The children’s retail space presents unique and complicated challenges.
There are many factors a brand must balance that can greatly influence the buying patterns and attitudes of shoppers in this market. It is difficult to understand the relationship between the consumer (children) and the shopper (parent/adult) and how those relationships change by occasion and age group. What level of influence does the child have on the purchaser? How can you effectively communicate to both consumer and shopper?
These are some of the questions a major retailer of children’s apparel was asking. They noticed that despite a fashion-forward focus for their products, the brand often lost traction as kids aged. A highly competitive marketplace also became more complicated as digital media’s role in shopping changed drastically. The brand explored ways their lead in the market could stay competitive, how to extend the length of the customer-brand relationships as children aged, and to fully understand the journey of the customer through all touch points with the brand.
The brand’s dedicated C+R Research team developed a solution using quantitative consumer research and advanced analytics to provide some answers that the children’s clothing retail brand needed.
A large children's apparel retailer wanted to bring focus to its marketing, product mix, communications and digital presence, in order to gain a higher share of voice and sales. The research needed to account for many complex dynamics including whom to target (parents, gift-givers, kids), as well as how to compete in an array of channels and brands.
A children’s retail apparel brand has a leading fashion-forward voice in the industry. However, despite the focus on style, the brand was losing traction with their customers as the children aged. In addition, consumer trends and behavior related to retail purchasing had shifted as digital media played a larger role in purchasing decisions. These elements prompted the brand to evaluate the attitudes of their primary audiences, uncover existing purchase barriers, and discover opportunities for path-to-purchase growth by audience segment.
The brand sought a foundational understanding of shoppers of clothing for children 10 and under. They needed to understand what consumers expected from children’s apparel and what motivators the audiences had for making purchases. The brand also needed a larger understanding of how it, along with their competitors, were perceived by their primary audiences.
The goal of this project was to identify attitudes and motivations for children’s clothing purchases, provide perspective on how consumers engaged in the shopping experience. This was viewed across channels by the child’s age time of year, while showing the full shopper journey, including recommendations on the best opportunities to increase conversion and purchase rates.
The C+R analytic team developed an actionable strategy for the children’s apparel retailer which informed communications, messaging, product mix, merchandising and digital media strategy. In our work, we profiled shoppers of children’s clothing and used advanced analytics to help identify key opportunities for the brand.
One major area for improvement was the foundational need for increased awareness of the brand among key consumer groups. The lack of brand awareness impacted the trial conversion rate of prospective customers. Research also showed that the motivations and desires for children’s clothing purchases are similar for mom shoppers and gift shoppers. This finding provided an opportunity for the brand to simplify and align marketing communication strategies to increase the retention rate of these shoppers and improve the awareness of the brand among these key customer segments.
The role of the child and clothing purchase behavior was also profiled. It was discovered that child-acceptance of the products is a key driver in product trials and purchases. Kid-centric communications that complimented mom/gift giver communications were recommended to bridge the gap for digital and other purchasing outlets. The team also demonstrated additional opportunities for growth. One opportunity was the introduction of an untapped customer segment for the brand. Data showed that those who frequently shopped with other specialty retailers were more likely to respond to the fashion-forward promise of the children’s clothing retailer.
Shopper journey from online communications to on-the-ground store behavior was also mapped for the brand. They were shown where there was opportunity to remove barriers and improve the conversion rate for customers. The brand also received insights about how consumers were interacting with the brand both online and in-store during their purchasing journey.
The client has been able to use these recommendations to simplify their messages, helping to reach both moms and gift givers. At the same time, this serves to help expand their outreach to children and maintain a relationship with them as they age. The brand has also maintained their fashion-forward standing in the market and continues to be a top retailer in the industry today.
A quantitative approach used online surveys to profile shoppers of clothing for children, 10 and under. The survey was designed to capture shoppers’ attitudes towards clothing purchases for children to determine how those attitudes varied throughout the purchasing journey.
Some of the survey data capture included but are not limited to:
- The benefits and features sought in children’s clothing purchases,
- Identification of the key moments in the shopper’s journey,
- Attributes that contribute to building brand affinity/loyalty,
- Motivations and needs for purchasing, and
- Wishes or desires in children’s clothing purchases for the audiences
The researchers then used our advanced analytic team’s innovative Max Diff approach as a part of a multivariate analysis of survey responses. We identified attitudinal, occasion, and consumer-type segments and showed the client where the different segments aligned or conflicted with one another.
In the end, the retailer received a multi-faceted report that included:
- The breadth of the role their brand played with consumers,
- Detailed perception mapping of the brand and its competitors,
- Deep profiles of highly profitable consumer segments,
- Where stated needs vs. derived/demonstrated needs aligned or differed
- Recommendations on the biggest opportunity areas for the retailer
With the aid of online qualitative exploration followed by large-scale category segmentation, insights drove recommendations on:
- Kid-friendly Communication: Employ touchpoint tactics to increase familiarity and leverage kid-acceptance
- Targeted Marketing: Broader focus on gift-giving occasion; leverage large database of past shoppers
- Marketing Calendar: Pulsing of sales events to align with key customers' common purchase patterns
- Conversion Strategy: Target shoppers of specialty retailers and compete on "fashion-forward" platform