just a little jealous of Reynolds.  Acura’s “What He Said” ad for the Acura NSX was all rock music, special effects and speed.  It was liked less than the Hyundai ad by both genders but clearly less than females.

INTUIT-Death-Wish-Coffee-720x415 The Death Wish coffee spot featured Vikings in a masculine approach to advertising coffee, even using the line “fiercely caffeinated”.  The spot did well with men but the Starbucks ad showing a mom making her Starbucks on a lazy weekend morning did much better with women and did well with men as well.

Contrasts in Men and Women Brains

Nielsen says that while male and female brains may look alike on the outside, there are contrasts in how men and women process information, express emotion, interact with others and ultimately approach their daily activities that involve media and shopping.

Gender Differences

Women are hardwired for:

  • Big-picture thinking
  • Multi-tasking
  • “Gut” reasoning
  • Social and verbal skills
  • Worry/Empathy

Men are preconditioned for:

  • Concrete thinking
  • Goal-oriented tasks
  • Logical solutions
  • Competition/defense

Differences in Advertising Appeal

When looking at advertising, women under 35 like ads that are upbeat, aspirational, celebrity-focused, occasionally silly, but never mean-spirited.  Women 35-54 may respond more favorably to messages that are sentimental, highlight real-life activities, family friendly and relatable.  Men are looking for fast acting movement, competitive activities and often, sadly, suggestive humor.

 

Tying this together, we see shopping patterns emerge.  Men are goal-oriented shoppers.  They shop to win or complete a goal.  Women are more likely to browse around and shop for deals and special offers.  Research says women are more attuned to discount and promotional news than men (men 57% vs. women 62%).  Women might head to a factory outlet with name brands while men might go to the department store and pay full price.  A few years ago, J.C. Penney learned an expensive lesson on the importance of promotions when they eliminated sales, promotions and coupons and drove away their core audience.

Marketing should employ creative elements and styles that resonate with the way the female brain works. Emotion wins the day over logical facts every time.  That doesn’t mean women don’t want information; they will seek out the information after they become interested.   Women also appreciate authenticity, social consciousness, and nuance.   The female brain is programmed to maintain social harmony, so messaging shouldn’t focus on conflict.

“Women relate to a more aspirational approach, connecting with happy situations that feature characters who allow a woman to imagine herself in their shoes,” says the report. Men like the offbeat humor embodied by “normal guys” in exaggerated situations.

Frequency of advertising also plays into gender receptivity.  Women can absorb more information in a 30-second ad than men but they are harder to convince, often only deciding to buy after multiple exposures.

 

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.

Rey from Star Wars is Our New Girl Crush

February 11, 2016 § Leave a comment

da821a3413019200569cccb82e2f84db88211185Disney seemed to think that only boys want action figures so our new crush Rey was left out of the toy line-up for the  newest Star Wars movie.  Guess those toy makers forgot who buys toys for their children. The dominant toy shopper is female.  A social media campaign brought the omission to light, so now you can buy Rey toys.

We asked Girls To The Moon founder Courtenay Rogers her take on the Star Wars Rey and here’s what she offered.

“I’m extremely late to the Star Wars bandwagon. Like, over 30 years late.

My brother saw all of the movies when we were kids but I had no interest in watching movies so I missed the excitement the first time around, though we had every toy imaginable in our house. I never really got around to watching the famous movies until I realized my daughter wanted to see them so we decided to spend some quality time understanding what the fuss was all about.

The “original” three movies were very intriguing to watch, especially from an 8-year old’s perspective. She couldn’t stop talking about how old fashioned they were and even at 37, the difference between cinematography in the late 1970’s and 1980’s amazed me. The plots were interesting and the stories were compelling, but I didn’t end up a huge Star Wars fan. But then we saw the 7th film, The Force Awakens.

This movie is exceptional and my absolute favorite part is the addition of Rey, who is basically the main character (in my opinion) and made such an impression on me that I want to watch all of the movies again. Rey is a badass. Plain and simple. She is strong, intelligent, driven, powerful and independent. She is everything I strive to be and everything I want my daughter to strive for as she grows up. Yet, when merchandise started appearing to promote the movie and even after it was released, Rey was nowhere to be found.

A set of Hasbro figurines that were created to coincide with the release of the film didn’t include the heroine and fans took to social media to express their outrage.  The #WheresRey hashtag on Twitter took off, targeted at figurines that includes Chewbacca, Finn and Kylo Ren but excludes Rey, the female protagonist of the film played by Daisy Ridley. The film’s director JJ Abrams even joined the conversation saying that this was “preposterous and wrong” while addressing the Television Critic’s Association in early January.

Forbes reports that “the assumption underlying each of these promotional choices discounts women’s buying power. Earlier this year, the MPAA released its annual breakdown of movie audience demographics, revealing that women constituted 52% of moviegoers in 2014. This trend, the study further explains, has prevailed since 2010. And though the highest-grossing films in the United States and Canada skewed 59 percent male with Guardians of the Galaxy, the second-place position went to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, whose audience was 57 percent female. And the movie was fronted by a woman. Since Star Wars — also featuring a female lead — is expected to break all kinds of records in a year that’s seen more than a few flops, it’s a fair guess that women will be a large part of the audience.” Read the full article here.

