PLAYING FAVORITES
WOMEN PLACE A PREMIUM ON ASSORTMENT AND PRICE, BUT FOR CERTAIN GROUPS, LOCATION MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE.

Byline: DEBRA GRILL

NEW YORK--How do women judge stores? First, by the assortments. Respondents in the WWD survey most often said they want stores to display a broad variety of merchandise and goods that suit their tastes. Their favorite stores are the ones that fill the order. This is true regardless of age, income or lifestyle.
After the assortments, women examine the prices. Their favorite stores are the ones with great variety as well as fair prices.
As income levels rise, price becomes a less important issue. Women in households with incomes over $70,000 cited location as being more important than prices. For the more affluent, prices are equal in importance to having quality brands.
The data on age suggests that younger shoppers are more price sensitive than older shoppers. Individuals under age 40 ranked price as the second most important reason to shop a store. Those from 40 to 49 ranked price fourth, after assortments, location and brands.
Those from 50 to 64 ranked price third after assortments and location. This suggests that as a person ages, convenience factors such as location, become more important. Price may also be less important to older groups, since they generally have more disposable income compared with younger groups.
To empty nesters, location is the second most important criteria in judging a store. Brand selection ranks third; price ranks fourth.
Single working women and women who are married with families consider prices the second most important factor.
Overall, location was the third most often mentioned reason in determining a favorite store.
Brands were the fourth most mentioned factor by the overall group, and most important to those in the highest income group surveyed--$70,000 and over. In this group, brands ranked third.
In the lowest income group surveyed--$25,000 to $34,900--brands ranked fifth in importance.
Most age groups rated brands as the fourth reason to shop a store, behind broad assortments, prices and location. However, those 40 to 49 years old said it was more important than location.
Generally, sales and discounts were mentioned as the fifth or sixth most important reason to shop a store, though lower income women said it was the third most important reason.
By lifestyle, working women ranked sales/discounts in fifth or sixth place, while empty nesters ranked it seventh.
Sales and discounts were given a higher priority by the three youngest age segments (18-49), which ranked this element fifth, compared with the oldest group (50-64), which ranked it seventh.
Service, referring to the friendliness and/or professionalism of the salespeople, and other amenities, such as coffee, was most important to the highest income group ($70,000 and over). They ranked service fifth, compared with the lowest income group, who ranked it seventh.
Service was most important to older shoppers, empty nesters and women from traditional families.

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