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Three Media Trends Influencing Consumers’ Apparel Purchases

January 10, 2013 Leave a comment

I’m excited to announce that I was asked to contribute to Retail Touchpoints’ 2013 Outlook Guide on behalf of BIGinsight™ and below is our article. To view the full Guide, which includes contributions from 13 retail industry experts — including well-known analysts, consultants and researchers, and one retailer – please click here.

The economic crisis that rocked our country nearly five years ago has clearly left its mark on today’s consumers. Gone are the days of excess when shoppers would spend now and worry later about paying for their purchases. The “new normal” mindset mandates that consumers think twice about their purchases, spend when necessary, and scrimp and save at every corner. While the fiscal responsibility we’re seeing now is necessary for the long-term health of our still-fragile economy, retailing as we know it has become an increasingly competitive landscape with merchants vying for a share of this shrinking wallet.

The challenge for retailers now is to attract customers, get them into their stores (or online), and keep them there through the checkout. In this new economy, it’s imperative that retailers create marketing communications plans that integrate both new media and more traditional outlets in a manner that speaks to their core customers effectively and efficiently. With this in mind, BIGinsight identified three media trends influencing consumer purchases within the very competitive apparel category.

The Waning Influence of Traditional Media

While consumers indicate that the top ten types of media that influence their apparel purchases are of the more traditional variety, half of these media have declined in influence over a two year period, while others are showing slow or no growth. With circulation rates slipping, it may come as no surprise that the effectiveness of newspapers (Index* to June 2010 = 83) and advertising inserts (Index = 85) are facing the steepest declines. Other forms of print media are suffering as well; the influence of magazines and direct mail has diminished 5% for each over a 24 month time period. Today’s budget-minded consumers appear to be keeping the influence of instore promotions and coupons afloat, while TV, email, and internet advertising have remained relatively stable as well.

Top 10 Media Influencers on Apparel Purchases

Trending UPward: Social Media, Mobile, and Blogs

While the various forms of mobile and social media don’t appear within the top ten media influencers for apparel, their pull among clothing shoppers has become much stronger over the past two years. In fact, the influence of mobile devices on apparel purchases has increased 130% over June 2010! Social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) has increased nearly 40%, while blogs (Index* to June 2010 = 140), videos on mobile devices (Index = 143), and text messaging on mobile devices (Index = 133) have realized double-digit growth as well.

New Media Growth: Millennials are in the Driver’s Seat

The Millennial generation (born between 1983 and 1993) is quite literally the driving force behind the growth of influence of mobile and social media on apparel purchases. Compared to the average consumer (Adults 18+), Millennials are more than twice as likely to indicate that videos on mobile devices (Index* to Adults 18+ = 247) influence their clothing expenditures. Blogs (Index = 238) and text messages on mobile devices (Index = 213) are highly influential with this younger group of consumers, as are social media (Index = 188) and mobile devices in general (Index = 195).

While the economic downturn certainly shoulders much of the responsibility for the new consumer, we also must consider the impact of new technology as a changing force behind evolving shopper behavior. While still relatively small, the growing influence of mobile and social media on purchases cannot be ignored by retailers. Today’s smart shoppers are tapping into a wide variety of media for product information, reviews, availability, sales/promotions, and pricing. Knowing your customers and the types of media to which they adhere are key to developing a successful marketing strategy in the increasingly competitive retail environment.

To view the full 2013 Outlook Guide from Retail Touchpoints, click here.

* Index of 100 is flat, while an index of 105 [or 95] indicates that a figure is 5% higher [or lower] than the comparative figure.

Source: BIGinsight.com

© 2013, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development

Battle of the Sexes: Merry Mobile Activities

December 4, 2012 3 comments

I’ve been making a list, checking it twice, storing it in my mobile device…and clearly singing as I do so. Nearly 3 in 10 (29.7%) Mobile Users say they do the same—minus the singing. However, according to Prosper Mobile Insights™, the most popular merry mobile activity among smartphone and tablet users is taking pictures (85.0%), so get ready for all the Instagram notifications! The majority also plan to check the weather and keep in touch with loved ones they won’t get to see for the holidays, thanks to mobile making it so easy to share every holiday moment with those near and far.

