Jim Shea

The sales growth of the men’s wear market is outpacing women’s, and brands and retailers have a chance to better capitalize on it — as long as they’re using the right data and technology, said Jim Shea, chief commercial officer at First Insight Inc.

“The men’s wear market is outpacing women’s in growth, and that will continue for the next several years,” Shea told attendees, adding that while the total volume of women’s is far larger, the acceleration in men’s wear sales is an opportunity not to be missed.

But how can brands and retailers leverage that growth? For his part, Shea said using data is a good start, but how consumers behaved in the past doesn’t guarantee what they’ll buy in the future. Which is why predictive and “voice of the customer” analytics can play an important role. Shea said keying into what consumers want can enhance customer-centric merchandising strategies by increasing sales and margins.

To drive home the importance of gauging consumer behavior and preferences, Shea shared results from a First Insight “retail disruption” analysis and survey. The report reiterated the importance of knowing how men and women shop — the similarities as well as the differences.

Shea said men are making more purchases online this year as compared to women, and are on par with female shoppers. Forty-one percent of men are buying online, which is up three points from the prior survey. This compares to 40 percent of women, which is down six percentage points.

“And men are shopping online more frequently,” Shea said, adding that 53 percent of respondents shop on Amazon six or more times per month versus 45 percent of women. The research also revealed that men are also increasingly turning to mobile devices to shop.

Other findings include a larger number of men using “smart speakers.” The poll showed that 59 percent of consumers, overall, are using smart speakers to research prices. By gender, 70 percent of men use the devices to research prices while 46 percent of women do the same. Subsequently, there’s an increase in pricing pressure on men’s wear, according to data from First Insight and Cowen.

Shea said this is why “voice of the customer” analytics is critical — especially when coupled with predictive analytics. He cited case studies from retailers and brands such as Vineyard Vines, Saxx and Under Armour that have used the tactics to deliver “the right product, at the right price and in the right quantity” to bolster sales and margins.


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