Synchrony Financial has uncovered five retail trends that could have major implications for apparel companies. The company issues credit cards for retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. and has its pulse on where consumers are spending their money.
Synchrony said the number-one trend is content advertising. Brands that focus on the emotion tied to their brand are succeeding. Synchrony found that more than 40 percent of consumers say they like to shop at stores that reflect their values. Synchrony sees this as an opportunity for retailers to attract new customers by reflecting the shopper’s values.
One example of aligning shopper values with the retail brand is REI’s decision last year during the holiday season to close its doors during Black Friday and suggest its patrons go outside. The appeal was cheered not only by their customer base, but also many other consumers who applauded the response to over commercialized holidays. Another example could be a retailer who may want to emphasize that their products are organically sourced in order to appeal to customers for whom this is an important issue.
Ath-leisure is another trend that keeps winning. It got its start with yoga pants and women seem unwilling to go back to putting fashion before comfort. Synchrony’s survey found that 80 percent of its respondents said they had worn ath-leisure clothing in situations other than working out. Sixty-nine percent also said they were wearing ath-leisure instead of jeans at least once a week.
Synchrony believes this is a trend retailers can’t ignore. Apparel brands have to accept the trend and not assume it is going away anytime soon. Tory Burch created a Tory Sport line, while Topshop and Nordstrom have a hit with Beyoncé’s Ivy Park line. Lululemon, realizing its customers may want alternatives to the yoga pant, created the Groove pant and the Street to Studio pant.
The next trend is immediate gratification and it originated with the idea of free shipping. Once customers learned that they could shop around with online retailers in order to find free shipping, they came to expect it. “I want it now,” is the mantra of today’s consumers.
Synchrony said retailers now have to come up with new services beyond free shipping. They have to create new categories of instant gratification like styling services or ramping up to same-day shipping.
Another trend that continues to build is affordable designer fashion. The persistent promotional environment has trained shoppers to not pay full price. However, they still want that designer and familiar label in their closet.
Companies like the TJX Cos., and Ross Stores have tapped into this desire. They know that by providing a small selection of good bargains with an ever-changing inventory keeps customers coming back. Synchrony tells retailers not to assume that an affluent shopper doesn’t care about bargains.
Finally, Synchrony says the trend toward rented or used clothing is building. Their survey showed that 24 percent of U.S. consumers have rented clothes and 34 percent find the idea appealing. Rent the Runway was the first retailer to enter the field, but more online brands are coming out with different takes on the concept.
Many resale brands are popping up like ThredUp.com, Tradesy and the retail chain Scout & Molly’s that only work with resold clothing. Synchrony also points out that Wall Street likes this model, too, with venture capital funds flowing their way. Poshmark has raised $25 million, The RealReal has picked up $40 million and ThredUp has raised $131 million. Synchrony suggests that forward-looking retailers might want to consider a sharing component as part of their outreach to customers.
Finally, Synchrony tells retailers to go mobile because 40 percent of shoppers have used a mobile wallet and more are moving toward these types of purchases. The company said, “New developments in the payment space are causing retailers to think about how to best create a seamless experience for consumers.”