By  on February 20, 2008

In a time when value and convenience have lured growing numbers of shoppers, it's the fundamental appeal of fashion goods themselves that is most likely to inspire repeat visits to particular stores, said the apparel consumers among the 26,000 adults polled in a new customer loyalty survey by marketing consultant Brand Keys. People in search of apparel rated the nature of the experience they have while shopping as the second-biggest reason they're inclined to return to a store — and all the more so as the merchandise on offer in different venues grows ever more alike, according to Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys. Those experiences may become more important than the goods themselves before long, he projected in disclosing the 2008 survey's findings to WWD.

The 411: Shopper buzz about Victoria's Secret that's 20 percent higher than it is for the average apparel store also sparked return shopping trips to the retailer, while the spread of the Macy's name — one that consumers said they trust — appeared to add to the store's allure. Wal-Mart customers were drawn back by the offer of more kinds of electronics and store brands.

The unexpected: There was a fourfold increase in the number of brands in loyalty ratings ties (56), spread across the 57 categories consumers were asked about, compared with 2007. "That's not a harbinger of good news for brands," Passikoff said. "It means a lot of them will become [indistinguishable]."

The year ahead: "Marketers have to understand how to reach customers better," advised Passikoff. "The same old mix of traditional and new media will not be enough. A lot of ad imagery has run pretty hollow and borrowed equity from celebrities has declined, for the most part." ­

Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Marketers With Customers Voicing Most Loyalty

Apparel store: Victoria's Secret
Department store: Macy's
Discount store: Wal-Mart
Apparel catalogue: L.L. Bean
Athletic footwear: Air Jordan & New Balance (tie)
Luxury cosmetics: Estée Lauder
Mass cosmetics: Maybelline
Bottled water: Aquafina & Fiji (tie)
Cell phones: SamsungSource: 2008 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index

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