The Millennial Consumer’s Handbag Shopping Journey is More Like Buying a Car than Clothing

BY Courtney Huckabay

The Millennial customer treats a handbag purchase as a multi-​step process, and 41 percent said they started thinking about their most recent handbag purchase more than a month in advance, according to a new report from global information company The NPD Group, created in partnership with Stylitics.

The New Handbag Customer Revealed 2016 study examines the closets and mindset of Millennial women to understand their needs, aspirations, inspirations, and the triggers that make them purchase.

Women 18 and over spent a total of $11.5 billion on handbags in the U.S. in 2015. Handbag expenditures grew 5 percent compared to 2014, fueled by Baby Boomers with greater discretionary incomes. However, sales among Millennials age 18–34 inched forward by only 2 percent, led by a double-​digit increase in spending by older members of the generation.

AudienceSCAN found 17.6% of adults intend to purchase new purses or handbags in the next 12 months for themselves or family.

The Millennial customer is shopping for handbags very differently than other generations,” said Rohan Deuskar, CEO & co-​founder of Stylitics, a fashion technology and insights company. “For example, this customer starts with specific product attributes, not brand, when looking for her next handbag, and invests more time and research in her purchase than brands and retailers realize. These findings have been eye-​opening for handbag sellers, and are having an immediate impact on their marketing, merchandizing, and product development strategies.”

AudienceSCAN research reveals 21.5% of Purse/​Handbag Shoppers are aged 25–34.

The Millennial handbag customer is increasingly more focused on the details, quality, and uniqueness of her handbags, than the brand itself, across most price points and styles. This makes this customer much more open to trying emerging or lesser-​known brands, which has implications for both established brands and newcomers.

The complex, highly rational, and highly emotional nature of the handbag purchase journey poses many opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to capture the attention of the Millennial customer, whether it is through social media or a hands-​on experience.

Try reaching Purse/​Handbag Shoppers with emailed ads or newsletters, because AudienceSCAN reports 34% of these shoppers responded to email offers in the past month.

With the complex nature of the Millennial handbag purchase journey, combined with the diverse needs of selling the same handbags across a variety of generations, it becomes even more critical to ensure those selling your handbags know all the right reasons behind each generation’s choices,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc. “The handbag has become a signature item, and retailers need to take advantage of selling it in-​store, up-​front and center, as their own signature.”

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.