Back to School Shopping Will Be Value-Driven

Millennials see value as a major driver for their fashion brand purchases. In fact, more than 85% of those surveyed reported perceived value as a major purchase driver, but almost 47% see the fashion industry as doing a marginal to poor job of executing it, according to the results of a study conducted by LIM College professors Robert Conrad, MBA and Kenneth M. Kambara, Ph.D.

The study, “Shopping Trends Among 18-25 Year-Olds,” surveyed 275 LIM College students in associate through master’s-level programs.

According to Professor Conrad, “Our study is very revealing about what these Millennials’ purchase drivers are and how the fashion industry is executing on them. To capture Millennials’ back to school purchases, fashion brands must execute with a holistic approach that encompasses both product offerings and experience.”

Dr. Kambara continued, “There’s a danger of looking at the issue as, ‘a third to a half of the market thinks we are doing a so-so job on satisfaction and value perceptions, so we need to fix it.’ It might be time to look at not only the customer experience, but also at what is being offered. While we see satisfaction and perceived value are driving choice, we also know from decades of research that these are affected by perceived quality and customer expectations. Uniqueness and innovation should probably be looked at as levers.”

Purchase Drivers and Their Execution

Key findings indicate:

1. Approximately 85% of those surveyed consider value to be a major purchase driver, but almost 47% said the fashion industry is doing a marginal to poor job of executing it.

2. Over 75% of those surveyed consider customer satisfaction to be a major purchase driver, but almost 43% said the fashion industry is doing a marginal to poor job of executing it.

3. Approximately 67% of those surveyed consider uniqueness to be a major purchase driver, but almost 35% said the fashion industry is doing a marginal to poor job of executing it.

4. Approximately 50% consider product innovation to be influential, but 35% said the fashion industry is doing a marginal to poor job of executing it.

Favorite Brands
When asked to name their favorite brands over the past few years, the top three identified by the Millennials surveyed were Zara and H&M — both of which rely on a “fast fashion,” high turnover model — and Urban Outfitters, which creates a sense of innovation and change through its store formats.

“Even though these stores remained fairly consistent in student rankings between 2013 and 2015, the brand DNA for each of them is, in one way or another, about appearing unique — which Millennials find very appealing. Topshop follows a similar model. Because its arrival in the United States is relatively recent, it will be interesting to find out if it can maintain its freshness to Millennials and see where this brand ranks two years from now,” Dr. Kambara concluded.