Top mobile holiday activities are similar across genders, and there really isn’t much of a battle between men and women when it comes to spreading holiday cheer via technology. Women win the title of “Cheermeister” on nearly all mobile activities analyzed. From sharing holiday experiences through social media, to looking for holiday recipes and even purchasing products, Female Mobile Users appear more likely than their male counterparts to get merry with mobile this year:

Merry Mobile Activities

Click here to access the complimentary Mobile InsightCenter™ and see all of the holiday mobile activities!

Women are also much more prone than men to use their smartphones and tablets for discovering new decorating ideas, keeping track of upcoming holiday events (thank you Google calendar for reminding me where I need to be all the time!) and keeping gift lists. If you are like me, that gift list doesn’t just say “shirt for brother” – it lists the brand, color, size, special fit and perhaps even a photo so you can just show a store associate and quickly locate what you need.

Speaking of shopping…searching for gifts, stores and deals is another hot holiday activity to accomplish via mobile among both men and women, along with purchasing products. To find out more about how Mobile Users prefer to make mobile purchases, be sure to check out our latest release: Browsers/Apps More Popular than Swipe/Tap Method for Mobile Holiday Purchasing, according to Prosper Mobile Insights™


Source: Prosper Mobile Insights™ Mobile Survey, NOV-12, N=333

© 2012, Prosper®

Can an iPhone 5 Save JC Penney?

It seems that Apple has the Midas Touch, and when JC Penney brought former SVP Ron Johnson on board in late 2011, it was heralded by many as a genius decision. Long relegated to the back of consumers’ minds [along with Sears], it appeared that this department store dinosaur was finally making a conscious effort to reinvigorate its stodgy image and arming itself to compete with its more present day foes: Macy’s, Kohl’s, and TJ Maxx.

With the advent of m-commerce, social media, and increasing connectivity, it seemed that this marriage between an Apple exec and JC Penney was a solid union – at least enough to advance the department store into 21st century retailing. However, as 2012 has progressed, it has become clear that the new “Fair & Square” JC Penney has gotten off to a very rocky start.

While JC Penney certainly has taken some steps in the right direction – focusing on exclusive brand names from the likes of Nicole Miller, Liz Claiborne, Mango, and even the Olsen twins takes a page from Kohl’s and Macy’s successful playbooks. Today’s consumers demand quality products at great prices, and they want to feel good about their purchases when walking out of the store. Here’s where JC Penney missteps: they have eliminated the excitement from the shoppers’ buying process. Having an extra 10-20% off coupon or buying an item on sale – which Kohl’s and Macy’s offer in abundance – gives the shopper the feeling that they’ve one-upped the retailer, i.e. the customer wins.

This shopping euphoria is essential when marketing apparel in an uncertain economy. Consumers already had closets full of clothes, and when it came time to really trim budgets during the “Great Recession,” apparel was one of the easiest budget cuts to stomach. It’s interesting that even during a downturn in the economy, electronics sold – maybe with a little less frequency and at somewhat lower price points, but the latest HDTVs, tablets, notebooks, smartphones, and all things iOS were, and continue to be, hot selling items. Budget-conscious consumers could justify the purchase of a new TV or computer; these were items that the whole family could enjoy, helped us multitask, and in some cases, assist with homework. In other words, electronics were fun, practical, and educational. Consumers literally couldn’t buy into this same reasoning when it came to apparel or home goods, categories that JC Penney so desperately needed to move on the selling floor.

When Johnson joined JC Penney last year, it appeared that the Apple “ego” followed him as well. Apple is an innovative brand with a heady following, and its retail outlets, which Johnson cultivated, served to build on this loyalty and brought out the curiosity in others – they were what shoppers demanded and gravitated toward.

