High street fashion retailers ignore £9bn opportunity from shoppers’ research habits, Pragma reports

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Research by Pragma Consulting, uncovering the shopping habits of women across the UK, has revealed retailers are missing out on an annual spend worth £9bn through not engaging with shoppers who are increasingly researching fashion choices before purchasing.

Pragma surveyed 2,000 female shoppers and found online and mobile sources are increasingly important during the research phase of the shopping journey, with 30% of shoppers actively receptive to personalised email marketing. 26% of customers use Google Shopping to research a purchase intention, but physical stores remain the most important source of inspiration for female shoppers. Interestingly, 68% of shoppers use click and collect services – highlighting the importance of combining bricks and clicks.

With new and emerging technologies disrupting the fashion market, retailers have focussed their attention on developing multi-channel propositions that reflect how shoppers today use mobiles and the internet. However, Pragma’s research shows that to leverage the £9bn opportunity with the market, retailers need to re-evaluate their marketing content to focus on product attributes over the brand image.

In addition, Pragma segmented the UK market into six key fashion segments, of which the largest opportunity comes from the segment that are on average 41 years old, spend £780 a year and typically shop at Marks & Spencer’s. In particular for this segment, Pragma found impulse buying is down, with 42% of shoppers researching the style, size and price of clothes before purchasing online or in-store. Furthermore, of these purchases, 67% are driven by product attributes rather than brand image. This means brands that are not communicating with shoppers at the point of research with product-focused content are currently missing out on this huge section of the market.

Stores continue to remain relevant for this segment (53% spend in-store), with customers prioritising product as their key purchase driver, and sizing and fit topping the list (91%). When it comes to navigating, our qualitative research found that the in-store experience needs to excite this customer with a take on current fashion trends, and not overwhelm them with too much choice on the racks.

“For brands looking to tap into this underserved market, they must go back to basics to engage with this fashion consumer. Brands must have a point of view on the latest fashion trends, and translate this through a high-quality, well-fitted product, and present it in curated collections in clearly laid out outfits to educate and guide these customers to purchase,” said Rosie Hartman, consultant at Pragma Consulting.

“The findings reveal the huge opportunity for brands currently trying to serve the largest segment of the female fashion market, who are frequently changing their path to purchase by browsing mobile applications, social media and being more open to in-bound marketing if the content adds value. With the Christmas results currently being reported by brands such as M&S and Next, our research highlights the ways in which they must find new ways to engage their target shopper, with a focus on the attributes of the product over the brand.”