For the Millennial consumer, buying a handbag is more like buying a car that an article of clothing, according to a new study from the NPD Group.
The report found that the Millennial consumer treats a handbag purchase as a multistep process, and 41 percent surveyed said they started thinking about their most recent handbag purchase more than a month in advance. The study was conducted by NPD, in partnership with Stylitics, a fashion technology and insights company. The study examines the closets and mind-set of Millennial women to better understand their needs, aspirations, inspirations and the triggers that make them purchase.
Women 18 and older spent a total of $11.5 billion on handbags in the U.S. last year. Handbag expenditures increased 5 percent compared to 2014, powered by Baby Boomers with greater discretionary incomes. Sales among Millennials age 18-34 increased only 2 percent, led by a double-digit increase in spending by older members of the generation.
“The Millennial customer is shopping for handbags very differently than other generations,” said Rohan Deuskar, chief executive officer and founder of Stylitics. “For example, this customer starts with specific product attributes, not brand, when looking for her next handbag, and invests more time and research in her purchase than brands and retailers realize. These findings have been eye-opening for handbag sellers, and are having an immediate impact on their marketing, merchandising and product development strategies.”
So what is the Millennial searching for? The study found that the Millennial consumer is focused on the details, quality and uniqueness of the handbag, rather than the brand itself, across most price points and styles. A consequence of this is that the customer is more open to trying emerging or lesser-known brands, which has implications for both established brands and those to the new category.
“With the complex nature of the Millennial handbag purchase journey, combined with the diverse needs of selling the same handbags across a variety of generations, it becomes even more critical to ensure those selling your handbags know all the right reasons behind each generation’s choices,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD. “The handbag has become a signature item, and retailers need to take advantage.”