NEW YORK — If the brand fits, they’ll remember it.

That’s one of the findings in a new study done by Kurt Salmon Associates, a consumer products consulting firm, and the NPD Group, a market research firm in the apparel, textile and retail industries.

According to the study, consumers were more likely to remember makers of jeans, underwear and activewear — rather than other categories — since fit is important. Fruit of the Loom is the most widely recognized brand, and Levi Strauss & Co. is the leader in terms of loyal customers, it concluded.

In customer awareness, the survey ranked Wrangler second, followed by Calvin Klein, Hanes and Reebok, respectively. In customer loyalty, London Fog finished second, followed by Hanes Her Way, Hanes and Reebok, respectively.

According to the study, some of the top performers, such as Levi Strauss & Co., London Fog and Calvin Klein, maintained their rankings from 1992, the last time the survey was conducted. Wrangler’s awareness ranking jumped from fifth to second, and Hanes’s awareness ranking dropped from first to fourth.

The consulting firms mailed questionnaires to 2,800 consumers nationwide, and 2,000 responded. The report measured awareness, quality and loyalty ratings of 180 women’s and 90 men’s brands and private labels. The survey listed most of the brands that were listed in the 1992 study, as well as other brands that were con
sidered widely recognized by a six-person team from Kurt Salmon and NPD.

“Awareness alone won’t build profit,” said Peter Harding, vice president of Kurt Salmon. “We found the brands with high customer loyalty ratings and high awareness ratings were the ones that built the most profits.” According to the survey, more than 80 percent of the consumers polled rely on brands when shopping for undergarments. But Harding noted that the loyalty factor was in the 30 percent range for swimwear, sweaters and other seasonal clothing. “It’s much easier to build brand loyalty where fit or frequency of purchase are primary factors,” he said. Harding was surprised by Donna Karan’s improved performance in the survey. “One thing that struck me [about the survey] was what a great job Donna Karan has done in raising her awareness,” he said. “Donna Karan had the second largest increase in an awareness rating and DKNY had the largest increase in its quality rating.”

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