Annoyed With Retail Service, Women Are Buying Their Clothes Online
The Internet, which lets this Boomer woman overcome so many other obstacles the marketplace presents her, now clearly answers her clothing needs as well.
We saw the impact of these trends in a recent survey we conducted, where over 600 smart, successful women 50+ helped us understand their clothes-shopping habits.
The results held two big surprises, the first of which was the degree to which Vibrant Women 50+ have already shifted their clothes shopping online. Thirteen percent buy clothes ONLY online, while 2 out of 3 do at least some of their clothes shopping there.
The second surprise was the degree to which their complaints about bricks-and-mortar shopping are based in the bad retail service they receive. Eighty-four percent of the respondents described retail salespeople as indifferent, inexperienced, invisible or outright rude. Only 16% find sales associates well-trained and helpful.
Why does this matter? Primarily because the Boomer Woman is such an important fashion consumer, and designers, retailers and marketers are failing to badly to engage the fastest-growing, richest demographic among their customer base.
Forty-seven percent of our survey respondents confirmed that they buy clothes "whenever I am in the mood," and only 11% said they shop only during major sales.
In a recession, these shoppers offer a lifeline to department stores, boutiques, and websites. Bricks-and-mortar retailers need to invest more in training sales associates to meet their needs. (Chico's had a long run of success because it was the only mall-based retailer that did so.)
And websites need to ask Boomer women what features and products make them a preferred destination (they could do a lot worse than copying the successes of sites like Zappos.com and Herroom.com).
When we asked them what designer and stores meet their needs, there were no clear winners, with the most votes going to brands with the biggest consumer presence (Macy's, Nordstrom, Liz Claiborne, Jones New York). These women are shopping, but rarely happily, and the suffering U.S. fashion industry has its biggest growth opportunity in meeting their needs.
And we didn't even ask them about shoes!