oculus360 - Jan 10, 2019

Gap and Columbia Among Top Brands for Product Colors in the Women's Fashion World

Product attributes play a pivotal role in separating successful fashion brands from the countless also-rans spread throughout the marketplace. While the notion of design and color seem simple and straightforward at first glance, the ability to better understand what a brand’s target consumers want from their fashion choices are anything but straightforward and rarely simple.

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In other words, fashion brands that collect and analyze data regarding a preferred attribute like color, for instance, stand to gain a competitive advantage that is difficult, if even possible, to overcome in the crowded women’s fashion world. Thankfully, as demonstrated by our recent analysis of the top product colors in women’s fashion, Oculus360 (O360) provides robust solutions to fashion brands trying to leverage such insights. As you’ll see, such insights help brands steer their product design and messaging to best cater to the demanding women’s fashion customer base.


Basis of Analysis

Like our previous case studies looking at women’s wedding and bachelorette party attire and leading fashion brands at the office, O360 used a comprehensive and exhaustive approach when analyzing the top product colors in the women’s fashion world. We examined online customer commentary and reviews between 2004 and 2018 across the women’s fashion vertical to form the basis of our analysis, specifically targeting over 530,000 individual consumer comments and opinions about colors within the last two years.

As our analysis demonstrates, these data points allow fashion brands to gauge sentiment and engagement levels that are instrumental in tailoring their products and message to the rapidly changing women’s fashion customer base. Furthermore, we also look at the impact the proverbial elephant in the room, Amazon, has on the women’s fashion vertical relative to color attributes, providing additional guidance to help brands navigate the crowded marketplace.


Color Attribute Analysis Without Amazon

The following graph depicts the sentiment and engagement levels for several brands in women’s fashion based on consumer thoughts on color attributes. Brands above the horizontal axis excel with consumer sentiment while those to the right of the vertical axis successfully engage their target audience in expressing opinions about product color. o360_Matrices_Gap-and-Columbia-Among-Top-Brands-for-Product-Colors-in-the-Women's-Fashion-World_NoAmazon

Looking at the landscape excluding Amazon, the top players include a wide variety of different sized brands distributed across the four quadrants. Gap, a brand that tends to be more centralized in its appeal to a wide demographic, is understandably towards the middle of the vertices with a large amount of conversation around its color attributes. Lesser known brands like Lush and Leith display high engagement but low sentiment levels around color while, in a somewhat surprising revelation, well-established brands like Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren display high sentiment but low engagement relative to the competition.

A closer look at a few examples of the underlying data uncovers additional insights for the individual women’s fashion brands as well as the most beneficial course of action for them to take.


Free People

Free People is a brand that displays relatively high engagement and slightly above-average sentiment around the color attributes of its product line. The brand is best served concentrating its efforts on improving those sentiment levels with its target audience. A deeper dive into the data shows a high level of engagement around its orange-colored products. We also see a relatively low level of engagement around Navy which is the color with the highest level of engagement for other brands. Comments around their hot pink and salmon pink-colored products is another noteworthy finding, showing sentiment lower than other brands with consumer discussion of those colors.



Gap stands out as the brand with the largest volume of discussion. Gap is especially strong in navy and pink, with Gap displaying more engagement around these colors than any other brand in the analysis. Digging in more, we see Gap has particularly high sentiment with pastel pink, especially with Millennial females, while light pink has particularly strong engagement with Gen X females. Also, considering the brand’s significant size and name recognition, it stands to reason that O360’s analysis places Gap -- along with other similar brands -- towards the center of both the sentiment and engagement indices.


Color Attribute Analysis With Amazon

As one would expect, the introduction of Amazon into the analysis significantly skews the results, a boon to some brands in women’s fashion but a hindrance to others.

The graphic above shows both the emergence and repositioning of a handful of popular brands like Lee, Columbia, and Hanes as well as private label department store brands like BP (Nordstrom), Alfani (Macy’s), and Zella (Nordstrom). Interestingly, these brands now cluster closer together in sentiment and engagement while Gap experiences a significant rise in the engagement index. Conversely, Lee and 90 Degree by Reflex display low sentiment levels regarding product color when including the ubiquitous Amazon channel into the study.


As we saw in O360’s previous studies, Amazon also gives entrance to the marketplace to smaller brands like Lock and Love, Made by Johnny, and Zeagoo that the analysis otherwise excludes without the convenience and unique benefits afforded by the massive online retailer. Obviously, between the discussed emergence or repositioning of several brands after introducing Amazon, some brands are better than others in using the channel to their advantage as a more granular look at some examples reveals.



Columbia is an example of a brand that only emerges as a market leader in women’s fashion with the inclusion of Amazon. The brand displays above-average sentiment but fairly average engagement regarding product color, meaning it’s best served focusing on improving its message to form deeper connections with its target audience through the use of color in its messaging strategy. Looking at some particular colors, Columbia has a relatively strong engagement in light gray/heather. However, it has negative sentiment with some comments describing the color being different than what was expected based on descriptions and pictures. This presents a clear opportunity to change product design or merchandising to be more in line with customer expectations.



Levi’s is a major brand that suffers from fairly low sentiment and engagement around colors. Highest engagement is around the color blue, which is not surprising given the focus on denim. Sentiment around blue is fairly neutral. Meanwhile, sentiment is highest around light grey and misty grey colors, and indeed many fashion experts are predicting this to be the next big denim trend for fall. With a sentiment advantage in this color vs other top brands, Levi’s could play to this advantage and trend in their marketing and merchandising, which should drive up both sentiment and engagement.


The O360 Difference

The vastness of the online environment represents both an opportunity and barrier for brands trying to hone their product design and messaging to maximize conversions. As O360 demonstrated in our analysis of the top product colors in the women’s fashion world, our AI-driven approach is uniquely capable of identifying vital data regarding consumer behavior and preferences hidden within the seemingly endless digital world.

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With O360 as a valuable partner, fashion brands can use product attributes like color and many others as a source of insight to improve sentiment, intensify engagement, and ultimately increase conversions in an incredibly competitive vertical. When the smallest of details can make the most significant differences, the nuanced information from O360’s advanced tools is a windfall for women’s fashion brands striving for distinct, enduring success.

Written by oculus360