Who says Europeans are more happy in adapting a work-to-live attitude than their American counterparts, known as a group who mostly lives to work? Certainly not a new Harris Poll that finds Americans “much more happy” with their lives and “much more optimistic” about their future than Europeans. This is clearly good news for U.S.-based marketers, noted Humphrey Taylor, chairman at the Harris Poll. “High expectations have a high correlation with strong consumer confidence and tend to increase purchasing activity,” Taylor said. “When expectations are low, it’s harder to market new fashion, let alone sell more things.”
More than twice as many Americans, or 57 percent, say they are “very satisfied” with their lives, compared with an average of 21 percent of Europeans. Forty-nine percent of Americans think their lives have improved in the past five years, versus an average of 36 percent of Europeans. And 63 percent of people in the U.S. expect their personal situation will improve in the next five years, against 40 percent in Europe, on average.
Only one country in Europe exceeded the U.S. in life satisfaction, Denmark, with 64 percent of Danes saying so. Europe’s next most satisfied were those in The Netherlands (45 percent) and Luxembourg (39 percent). Euro-satisfaction levels were at low tide in Portugal (6 percent), Greece (11 percent) and France (14 percent).
SIZE DOESN’T MATTER: Quality rather than quantity creates the best word of mouth, author-journalist Malcolm Gladwell told a group of marketing executives and journalists who gathered last Thursday for a panel discussion he led, sponsored by Lucky magazine, about what causes trends and ideas to spread like wildfire. Drawing on his days as a Washington Post science writer, Gladwell, now a staff writer at The New Yorker, noted it takes just 1 to 2 percent of a group to turn a disease into an epidemic — and an equally small share of mavens, or people equipped with a passion for knowledge and a desire to share it, to explode a trend. “These people are not necessarily the best educated or wealthiest, but they do have a special social power,” Gladwell observed.Too, cultural leverage doesn’t necessarily equate with big numbers, agreed panelists Dee Dee Gordon, president of trend forecaster Look Look; Ron Frasch, chairman and chief executive officer at Bergdorf Goodman; Richard Pleplar, executive vice president at HBO, and Nina Garduno, vice president of men’s fashion at Fred Segal. “There’s such a push to make everything mainstream, it snuffs the little guys out,” Garduno said. “How many great specialty stores are there in the world? Ten. How many great TV shows? There’s always just a handful.”
And it still takes some patience, amid America’s hyperkinetic marketing whirl, to allow a trend or concept to take off. “Word of mouth often takes time to build,” Gladwell emphasized. “Think of TV — the most successful shows typically take time to catch on. Seinfeld, for one, had a horrible first season.”
DENIM SKIRTS THE BLUES: Eluding the protracted slump in sales of women’s sportswear, dollar-volume produced by purchases of women’s jeans, in the first quarter, surged 22 percent, to tally $1.47 billion, up from $1.21 billion in the prior-year period, found STS Market Research. A handful of stores fueled that jeans business: Gap, Old Navy, Kohl’s, Target and Wal-Mart. Firm prices helped, too, with jeans going for $22.26 on average versus $22.33 a year ago, while the average price of a sportswear item fell 4 percent to $18.98 from $19.77. The first-quarter jeans volume marks a 28 percentage-point upswing from the 6 percent drop in overall sales of women’s sportswear during the period, which came to $8.46 billion, versus $8.99 billion a year earlier.
Separately, STS is now offering data on shoppers’ sportswear consumption behavior at specific chains, extending the boundaries of consumer research from the retail channel to the store level. For example, people’s responses to changes in product assortments, pricing and displays have been culled by canvassing shoppers at Wal-Mart Stores, J.C. Penney, Target, Kohl’s, Gap, Sears, Kmart, TJX, Limited Brands, Federated Department Stores and May Department Stores Co. units. The number of men and women, ages 13 and older, surveyed ranges from 700 at Federated up to 2,500 at Wal-Mart. “For years, consumer research was done by channel,” noted Mike Hand, a partner and senior vice president of business development at Cambridge, Mass.-based STS. “The broader distribution of brand-name goods and the resulting spread of cross-shopping have made it necessary to consider consumer behavior at the store level.”VIRTUAL APPEAL: Is apparel’s cyber-shot in the arm on the horizon, or is it simply a virtual mirage? During the first quarter, Internet surfers in 11 of 13 countries increasingly scrapped low-speed modems in favor of high-speed Internet access in at-home computers, Nielsen/NetRatings found. Fashion images with the sharper resolution and more precise colors conveyed by broadband have long been expected to boost sales of apparel online. Although it’s been among a handful of e-commerce bestsellers for several years, apparel still realizes just a small portion of its overall business the e-way.
Prospects look brightest in Hong Kong, where 65 percent had high-speed hookups in the first quarter, compared with the 16 percent with low-speed connections. Also promising were Brazil and Sweden, where surfers were switching to broadband at the fastest rate, among those polled: 16 percent in each did so between January and March. Italy and Germany were the only countries canvassed where the number of broadband users didn’t grow. N/NR surveyed Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the U.K.
In the U.S., which was not included in the N/NR first-quarter study, 36 percent of at-home ’Net users had high-speed access in April, or 39 million people, up 55 percent from 25.2 million, or a 24 percent share, a year earlier.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews