Having read an interesting report from Accenture – See Now Buy Now – has aroused my curiosity about this very current topic in the fashion industry. This has motivated me not only to analyze the subject in this article, but we will do so in the following posts.
According to the research, satisfying customers desire has always been the key to retail success, but today – thanks to internet connection, social networks and low prices – these customers are more impatient, more demanding and have more choice than ever before. It is the new digital client, which we have analyzed in depth in this previous article: The digital client and the new fashion cycle.
Fashion speeds up.
We are immersed in an era of instant gratification: online orders are delivered in a few hours and social networks keep friends in touch 24 hours a day. The news, which used to take several days to get from one end of the globe to the other, is now available in real time to everyone, while the latest fashion trends are shared among consumers within minutes of their appearance at the fashion show. People with influence – influencers – are also changing. Instead of the typical magazine and movie advertising, millennials are more likely to be influenced by bloggers, social network “likes” and celebrities they follow.
The report suggests that 52% of young consumers aged 18 to 24 in the UK, use social networks for information and inspiration about fashion items. According to the director of a Dutch clothing brand, “see now – buy now” is very important, particularly for younger groups and this battle is being fought on Instagram. Shopping is also, for these young consumers, a social activity and millennials can purchase fashion items most weeks of the year and spend much of their free time with friends touring the major commercial arteries to identify fashion trends.
For retail, it is no longer enough to offer new fashion items when the seasons change. Consumers expect to see the models from the fashion show in the local shopping street window in a few days and what a celebrity wears today, the fashion fan wants to buy tomorrow. And not just to use it, but to take a selfie with that latest fashion item to add it to Facebook; that creates another cycle: the constant novelty. As the CEO of a UK fashion chain said: “Our clients buy a blouse, buy a dress, buy a jacket, then post a picture of themselves wearing it for a weekend night out and they’re not going to post another picture of themselves wearing the same thing the following Saturday”. Thus we enter the world of fast fashion that must be trendy, attractive and can only be worn a certain number of times. This new process has meant that price is often the key factor that drives the purchase decision, especially among younger buyers. It is a world of “see now – buy now – use now”. The report, which has been comprehensive in this market, has identified six key areas that retailers must address if they are to succeed in this changing fast fashion system.
We will discuss these areas further in the following articles and I will finish this essay with some very interesting research data.
How do young people buy?
Having Analyzed a group of UK consumers, between 18 and 24 years old, the research highlights that:
- More than 40% search for fashion online or in stores one or more times a week.
- More than a third purchase fashion items at least once every 15 days and one in eight buys something every week.
- After purchasing a new item, nearly 60% of the members of this age group will wear it within the first week, while one in five wears it the same day.
- The new garment is likely to be short-lived; more than a half will wear a new item for up to a year, while 25% of them only wear it for less than six months before getting rid of it.
The “see now – buy now” is here to stay, without a doubt. The trends we see among the current generations of digital experts will surely continue. There is no reason to think that today’s children, who have had smartphones since birth, will behave differently in the future. They will have a strong relationship with their mobile phones, demand the same levels of instant gratification and have the same concerns about image and social networking as current fashion shoppers.
Successfully satisfying this demanding market will require rapid decision making, flexible technology, strategic and solid partnerships with suppliers, excellent customer engagement and presence in as many channels as target customers choose to visit.
But above all, this model needs to make room for “agility” so that business can be responsive; for it is clear that the pace of change will not only not slow down but increase.