By  on May 1, 2012

Customer service is the name of the game in magazines and denim. While People StyleWatch editor Susan Kaufman can remember the Landlubber and Fiorucci jeans she owned earlier in her life, she said her target reader was the Millennial, and she came armed with statistics to provide insight into their shopping habits.

“I think of what we do as customer service, because we are essentially a shopping magazine,” said Kaufman, who has been editor in chief of the title since it launched in January 2007.

Kaufman said one poll respondent said the magazine helped her have fun while becoming a smarter shopper. “That helped define the brand, because a lot of women are intimidated by shopping, especially when it comes to jeans, because fit is so important,” she said.

Out of respect for her readers, Kaufman always considers price points, style and diversity when featuring denim. She used an April trend story covering 44 brands as an example.

“It’s important for brands to think about who your customer is and what kind of quality you are giving them for the money. If you have Web sites and stores, the more information you can give to your customer and the more ways you can tell them how to wear it, the more they are going to buy,” she said.

The magazine’s first denim awards issue in November featured 185 brands, with 700 try-ons. There were 35 winning brands in 25 categories.

Next year’s issue will be even more focused on body type and feature more price options, trends and styles. Fifty-five percent of the readers polled read blogs, so reaching out to bloggers is key for brands, but they said they look to fashion magazines more than blogs for validating a trend. They also said, “If an item doesn’t go with at least three things I own, I’m not buying it,” which speaks to the need for versatility.

People StyleWatch’s third-ranking fashion story of the year was one that showed the different ways celebrities wear the same jeans. Not surprisingly, 94 percent of those polled like celebrity coverage, and 52 percent said celebrities influence their choices, although it wasn’t the level of the celebrity as much as how much they resembled the reader that appeared to be paramount, suggesting that jeans brands need to approach the consumer with more diversity in their messaging.

Discounts and limited editions remain powerful ways to drive sales. Brands that appear on the magazine’s 20-percent-off page can realize additional retail sales ranging from $200,000 to $1 million following publication.

Kaufman also advised brands to keep the message clear and simple. “There is so much out there,” she said, “anything that you can do to make it simple and distinguished will help consumers.”

According to the magazine’s research, 48 percent of Millennial readers polled shop for jeans at least once a month and 76 percent said fit is the most important factor in their purchase decisions and brand name the least important. The Web sites of Nordstrom, Gap and Old Navy received the best grades for customer service.

And the top word used to describe how women felt in their jeans was “sexy.”

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