Satisfying customers has always been key to retail success, but today – thanks to the Internet, social media and low prices– those customers are more demanding, more impatient, and more spoilt for choice than ever before.
We live in an age of instant gratification: online orders are delivered within hours and social media can keep friends in contact 24x7. News, which once took days to spread around the globe, is available to all in near real time while the latest fashion trends can be shared among aficionados within minutes of appearing on the catwalk. Key influencers are also changing. Instead of magazines and movies, millennials are more likely to be influenced by vloggers, social media “likes” and the celebrities they follow: our research suggests that 52% of 18-24s in the UK obtain their fashion inspiration from social media. According to one Dutch fashion clothing CEO ”[see now buy now] is relevant … in particular for younger target groups, the war is fought out on Instagram”. Shopping is also seen as a social activity and those same millennials – who can afford lower priced products – may be buying fashion items most weeks and spending their leisure time touring the high street with friends spotting the latest trends.
It is no longer enough to add new fashion items when the seasons change, shoppers expect to see the catwalk styles for sale on their local high street within days, and what the celebrity wears today, the fashion follower wants tomorrow. And not only to wear, but to pose for a selfie dressed in the latest style to add to their Facebook page – and that gives rise to another change: constant newness.
As the CEO of a UK value fashion chain said: “Our customers are buying a dress, buying a blouse, buying a top, posting a picture of themselves wearing it on a Saturday night out, and they will not be posting a picture of themselves wearing that the week after.” So, we enter a world of disposable fashion which must be on-trend, eye-catching and may only ever be worn half a dozen times. It means that price is often the key factor guiding purchasing choice, especially among younger shoppers.
It is a world of “see now buy now wear now” and our extensive research into this market has identified six key areas that retailers need to address if they are to succeed in this changing world of fast fashion.
These areas are explored more fully in our report, which can be downloaded opposite.