Like technology itself, the fashion industry has always pushed boundaries, looking down the road rather than at its feet. That said, it shouldn't come as a surprise that fashion brands and new technologies can and do create a formidable combination to significantly enhance efficiency and insight in everything from product design to marketing and merchandising.
With New York Fashion Week just around the corner, Oculus360 (O360) has marked the occasion by leveraging our own platform to reveal some intriguing consumer insights on the fashion industry, the handbag market in particular. By using Amazon as the primary source of the data, we were able to mine their substantial reservoir of customer feedback to better understand the unique and specific needs and desires of fashion consumers.
Amazon Dominates the Domestic Fashion Market
Amazon, of course, has become a fashion and apparel powerhouse in recent years, with clothing and accessory sales routinely projected to climb in massive annual steps, as evidenced by the 30% estimated growth and $28 billion apparel revenues in 2017 alone. For comparison sake, Macy's revenue was projected to drop by 4% with $22 billion in apparel sales for the same period. As a result of its extraordinary growth, Amazon is now the largest clothing and accessory retailer in the United States.
Given its market dominance as well as its massive and ever-growing supply of online customer feedback, O360 decided to use Amazon as the source for our machine learning platform to analyze the handbag market based on over 122,000 different customer comments on 42,000 separate products across 77 unique brands.
The results of our analysis provide in-depth revelations on specific product features that consumers prioritize when making purchases. Likewise, with its ability to draw significant insights and nuanced data from the language of the consumer generated content, the O360 platform was able to reveal otherwise hidden demographic information as well as individual consumer personality traits.
Amazon Audience Affinities
One of the more eye-opening details from our efforts is the disparity between preferred brands and preferred product characteristics within the fashion space. Specifically, although Marc by Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, and Tommy Hilfiger were the three brands that consumers most thoroughly engaged with, the product attributes of highest importance within the target customer base were found most often in three entirely different brands.
Needless to say, this disparity between brand engagement and preferred product attributes represents a tremendous opportunity for fashion brands wanting to better penetrate the fickle fashion marketplace.
In short, fashion brands that are armed with the insights gained from our platform’s analysis can better design and distribute their marketing efforts to heighten awareness on the very specific product features that each of their target audience segments prefer.
Handbag Product Occasions of Use
Diving deeper in our analysis, we found the handbag market offers unique, potentially significant opportunities for brands that are able to properly position themselves. Although our analysis found a weaker correlation between product features and brand differentiation than in other segments of the fashion industry, we were able to reveal tremendous marketing opportunities for well-equipped luxury brands based on occasions of handbag use.
Our analysis concluded that handbag use is segmented by product use occasions, primarily life events like anniversaries or birthdays, as well as dayparts divided into categories like breakfast, evenings, and date nights. We found handbag use occasions to be distinctly divided at the $250 price point where bags priced less than that threshold were typically used for evening occasions like date nights and dinner parties. Conversely, handbags above the $250 threshold were overwhelmingly preferred for on-the-job or occupational purposes.
The specific occasions of use divided by the $250 price point can provide brands significant guidance in product design by incorporating features like phone compartments in pricier handbags. Likewise, pockets specifically made for beauty products can be incorporated into evening-oriented bags below the price threshold. At both price levels, the accompanying product marketing campaigns can highlight those corresponding product attributes to better appeal to the particular occasions of use.
Handbag Consumer Segmentation
Much like the unique insight we gathered for occasions of use, we were also able to uncover some unexpected but extremely useful insight on handbag customer segments. While Millennials account for Amazon's largest segment of clothes shoppers, accounting for 16.6% of the entire online apparel market for Millennials, the handbag market doesn't abide by the same statistics.
Instead, Gen X and Boomer females are Amazon's largest handbag segments. While the Millennial market will only continue to grow in importance, brands would be well-served placing an emphasis on Gen X and Boomers in their handbag marketing campaigns on Amazon in order to increase conversions.
Fashion Reseller Authenticity
On the fashion retailer side of the Amazon platform, our analysis revealed significant trust issues within luxury handbag consumer segments. This specific market segment is far more likely to question a product's authenticity if it is being sold by a reseller or through Amazon Retail rather than directly from the brand. Interestingly, male consumers were the most likely to question whether or not a product is a fake or reproduction.
To quell these trust issues, fashion resellers should be deliberate and convincing with a message that is specifically designed to establish trust and ensure product authenticity within an already weary consumer base.
Optimizing and Refining a Message
Throughout our analysis, a misalignment in messaging between consumer affinities and product merchandising was the most pervasive, overarching theme we found. Simply put, handbag brands can do a much better job of aligning their voice with that of their target consumers in order to significantly increase their conversions, highlighting the features, attributes and occasions most important to consumers in their product descriptions.
Based on our previous examples alone, brands need to better identify specific use occasions like on-the-job versus evening usage of handbags, as well as coinciding product attributes like compartments for smartphones or beauty products. In the specific case of handbags, the most effective marketing messages will tailor themselves to concentrate on what their customers value most in a specific purchase and at a specific price.
To quantify such needs, the O360 platform can score a brand’s content based on its relevance to these particular affinities revealed through customer generated content (such as Amazon comments and reviews). Brands can then use those scores to refine messaging and optimize content. Consumer insights can also significantly enhance assortment and merchandising optimizations to further strengthen impact and engagement.
O360 Provides Guiding Insight Into an Audience’s Affinities
Competing in a highly segmented marketplace with widely diverging affinities requires a deep understanding of target audiences in order to best convey messages that engage and convert. In the particular case of the fashion industry, O360 was able to use its machine learning platform to transform volumes of unbiased, voluntary customer comments and reviews into previously unrealized insights. Such insights can be invaluable in guiding the marketing efforts of fashion brands and retailers to maximize the impact of their message.
With O360, your merchandising programs can be specifically aligned to highlight particular product attributes with the ideal audience in a concise and timely manner so that your marketing is always able to take advantage of current trends within the marketplace. Similarly, our platform allows you to quickly understand the breadth and depth of your product assortment and compare it to that of your competitors, revealing needs that no other brands are addressing.
The insights provided by the O360 platform allow you to design impactful messages and navigate a crowded marketplace to reach your intended targets. The right information can be absolutely transformative – let O360 show you how.