Brand loyalty when clothes shopping – this is how brands can retain their customers
Brand loyalty is a valuable status that a brand or its company earns from consumers. It means that, despite the numerous alternatives (and there are many in the fashion world), we as consumers are convinced of the brand’s value and quality. We are even willing to pay more for the brand and ignore cheaper alternatives.
However, IFH Cologne and HSH Nordbank have released a study, which suggests that brand loyalty in the German fashion market is not particularly strong.
Of the fashion shoppers surveyed, 49% said that they did not pay attention to the brand the last time they bought new clothes. Almost as many clothes shoppers had planned to buy from the brand that they ultimately chose. However, the brand is the first priority for only a third of clothes shoppers.
Brand loyalty was stronger for younger respondents than for older ones. Of those who bought an article from a brand that they had chosen in advance, 40% prefer this brand in general when shopping for clothes. Young fashion shoppers are looking for brands that suit them particularly well. Of the respondents under the age of 30, 70% wish to express their personality in their clothing. That falls to just 50% for the 60 to 69-year-olds. It is therefore particularly important for the younger generation that the brand image fits their personality. This is not always the case. According to the study, 44% of fashion shoppers under 30 are frustrated when they are unable to find the right item of clothing in a targeted search. For 25% of customers, therefore, clothes shopping means stress.
This is why customers are not loyal to their brands
Retailers and brand manufacturers should know their customers as well as possible, and know why consumers change brands. In clothing, it often comes down to size and fit. In the target group of wealthy fashion shoppers, 62% said that they mostly returned online purchases due to poor fit and unreliable sizes.
According to a study from Shoop.de (a cashback service), price is the most important reason for a brand change, not just for clothes, but for all kinds of products. The study suggests than 70% of German consumers have, at least once, switched brands because their favourite product became more expensive. For 55%, a decline in quality prompted the switch. For one in two, problems with availability were the reason for moving brands. Additional reasons for changing brands included: bad customer service experiences (35%), poor or no sustainability (28%), unfair working conditions (25%), and aggressive advertising (24%).
According to Shoop.de, 57% had switched shoe brands in the past 12 months, with 55% changing their brand of trousers, and just under 50% changing their sportswear brand.
Under-35s are particularly critical consumers
According to a study by GT Nexus and the market researchers YouGov, under-35s are particularly likely to be disloyal to their brands if the relationship has any problems. In the last 12 months alone, 54% of all German Millennials have changed their favourite brand.
“It is no surprise that a high percentage in this age group like to change brands. However, the reasons may be surprising,” said Boris Felgendreher, Senior Marketing Director EMEA at GT Nexus (a cloud-based platform that companies use to drive their global supply chains). It’s not about the brand’s Internet presence or how active the brand is on Facebook. Rather, there are concrete reasons for switching brands that have more to do with logistics, operations, and the supply chain.
Young Germans are unfaithful to their favourite brand:
if the product quality deteriorates,
if the product is not available everywhere,
if the working conditions are unfair,
if the brand is not sustainable.
Manufacturers and retailers need to be aware of these reasons and react accordingly.
Sales figures are directly and negatively affected when a company fails to pay its suppliers fair wages, manufactures its products in poor conditions, or pays no attention to product quality. Felgendreher notes that Millennials are well-informed thanks to continuous contact with digital media.
If a company must recall its products, or if a company sells its products in just a few selected shops, they should expect young customers to go elsewhere. “When a product is not in stock or cannot be delivered, Millennials are very quick to change brands, even if that means leaving their favourite brands,” confirms Felgendreher.
Sustainability as a reason to buy
Young customers also place great importance on how their favourite brands manufacture their products. A total of 45% of respondents said they had boycotted a brand because the workers were badly paid or poorly treated, or because the product was not environmentally friendly.
If you want to gain the loyalty of young customers, sustainability cannot just be a slogan. Rather, the company must really stand for sustainability and ensure that the product is produced sustainably. The clothing and footwear sector has experience here. Accidents in garment factories in Bangladesh and toxins in waterproof clothing had a direct negative effect on sales figures.
For electronic products, young customers are ready to turn a blind eye when it comes to sustainable and fair production. However, they will not do this with clothes. The textile industry therefore suffers the most from sudden “break-ups” with its customers, and is under the most pressure to meet the demands of Millennials.
Because it is only by meeting the high demands of young fashion shoppers that companies can score points with them and have any hope of brand loyalty. This is also the case when those shoppers start families and begin buying children’s products.