JC Penney lacks the Apple cachet, and its “Fair & Square” overhaul – ditching coupons and weekly promotions in the process – failed to make a compelling argument as to why shoppers needed to check out their revamped stores. Sure low prices are great, but the new normal directs shoppers to seek out that extra incentive when it comes to buying non-essentials like apparel and home décor. The “new” JC Penney already has proof of this – just look at its successful free haircut promotion for Back-to-School; the operative word here, of course, is free.

A glance at what motivates shoppers to make apparel purchases shows us the continued importance of instore promotions and coupons in this category. According to BIGinsight’s semi-annual Media Behaviors and Influence™ survey of 25,000 consumers, apparel sales and promotions are the #1 driver for shoppers of many of the top U.S. retailers, including JC Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Gap, H&M, and Nordstrom – yes, even promotions are key with luxury shoppers. And, in instances where instore promotions aren’t the top motivation for apparel purchases, they are still likely top of mind. At TJ Maxx, for example, while 42.3% rely on word of mouth, nearly as many (40.4%) value a good sale.

While word of mouth is the #2 influencer for apparel purchases among JC Penney shoppers (at 36.3%), coupons are almost as important (35.5%). JC Penney customers’ attraction to apparel coupons is stronger than that of the general population (30.7%) as well. Coupons don’t carry nearly as much clout over in Apple’s wheelhouse – electronics – so it’s plain to see why Johnson was so quick to axe those money-savers at JC Penney.

So can an iPhone save JC Penney? Can a marketing approach borne from Apple revive a struggling department store? Can pigs fly? Clearly not. What works for Apple – what used to work for Ron Johnson – simply has no place in JC Penney’s strategy. Today’s apparel shoppers have honed their bargain-hunting skills and crave a good deal on their terms. Instead of trying to force “Fair & Square” on the buying public – much like the launch of a great, new, innovative product à la Apple – JC Penney really should have first become more attuned its target customers.

This post originally appeared on Forbes.com as a contribution to the Prosper Now blog.

Mobile Users Speak: Mobile Aptitude on the Rise

It looks as though mobile devices are here to stay; purchase intentions have been on the rise since 2011, even as the cost of living increases. The latest iPhone installment and newest Droid tablet appear to be on the “Do Not Cut Back” list for most consumers:

More and more consumers are acquiring the means to be mobile.

Naturally, those who have smartphones and tablets are using them for a variety of purposes. Some may even be considering replacing their laptop! Although a desktop or laptop computer is the preferred method for Internet access, this portion has been declining since April 2012. Earlier this year, 2 in 3 (67.1%) preferred using a computer to access the Internet, compared to just over half (56.7%) as of August. Mobile Users who prefer using a smartphone for web surfing have increased in numbers from April (22.3% to 29.0%) along with those who opt for tablet devices (10.7% to 14.3%).

Further, those mobile users with smartphones are going beyond the basics of their gadgets—they not only have means, but also the motivation to use their devices to the fullest. As of September, only 11.7% say they use their smartphone just for call/text/email. The rest of users are split: 46.0% use the basic features plus some applications while 42.2% say their smartphone is their life! These avid users remain in the majority while the proportion of phone fundamentalists is trending downward:

Would you like to discover your own mobile insights? All of these and more can be found at the Prosper Mobile InsightCenter™. Check it out soon! For the entire month of October, Prosper Mobile Insights is offering an All Access Pass to behind-the-scenes segments including wireless providers, retailer shoppers and extended demographic segments.


Source: Prosper Mobile Insights™

© 2012, Prosper®

Mobile Users Speak: Digital Cross-Shopping In Physical Stores

September 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Researching products on a smartphone or tablet is quite popular among Mobile Users – 39.6% say they regularly conduct mobile research while 48.5% occasionally do so. Two in three (66.5%) also regularly or occasionally purchase products using their mobile devices. It’s no big surprise that mobile cross-shopping (searching the web on a mobile device to compare offerings and prices while browsing a physical store) is a growing trend among shoppers equipped with smartphones and tablets.

