The retail outlook for the year ahead is bright, with the National Retail Federation predicting growth of up to 4.4 percent for a total of more than $3.3 trillion in sales. For apparel brands, all eyes are on Amazon. With its two-day shipping, easy checkout and returns, and enormous catalog of brands, the e-commerce giant has undeniably rewritten the playbook for retail. So how can apparel brands win their share of sales?
To better understand the evolving consumer behaviors that are driving growth for apparel sales, retail-focused digital marketing agency CPC Strategy surveyed 2,000 consumers about their shopping habits. The 2019 U.S. Forecast on Apparel Shopping Trends uncovers some surprising trends that should inform every retail brand’s advertising strategy—including a breakdown of how different age groups shop, how shoppers will browse and buy across devices, and what features influence their purchase decisions.
“Our study shows that 63 percent of Gen Z and 57% of Millennial shoppers are already purchasing apparel from Amazon, with Gen Z also showing a strong affinity for buying clothing directly from brand websites,” said Nii Ahene, COO and cofounder of CPC Strategy, in a news release. “Although Amazon may be the apparel website of choice for younger shoppers, most age groups are browsing and buying clothing across multiple shopping channels, which speaks to the need for brands and retailers to invest in a strategic multi-channel strategy to engage with apparel shoppers across multiple touchpoints.”
Shopping channels do matter when it comes to apparel, especially when looking at different age groups
With a collective purchasing power of more than $200 billion as measured by Millennial Marketing and Nielsen, Generation Z and Millennials will drive e-commerce apparel growth, and cite features like free and fast shipping, low prices, and convenience as the most important features when buying apparel online.
Commissioned by CPC Strategy and conducted by Survata, the survey asked 2,000 online respondents ages 18-65 a series of questions, including how often they shop for clothes online, what items they’ve purchased in the past six months, which devices they prefer to use, and what category they’re most likely to consider for off-brand/generic apparel.
Other key findings of the report:
- Casual wear is a top category. 59.2% of shoppers are buying casual wear online, a number that jumps to 70% when looking at Generation Z only.
- Mobile is catching up to desktop with young shoppers. 63% of shoppers are still using desktop for apparel shopping, however, 42% of these same consumers also use mobile—a number bolstered by Gen Z and Millennial shoppers.
- Shoppers are willing to explore private label basics. 47.4% of shoppers said they would consider purchasing off-brand casual apparel over a name brand. These shoppers are also more open to trying unfamiliar brands that sell active and outerwear.
- Free shipping rated top feature for apparel websites. 53.9% value free shipping more than any other feature when it comes to making apparel purchases online—far more than customer reviews, easy returns, and the ability to filter items.
What can brands learn from this research?
To succeed in 2019, brands must build visibility across multiple channels. That could mean improving the functionality and features of an e-commerce website on desktop and mobile, investing in premium content if that brand is selling on Amazon, and implementing a paid media strategy to scale traffic to each.