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NPD Study Reveals Gender Split on Value, Fit

Men and women view purchases of apparel brands through different lenses.

Men and women use many of the same criteria in their evaluation of apparel brands, but differ sharply on their views of fit, value and affordability.

This story first appeared in the July 7, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

In The NPD Group Inc.’s 2011 Brand Landscape Report, both men and women ranked “is a brand I’ve had success with” as their top reason for purchasing apparel bearing a particular label. “Has the features and benefits you want” was second for females and third for males, while those rankings were reversed for “is your style.”

Females ranked “offers real solutions for you” as the fourth most important factor in their apparel brand purchase decisions, while males placed it fifth, and both genders designated “is comfortable” as their sixth top priority.

But there the similarities ended among the 70,000 consumers included in NPD’s online consumer panel, with women placing greater weight on fit and men seeking value.

“Fits well” qualified as number five on the females’ list but just qualified for the top 10 among males. Men placed “offers good value for the money” fourth in their rankings, but it placed eighth among the women, while “is affordable” was seventh for the men and 10th for the women.

Women made “has a lot of sales or special deals” number seven on their list, just one notch higher than their male counterparts. Females cited “is a brand friends wear” as number nine, while it didn’t qualify for the men’s top rankings, and men gave the same slot to “is a brand you can trust,” a criterion that failed to make the women’s list.

Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for NPD, pointed out that consumers rarely show enthusiasm for brand extensions in the study, rejecting the notion that a brand’s integrity can be transferred from category to category, and also tend to reject the value of celebrity tie-ins and endorsements.

“Consumers don’t admit that they’re easily influenced,” he said. “If you ask, ‘Did you buy that Ford Edge because you saw Derek Jeter driving one in a commercial?’ only about 5 percent of consumers will say yes. But if you look at it scientifically, the number is more like 27 percent.”

He does see increasingly savvy consumers taking advantage of the technology available to them: “They’re determined not to buy on impulse like they used to. They know what stores and sites have what products and at what prices. They have more information at their fingertips and, unlike a few years ago, now they’re using it.”

In addition to apparel, NPD, based in Port Washington, N.Y., researched brand traits in footwear, toys and consumer electronics.