I’m officially a Star Wars convert solely because of Rey and I hope to see many more characters like this one on the big screen. She’s a wonderful role model for young girls and older girls alike, and she deserves the same amount of fanfare as the rest of the characters in the film. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, get some friends together and make a girl’s night out of it. You will leave feeling like you can save the universe, all by yourself.”

 

47% of Super Bowl Viewers Are Women

February 11, 2016 § 2 Comments

dame-helen-mirren-640673Here’s Dawn Boulanger’s take on how the Super Bowl scored with women.

The Super Bowl 50 match-up between the Broncos and Panthers drew an estimated 111.9 million viewers – the second- highest rated Super Bowl in history. According to Nielsen, 47% of viewers in 2015 were women. If we assume the same viewing patterns this year, 53 million of those watching on Sunday were women – that’s more women than will watch the Oscars, Grammys and Emmys combined!

Women drive the consumer market – they influence the majority of purchases across all categories and they do the majority of social media sharing. Despite their influence, advertisers have historically used the big game to market to men. Past years’ commercial critiques have included the lack of targeting of women and the use of sexist stereotypes to sell products.

There seemed to be some creative change in this year’s Super Bowl spots with advertisers getting smarter about who’s watching, who’s sharing and with an actual attempt at connecting with these powerful female consumers.

Here are a few of the spots that have received positive comments for their representation of women, the use of empowerment in their messaging and their understanding of the target audience.

  1. Budweiser Ad, Simply Put – Budweiser uses Helen Mirren to send a strong warning against drinking and driving.
  1. Mini, Defy Labels – Mini Cooper uses powerful celebrities such as Serena Williams to challenge the use of labels and stereotypes.
  1. Hyundai, Ryanville – with the use of Ryan Reynolds clones and women drivers, Hyundai clearly targeted the female audience.
  1. No More, Domestic Violence PSA – a powerful message to help raise awareness about domestic violence.

Super Bowl 51 is a long way away – maybe by then we will have figured out Mountain Dews’ PuppyMonkeyBaby commercial!

 

Marketing to Women: Gender Lines Are Being Blurred

February 10, 2016 § 1 Comment

UnknownDefinitions of gender are becoming more blurred in today’s society as two-thirds of young adults say their generation is pushing the boundaries of what feminism and masculinity look like.

In the past year, the Oxford Dictionary adopted the gender-neutral prefix Mx. and Seattle embraced gender-neutral public bathrooms, while Pantone singled out gender-neutral colors in its latest color-trend report. Transgender narratives are both in real life (Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox) and onscreen (Transparent, The Danish Girl). Culture has begun to shift away from binary notions of gender.

Jaden Smith, son of Will Smith, is breaking down gender norms by sporting skirts for Louis Vuitton’s Spring womenswear collection. Louis Vuitton’s press release says Jaden “represents a generation that has assimilated the codes of true freedom; wearing a skirt comes as naturally to him as it would to a woman.”

Miley Cyrus has called herself gender fluid. She says “I didn’t want to be a boy. I kind of wanted to be nothing. I don’t relate to what people would say defines a girl or a boy, and I think that’s what I had to understand: Being a girl isn’t what I hate, it’s the box that I get put into.” Eddie Redmayne introduces us anew to the gender identification struggle of artist Einar Wegener in the movie The Danish Girl.

The 2013 Cassandra Gender report found that 60% of people between the ages of 14 and 34 think gender lines are blurred and nearly two-thirds of the group say their generation is pushing the boundaries of what feminism and masculinity look like. The survey reveals that “gender is less of a definer of identity today than it was for prior generations. Rather than adhering to traditional gender roles, young people are interpreting what gender means to them personally.”

A January 2015 poll by media company Fusion found that among Americans aged 18–34, 50% believe gender exists on a spectrum, while just 46%  believe there are only two genders.

What does it mean for marketers? Marketers can choose to acknowledge it and show this generation that they get it in their language and offerings.

Gender neutral, inclusive language has become more correct. People who do not identify as male or female prefer the pronoun “they,” rather than “he” or “she.” Rather than saying congressman, you would refer to a legislator. The “common man” becomes the average person. A policeman is now a police officer.

Unisex is a more prolific offering. Vivienne Westwood created a unisex collection for autumn/winter 2015–2016 as did Alexander Blanc, whose male and female models even swapped clothes on the runway during Cape Town Fashion Week in 2014. Harrods and Target groups toys by theme rather than male or female. Models like Elliott Sailors, Rain Dove, and Erika Linder are carrying out runway careers as menswear models.

Facebook now has 58 different gender descriptions including agender, androgyne, gender fluid, trans female, trans male, trans person, cisgender, and two-spirit . Some brands like Louis Vuitton are embracing transgender and androgynous models for their campaigns.

Even names are becoming less gender specific.  Popular gender-neutral names in 2015 included Carson, Amari, Karter, Sawyer, River, Rory,  and Phoenix.

 

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