What are the key motivators and shopping habits for females when buying clothing? What triggers them, how do they like their pruchases to be validated and how are they adapting to the ever increasing pace of the fast fashion trend? (ideally focussed on UK, US and German markets)
Hello! Thanks for your question about the shopping habits and key motivators for women in the US, UK, and Germany when purchasing clothes. The short version is that current trends highlighting how women shop for fashion point to five specific inspiration factors coupled with three distinct types of triggers that spur on a complete buying cycle.
Our findings show that fast fashion is a near-perfect match with how brains are hard-wired to make purchase decisions, and although this market segment is currently doing quite well, Millennials are moving away from this disposable product mindset toward more sustainable apparel options.
The psychological and behavioral overviews sited in this response relate to women in general, rather than any of the specific national markets, unless otherwise noted, and it must be stated that there is not a lot of data or information relating solely to the German market. In the instances where German market information is not available, data and information from the greater European Union is utilized. Below you will find a deep dive of my findings.
We searched predominantly on dedicated trade and industry resource publications, trusted media sites, user forums and review sites relevant to determining women's key motivators for shopping, as well as what the main preferences are for validation of their apparel choices. We compiled the data found in this EU Journal study to contrast shopping motivation and purchase triggers of women as compared to the motivations of men as directed in your query.
Further articles provided a lot of valuable insight to your query and provided a good foundation to more deeply understand the reasons behind the shopping habits and trends that are currently occurring in the apparel market. "What Motivates Women's Clothing Choices", "3 Reasons Why Women Shop" and "Why Fast Fashion is so Addictive" were especially helpful in this regard.
We have divided our findings into the distinct subject matters that you request in your question in order to provide the information in a useful and easy to digest format. These topic break-outs reflect our findings in each of the sub-questions. Please note that psychological studies and observations are included, where applicable, within each sub-topic.
The findings are limited to the US, UK, and German markets as per your request except where information relates to women in general. Where specific information particular to the German market was not available, the greater European Union market is discussed.
SHOPPING HABITS / KEY MOTIVATORS
There are five likely motivators driving the shopping habits of women in the US, UK and the greater European Union. (Bullet points are quoted from the linked study):
"While the United States no longer enforces strict social policies on women and the clothes they wear, some cultures still uphold the aspect of modesty in women's fashion."
"Women are now able to choose their clothing according to what makes them feel attractive and alluring."
"Women's clothing choices are also motivated by their status or position within a social group, as some pieces call attention to a specific affiliation."
"Various forms of women's fashion are set aside for specific ceremonies and occasions that mark significant moments in her life."
"In the United States, women often follow the latest fashion trends, whether it is cutting their hair like a celebrity, choosing a designer purse, or selecting clothing that matches the newest 'color of the season.'"
TRIGGERS OF BUYING EVENTS
There are a number of events that trigger women in general to make clothing purchases, and the literature supports three main categories into which most purchases fall:
In the apparel market overall, almost one third of all purchases are made on the spot without research or planning to buy said item. To trigger this type of purchase, limited-time special offers and discounted pricing are particularly motivating. Women deem clothing to be overpriced and when they see something that strikes them as a good deal she will be inclined to move quickly.
This trigger occurs when a women has an item that is completely out of date or no longer functional due to wear and tear. With this type of trigger, women will conduct a comprehensive amount of research, including comparison shopping online well before making the purchase decision. With this trigger, discounts will not be as impactful as the purchase is thought to one where quality is and useful life is considered more important than getting a good deal.
Just over 30% of women purchase clothing for themselves as a special treat or marker of an important accomplishment such as a promotion or new job. When women aged 18-24 years old were surveyed, the number rose to 40%, with a corresponding 42% for those aged 35-44.
PREFERRED VALIDATIONS OF PURCHASES
Our research disclosed that it is in this category that men and women's behavior varied most significantly. Men like to have ease of use and a time efficient experience while women enjoy emotive shopping experiences. Women are validated when they are treated as those they matter, and they biggest feeling that they are looking for in their apparel choices is validation that they matter.
This validation can come from the marketing tone, the behavior and demeanor of the sales staff, and the perceived quality of the garment. Women are very heavily self-validated and if a shopping experience makes them feel good, they will likely return.
Additionally, women are validated by social media interactions, such as likes and favorable comments on their photos. Women also appreciate feeling like they got a good deal, which will in turn cause them to look upon a certain clothing piece more favorably.
A functional approach to reaching women will not worked based on these conclusions, and the most effective strategy is one that draws them in and feels personal to their needs.
ADAPTATION TO THE FAST FASHION TREND
The way that fast fashion is presented fits well with the way that our brains are wired and how certain factors create a more positive response. It has been found that our medial prefrontal cortexes are hard-wired to conduct a sort of cost-benefit analysis on the fly.
Studies show that the brain is able to assess both intrinsic value (as it relates to personal tastes) aligned with price considerations in order to make a decision on the value of the item to the purchaser compared with the cost. Fast fashion is perfectly situated to hone in on the sweet spot of moderate interest coupled with a moderate, or low, price point.
Additionally, this market segment of low price clothing also appeals to the desire of women (and men to a somewhat lesser degree) of consider themselves fashion conscious as well as savvy consumers. The rapidity at which the merchandise turns over is another factor that lures shoppers back more frequently in order to see what is new.
To wrap it up, there are five key influencing events and three key triggers contributing to women's apparel shopping. Fast fashion is currently deemed economical as well as a fun trend, but it is important to note that the recent trend with Millennial shoppers shows movement away from this segment and toward longer-lasting and higher quality apparel choices.
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