‘Fashion Forwards’ Pack a Punch
By Tom Ryan
Although a small part of the buying public, fashion forward customers
drive and influence a large share of sales in apparel as well as other categories,
according to a new study from Acxiom.
Axciom’s Retail Consumer Dynamics study,
based on insights drawn from the BIGresearch CIA and SIMM surveys, broke customers
into three segments: “value driven,” representing half of all shoppers; “conservative/traditional,” 34
percent; and “fashion forward”, 16 percent.
The groups were described:
- Fashion Forward: “Newest trends and styles are important when
shopping for apparel.”
- Conservative/Traditional: “I prefer a traditional conservative
- Value Driven: “Fashion is less important than value and comfort.”
Though it’s the smallest of the three groups, fashion forward women in
particular spend 1.7 times as much on apparel as conservative/traditional women
and 2.7 times as much as value driven women, on average.
forward women account for 32 percent of total women’s
apparel purchases, approximately equal to the same dollar value as either of
the other two groups.
“What they lack in numbers, they make up for in spending power,” said
Jim Harold, vice president for Acxiom’s retail group, in a statement.
findings from the study:
- Fifty-three percent of fashion forwards have household incomes of less
than $50,000 annually. Only 14 percent exceed $100,000.
- Fashion forwards are twice as likely than the other segments to spend more
on apparel in coming months. Similar rates were seen across categories such
as electronics, home furnishings, sporting goods and health and beauty aids.
- Department store (38 percent), was the store fashion forwards most often
shopped for apparel, followed closely by specialty apparel (32 percent).
Discount stores still came in fairly high at 18 percent.
- Fifty-three percent of fashion forward women are “extremely likely
to recommend” friends and colleagues to a preferred store for women’s
apparel. That compares to 39 percent for conservative/traditional and 36
percent for value driven.
- Fashion forwards are predominantly younger, with 33 percent of millennials
fitting the segment. But their presence and influence can be found in all
age groups. Seventeen percent of Gen X ranked as fashion forwards and seven
percent of boomers. Only for seniors, at one percent, was their influence
“This group has what we call a multiplier effect,” Mr. Harold said. “They
spend more and they are the most likely to refer friends and colleagues to their
Not surprisingly, fashion forwards are more demanding
as well. In probing reasons why women buy apparel at their preferred retailer,
newest styles indexed highest, 269; followed by fashion ideas, 247; newest
fabrics, 218, and quality, 129.
In-store experience was also critical for fashion
forwards. Store appearance indexed at 156; store layout, 145; service, 131,
and knowledgeable salespeople, 131. Also indexing particularly high was store
loyalty card, 144; store credit card, 122 and advertising, 127. Price indexed
Discussion Questions: Are stores underestimating the buying power of Fashion
Forwards? What more can they be doing to target this influential group?
- ‘Fashion Forward’ Consumers Drive Apparel and Other Category Spending, Acxiom
Study Finds – Acxiom Corporation/Business Wire/MarketWatch
- Retail Consumer Dynamics Study – Acxiom Corporation