LIM College Study Reveals Social Media Not a Major Influence on Millennials’ Fashion Purchases

When it comes to fashion, millennials see themselves as a “brand of one.” In fact, less than 7% of those surveyed reported that they are influenced by the opinions of bloggers and vloggers in deciding what apparel and accessories to buy, and more than 62% consider the uniqueness, or “newness” of the products offered as the most compelling reason to make a fashion purchase, 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 18-35 Year-Olds,” surveyed 665 millennials ages 18-35.

Professor Conrad says, “Our study is very revealing about what these millennials’ purchase drivers are and how the fashion industry is executing on them. Each views her or himself as a ‘market of one’ and wants to have something exclusive and not readily available to others. They want to put their look together in their own original, authentic way.”

“To millennials, the uniqueness of the product is more important than the brand attached to it, or what ‘influencers’ might say about it. As soon as a fashion item is seen as popular, mainstream and easily accessible, millennials will immediately abandon it. Unlike their parents at the same age, there are no ‘uniforms.’” 

According to Dr. Kambara, “The fashion industry is approaching millennials with old habits that won’t work. Fashion brands are offering much of the same products and too much of them. Then they use advertising and ‘influencers,’ — social media and paid bloggers and vloggers — to tell these increasingly discriminating millennials to buy what they are pushing. To capture millennials’ fashion purchases, fashion brands must focus on the uniqueness of the products they offer. Not only must the offerings be new and different, there should not be a lot of them available. This is what Zara does so well. While customer satisfaction, perceived price-value ratio and the overall shopping experience drive choice, for millennials the fundamental differentiating factor is product uniqueness and innovation.”

Forty-five percent of survey respondents “strongly agree” that online retailers encourage loyalty through frequent product introductions, whereas this figure dropped to 30% for department and specialty stores.

Says Professor Conrad, “The fact is, stores are closing. This helps explain why. Because millennials’ attention spans are much shorter, stores need to change product assortments more quickly. E-commerce allows for this, but brick-and-mortar can’t do it quickly enough.”

Adds Dr. Kambara, “In our study, brand name ranked lowest in determining value. Millennial consumers don’t want to see the sweater they just purchased on 10 other people.”