By  on June 26, 2012

Well-known brand names continue to make inroads with consumers when they’re deciding how to spend their money.

In a new survey from Brand Keys, 29 percent of shoppers cite brand names as important to their purchasing decision — a number that has tripled in importance over the past four years. Five years ago, only 8 percent of U.S. apparel buyers felt brands and logos were important.

For the 7,500 men and women who participated in the survey, 39 percent chose Ralph Lauren/Polo as their favorite brand, followed by their favorite sports team at 36 percent, Armani at 34 percent, Nike at 30 percent, and Versace and Chanel tied at 27 percent.

“No matter the category, we see one trend growing — the increasing importance of fashion brands. While it’s true that consumers are not spending recklessly, that very reality is what drives them into the arms of true brands,” said Amy Shea, executive vice president of global brand development for Brand Keys, a brand and customer loyalty research consultancy.

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The other brands in the top 10 were Calvin Klein, J. Crew, Levi’s, Banana Republic, Burberry and Dior and Yves Saint Laurent, which tied for 10th.

There were gender differentiations in the results, however. Among men, 43 percent chose their favorite sports team as their top choice, followed by Nike (38 percent), Ralph Lauren/Polo (36 percent), Armani (32 percent), Tommy Hilfiger (30 percent), Calvin Klein (29 percent), Abercromie & Fitch (28 percent), Lacoste (21 percent) and Brooks Brothers and Banana Republic, tied with 23 percent. Uniqlo made the list for the first time, ranking 12th among male fashion buyers.

Among women, Ralph Lauren topped the list with 41 percent, followed by a favorite sports team (38 percent), Chanel (36 percent), Armani (35 percent), Versace (33 percent), Dior (31 percent), J. Crew (29 percent) and Donna Karan and YSL tied with 25 percent and Burberry and Calvin Klein tied for 10th with 23 percent.

“The rising importance of fashion brands generally, and these fashion brands specifically, indicates that value — or the perception of value via brand — is of much greater import to consumers and, ultimately, to the success of fashion brands,” Shea said. “It’s not surprising that consumers are looking to brands to make a difference, to meet their expectations, and to delight. In the context of fashion brands, value isn’t just what consumers’ dollars buy, it’s how fashion fits consumers’ lifestyle, self-perception, and expectations. This is especially true in a retail marketplace overflowing in excess of similar products, congruous distribution and bargain-basement pricing.”

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