Social Media Influences 1/​3 of Women's Clothing Shoppers

Over a third of US Millennial women say social media is a top influencer for clothing purchases.åÊWith social media usage and online shopping becoming more commonplace across generations, women‰Ûªs clothing retailers are encountering widespread changes in the way they communicate with consumers. According to a new report from Mintel, 67% of U.S. women purchased clothing online from retailers in the past year, up from 63% in 2013.

Furthermore, over a third of Millennial women (35%) say social media is one of the top influencers when making clothing purchases.åÊThe channel once considered less trustworthy and reliable is now set to change the face of the women‰Ûªs clothing market.

According to Mintel research,åÊthe women‰Ûªs clothing market is expected to increase in sales by 14% through 2019. Online sales are projected to skyrocket an additional 77% alongside mobile sales. Based on projections, purchases made on a mobile device will comprise 25% of all online sales by 2017. These trends highlight åÊthe massive changes in U.S. consumer shopping habits and are an indicator that an even greater percentage of apparel shopping will be conducted online in the future.

Social networks drive purchases

Mintel research also reveals that U.S. social media advertising revenue is projected to hit $15 billion by 2018, including a portion spent by women‰Ûªs clothing retailers in an effort to reach the population of social media users who purchase women‰Ûªs clothing. For example, 82% of social media users purchased tops in the past year versus 70% of social media non users. As social media advertising evolves, more traditional methods retailers use to reach consumers are beginning to falter. Social, online, and mobile growth has resulted in more ways to reach consumers, and younger Millennials are more likely to turn to these sources. While 55% of women still consider promotional notices in the mail as a top influencer for purchasing clothing, that number falls to 46% among Millennials age 18–34.

‰ÛÏThe importance of social media must be underscored, especially as a way to connect with young women. Over three quarters of social media users purchased women‰Ûªs clothing in the last year compared to 70% of social media non users. Additionally, 35% of U.S. women 18–34 point to social media as a key influencer that impacts their purchasing decisions,‰Û said Diana Smith, Senior Retail and Apparel Analyst at Mintel. ‰ÛÏWith one third of Millennial women visiting sites like YouTube (34%) and Instagram (33%) on a daily basis, and 71% using Facebook every day, clothing retailers should harness the power of social media to further engage these impressionable, influential, and savvy shoppers.‰Û

Casualization at home, at work and at play

While the most commonly purchased items of women‰Ûªs clothing remain tops/​T‑shirts (65%) and jeans (54%), the apparel industry is being impacted by an overall increase and acceptability of casualization in all forms, both socially and in work settings. One area of significant growth is ‰ÛÏathleisurewear‰Û ‰ÛÒ or fitness clothing that is being worn for casual purposes. The top reason for buying fitness clothing is to wear it for casual purposes (38%), according to Mintel data. Women are driving this trend because they have more bottoms options to choose from, and thus more frequently wear informal clothing like yoga pants and leggings compared to men. Because of this, types of casual clothing items like jeans are being negatively impacted.

‰ÛÏCasualization and the growth of athleisurewear have strongly affected the women‰Ûªs clothing market. Our data shows that over half of women say that comfort is more important to them than what‰Ûªs in style, proving that comfort reigns supreme,‰Û Smith continued. ‰ÛÏThe athleisurewear trend is spreading across demographics; celebrities are sporting it and high-​end fashion designers are devoting entire product lines to premium athleisurewear.‰Û

Shopping likes and dislikes

Some 53% of women aged 18–24 claim to enjoy shopping for clothes compared to 40% of all women. A full 92% of female Millennials purchased items in the past year, the most of any generation. In general, younger generations prefer shopping over older generations, as enjoyment rates drop consistently among every group above age 45. In line with this are consumers‰Ûª attitudes toward the overall shopping experience. According to Mintel data, 42% of women say they prefer to shop alone, with Millennial women most likely to view shopping as a fun, social experience to enjoy with friends (only 28% prefer to shop alone), while women 55+ are most likely to prefer shopping alone.

Whether alone or with others, shopping is a personal experience. This is why the notion of self-​gifting is popular among U.S. women. Women are just as likely to buy clothing as a treat or reward as they are to make an impulse purchase (29%). While women are guilty of self-​gifting, men spend a considerable amount on women‰Ûªs clothes as well, likely as gifts for significant others, friends or family members. Over the past three months, U.S. men spent an average of $225 on women‰Ûªs clothing. In comparison, that is only 17% less than the overall amount women spent on clothing for themselves during the same time period.

While a fair amount of women enjoy shopping and self-​gifting, there are threats to the industry, including obesity. Data shows the lingering epidemic could impact the women‰Ûªs clothing market if more women who are obese refrain from shopping for new clothing because of the challenges of finding clothes that fit. In fact, 44% of U.S. women say it is difficult to find clothes that fit due to inconsistency of sizes between brands and stores. An additional 38% of women say items in their size are often sold out or not available. These deterrents hold different implications for retailers. However, according to data, nearly half of US women (43%) tend to favor a few stores for purchasing clothes, largely due to the confidence in knowing that the clothes will fit.

AudienceSCAN found that 23.8% of U.S. adults plan to spend at least $500 on women's clothing this year for themselves or their families. You can find 51% of them getting their local news on TV. And ads/​coupons in mailboxes are effective for getting 44% of them to take action. In the past 12 months, 57% also took action after seeing a daily deal. They are 92% more likely than average to shop at Gap stores. 20% have checked to see if a desired product is in stock via their mobile devices.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports inåÊAdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.