A new trend report reveals ways fashion brands can connect more effectively with their affluent fashion customers
No longer is high quality and good value for the price what it takes to be a top fashion brand, according to a new survey among 1,245 affluent fashion customers. Today the most important measure of excellence in a fashion brand is that it be a good investment.
"This gives the phrase 'investment dressing' a whole new meaning," says Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing and lead researcher in the new fashion brand study. "The concept of investment implies that the purchaser gets a return on what they spend. Luxury consumers expect their fashion brands to deliver a return on their investment in the form of timelessness, sophistication, and distinction, according to the survey results."
Unity Marketing has just released a new trend report entitled "The Luxury Fashion Consumer & their Favorite Fashion Brands" that examines fashion shopping behavior and the top fashion brands among luxury consumers. The survey also included questions about fashion shopping and purchases in the past year.
Each fashion customer was asked to rate their favorite brand out of the 11 most widely purchased fashion brands among all affluents in Unity Marketing's 2009 luxury tracking surveys.
The fashion brands included in the study were:
- Ann Taylor
- Anne Klein
- Brooks Brothers
- Calvin Klein
- Liz Claiborne
- Michael Kors
- Ralph Lauren
Danziger explains, "We took a totally new look at the fashion brand preferences of highly affluent shoppers (avg. income $331,500). Of note, this wasn't a survey of luxury fashion brands, but of the fashion brands that are most often purchased by affluent fashion customers
"We asked each fashion shopper who bought and were loyal to one of these brands to rate them according to 17 measures of brand connection and 38 core brand values. The findings give fashion brands a totally new yardstick to measure success based upon the preferences of brand loyalists. For example, investment is more important than price/value in a fashion brand. Honesty and integrity is more important than high quality and being able to astonish and surprise their customers is more important than that the brand allows them to express their personality."
Danziger notes there are quite a few surprises revealed in the new study, such as:
- Talbots tops the list of most well connected fashion brands -- Talbots' brand loyalists rate their brand tops in connecting with the consumer. It rates highest of all brands in investment and being better than the competition. It also gets top marks in honesty and integrity. "Obviously Talbots is doing a whole lot of things right when it comes to serving their core customer. Among the brand values that Talbots delivers are timeless fashion, credibility, high quality, sophistication and trustworthiness. Other brands can learn a lesson from Talbots' ability to connect," notes Danziger.
- Armani is rated a very close second -- Armani rates first as the most luxurious brand among its affluent fashion consumers brand loyalists. It also gets high ratings as a brand that other people believe is strong and appealing. Armani is among the coolest brands according to the survey and one that is distinctive and first class. "Armani didn't rate as highly as other brands on investment, but makes up by being high in artistic dimension, being true to its values and paying attention to its clients," Danziger says.
- Coach is the third most highly rated fashion brand -- Coach tops the list as a fashion brand that pays attention to its clients and understands their needs. Coach is valued by its affluent customers for being well-known, high quality, recognizable and visible. Coach is a brand that gives its customers confidence in always being in fashion and one that is different from other brands.
In conclusion, Danziger says, "We limited this study to the top 11 most purchased fashion brands among luxury affluent fashion customers throughout 2009. The findings are a wake-up call to fashion marketers about the new post-recession realities of the luxury consumer market. With a few exceptions, the most purchased fashion brands among these highly affluent consumers are not considered 'true luxury,' but 'accessible luxury' or even premium mass brands. The reality of the fashion market is that very respectable, though not true 'luxury' brands like Talbots, Liz Claiborne and Ann Taylor are delivering an investment in fashion that is most highly regarded by affluent customers loyal to these brands."
About The Luxury Fashion Consumer & their Favorite Fashion Brands Trend Report
This trend report reflects a survey among 1,245 affluent luxury consumers (avg. income $331,500; age 45.6 years; 42 percent male/58 percent female), conducted in association with Unity Marketing's Luxury Tracking Survey 1Q2010 fielded April 6-10, 2010.
Each respondent was asked about how much they spent on fashion, including women's and men's clothing and women's and men's fashion accessories.
They were asked to rate 13 different fashion shopping destinations for fashion items as to whether each is a 'go-to' source and the first place they shop for fashion; only appropriate occasionally for fashion shopping; or a place where they rarely or never shop for fashion.
Three different types of fashion shoppers were profiled depending upon their patterns of shopping:
- A shopper always on the lookout for new fashion items
- A shopper that shops for fashion when the seasons change, then pick up other items on impulse or as needed
- A shopper who only shops for fashion when they have to. In another surprise finding, the 'as the seasons change' shopper spends 31 percent more than the shopper who is always on the lookout for new fashion.
Fashion shoppers were asked about whether they were more likely to buy the designer/luxury/high-end brand or a more accessible/affordable brands when shopping for 9 different men's and 10 women's fashion itmes. In only one women's fashion item in the survey (leather handbag) and one men's item (dress shirt) did a majority of these affluent fashion customers say they were likely pay more to purchase the luxury brand.
Finally the report includes detail rankings of 11 fashion brands by how strongly they connect with their core customers and which of the 38 brand attributes and values best reflect their feelings about the brand.
For media: Danziger available for interviews. Charts, tables and graphs detailing major findings in the report also are available. About Pam Danziger and Unity Marketing