Four pillars for finding growth in the UK fashion landscape

With the end of pandemic restrictions, the UK fashion market is undergoing its own restyling as shoppers update their wardrobes and dress to impress.
07 April 2022
Sam Wright

Consumer Insight Director, Europe

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Thanks to a reopening of physical stores, the fashion industry is starting to bounce back, hitting £31.7bn this year – an increase of 4% in sales compared to last year and just 10% behind its pre-pandemic level. However, amid rising inflation and financial uncertainty for many shoppers, finding growth in an area that is led by discretionary spend will become harder as the cost-of-living crisis begins to squeeze shoppers’ wallets even further.

For fashion brands focused on growth, much of this will come down to their ability to recruit new and infrequent shoppers, their willingness to cater towards shoppers across a broader range of demographics, and whether they can give people more reasons to purchase across more categories.

Target infrequent shoppers

The primary focus on many brands is expanding their loyal shopper base. However, our data shows that targeting light, infrequent shoppers - those who buy only once or twice a year – is the shopper group from which there is the most to gain. One extra trip from these light shoppers, who typically only spend in the region of £15 per year with a brand, is worth an extra £47m. This is nearly eight times the value of one extra trip from heavy shoppers – loyal shoppers buying on five or more occasions. Target these light shoppers by offering a wider range of choice through more categories and tapping into the social moments they are likely to spend on.

Cater to all demographics

The most valuable age group in fashion is those aged between 20-30 years, and the majority of fashion brands have been set up and designed specifically to cater to their needs. But this group spends just £10 more per year than the 50-60 shoppers – the group that has the most disposable income but is underserved by the fashion industry.

With only two out of the top 50 fashion brands currently catering for all ages, there is significant room for new entrants to embrace a more diverse range of shoppers. Catering to the needs of three additional demographic groups could be worth, on average, £12m to a top 50 fashion brand.

Boohoo is a good example of this. Part of the brand’s success was due to increasing their shopper base across numerous demographics. While Boohoo was able to meet the needs of their existing – and generally younger – target audience, the brand achieved growth by winning new shoppers aged over 30, and there is plenty of headroom to continue this further. Brands need to cater to the needs of more shoppers; those that only focus on one age group stand to miss out.

Tap into more moments

There are more than 1bn occasions per year where fashion is bought in the UK. On average, fashion shoppers make a purchase every two weeks. But our data shows that 60% of the top 20 fashion brands are under-trading on key moments and missing the opportunity to link their brand with key social occasions.

Pandemic restrictions meant that important fashion occasions such as wedding season, Christmas party outfits, beachwear and more all but disappeared over the last two years as lounge wear dominated. But fashion shoppers are ready to return and spend on vacation wear has gone up more than 25% while partywear has skyrocketed 80% in 2021. Brands need to look for ways to drive shopper growth through targeting more purchase occasions, both old and new.

Diversify categories range

A typical UK shopper purchases items across 17 different fashion categories per year – and to do this they have to shop around. Fewer than half of the top 20 retailers are able to meet the full set of needs from fashion buyers. Diversifying and expanding category ranges and widening product offerings can help keep existing shoppers and encourage them to buy from more of your departments, while attracting new shoppers belonging to different demographics. One of the largest growing retailers, Primark, is successfully getting its fashion shoppers to buy one additional item from its fashion departments, and with nearly 20m British shoppers, this is a big growth opportunity.

To find out more about how your brand can find growth, get in touch with our experts.

Want more like this?

Read: Themes driving the new fashion landscape

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