Despite the explosive growth of fashion bloggers and brands’ efforts to turn shoppers into buyers with social media, a study from LIM College on Millennials suggests that companies should try a different approach.
In a survey of 665 Millennials, aged 18 to 35, conducted by LIM College professors Robert Conrad, MBA, and Kenneth M. Kambara, Ph.D., “less than 7 percent of those surveyed reported that they are influenced by the opinions of bloggers and vloggers in deciding what apparel and accessories to buy, and more than 62 percent consider the uniqueness, or ‘newness’ of the products offered as the most compelling reason to make a fashion purchase.”
The study, “Shopping Trends Among 18-35 Year-Olds,” also revealed the role of authenticity with this demographic. “Our study is very revealing about what these Millennials’ purchase drivers are and how the fashion industry is executing on them,” Conrad said. “Each views her or himself as a ‘market of one’ and wants to have something exclusive and not readily available to others. They want to put their look together in their own original, authentic way.”
The role of a brand is also seen as taking a backseat in the purchasing decision process.
“To Millennials, the uniqueness of the product is more important than the brand attached to it, or what ‘influencers’ might say about it,” Conrad noted. “As soon as a fashion item is seen as popular, mainstream and easily accessible, Millennials will immediately abandon it. Unlike their parents at the same age, there are no ‘uniforms.’”
“In our study, brand name ranked lowest in determining value,” Kambara said. “Millennial consumers don’t want to see the sweater they just purchased on 10 other people.” Kambara also noted that the fashion industry “is approaching Millennials with old habits that won’t work.”
“Fashion brands are offering much of the same products and too much of them,” Kambara said. “Then they use advertising and ‘influencers,’ — social media and paid bloggers and vloggers — to tell these increasingly discriminating Millennials to buy what they are pushing. To capture Millennials’ fashion purchases, fashion brands must focus on the uniqueness of the products they offer. Not only must the offerings be new and different, there should not be a lot of them available. This is what Zara does so well.”
Kambara went on to say that “while customer satisfaction, perceived price-value ratio and the overall shopping experience drive choice, for Millennials the fundamental differentiating factor is product uniqueness and innovation.” And in regard to loyalty, online retailers have an edge. The survey showed that 45 percent of respondents said they “strongly agree” that online retailers “encourage loyalty through frequent product introductions, whereas this figure dropped to 30 percent for department and specialty stores,” the researchers said.
“The fact is, stores are closing,” Conrad said. “This helps explain why. Because Millennials’ attention spans are much shorter, stores need to change product assortments more quickly. E-commerce allows for this, but brick-and-mortar can’t do it quickly enough.”