More than half (59.1%) say they have compared prices on a mobile device while shopping in a physical store. 1 in 3 still purchased from the same physical store (34.5%) but just as many chose to purchase from a different retailer (33.8%). The next most popular mobile cross-shopping activities include purchasing from another retailer’s website, either using a smartphone or tablet (25.9%) or logging on using a laptop after leaving the store (22.3%). Those Mobile Users who shopped Best Buy or Amazon.com in the past 90 days are more likely to engage in these activities:

*For this analysis, Shoppers are defined as those who said they shopped at a particular retailer in the past 90 days.

It’s interesting to see the vast majority of those who’ve recently visited Best Buy have cross-shopped without leaving a store, further promoting Best Buy’s growing reputation as Amazon.com’s showroom. These savvy mobile users are looking for the best buy, whether it’s at their current shopping location, next door or online.

Further, mobile devices are great shopping companions. 39.0% say they’ve used a smartphone or tablet to check out product reviews, 35.7% have scanned a QR code for more info, 23.8% have “checked in” for a discount and 17.7% requested a price match—all while shopping in a physical store! Amazon and Best Buy customers are even more prone to these thrifty digital habits:

Over a third (36.8%) of Best Buy shoppers say they’ve requested a price match via mobile while shopping…perhaps they’ve informed a Geek of a better buy found through the Price Check app from Amazon? Best Buy could be in trouble if Amazon’s customers continue to find the site so favorable.

Source: Prosper Mobile Insights™, Mobile Survey (AUG-12), N=328

© 2012, Prosper®

Surprising Insights: American Pulse

As some of you may know, we’ve been releasing these really handy tools called InsightCenters, perfect for serving up answers in an intuitive, interactive and illustrative way. You can find insights on a wide range of topics – mobile device ownership, Hispanic consumers, new vehicle purchasers, government unemployment stats, and even the economy of China—all at the click of a mouse or the tap of a touch screen!

At the moment I have a domestic focus, and have been exploring our American Pulse InsightCenter, which takes a look at how Americans feel about the upcoming election, the economy, technology, and much more!

In just a few minutes, I was able to easily gather these fun facts:

  • Members of Generation Y are more likely than older generations to say they are addicted to the Internet and Facebook.
    • More Boomers than younger Americans say they are addicted to TV.
  • Men are more likely than women to be happier with the work life, and both genders’ happiness levels in the workplace are higher in 2012 than they were in 2011.
    • Women, however, are more likely than men to be happy or totally happy with their love lives.
  • In July, Hispanics were more likely than Whites and Blacks to thoroughly enjoy their lives rather than worrying about making money.
  • Members of Generation Y are more confident that the government’s economic policies will help lower unemployment, and their confidence is growing.
  • Neither Presidential candidate has a positive Net Promoter Score* among Likely Voters.
    • Obama, however, receives a higher score among Democrats than Romney does among Republicans.

Take a look for yourself and see what you can learn about the pulse of America: the people! And for the people, did I mention access to this InsightCenter is totally free? :)  (Just click the image to access the online version or download to your Android tablet!)

Source: BIGinsight.com

© 2012, Prosper®

*About the Net Promoter Score (NPS): Respondents were asked to rate, on a scale from 0 (Not at all likely) to 10 (Extremely likely), the probability they would recommend each presidential candidate to a friend or colleague. 10 and 9 responses indicate Promoters, 8 and 7 responses are Passives and 0 through 6 are Detractors. NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters.

Net Promoter, NPS and Net Promoter Score are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, and Fred Reichheld

Mobile Users Speak: Unlimited Data vs. Giga-budgeting

Does your data run low? Do you guard it on the go? Do you track it with an app or budget like a pro?

Conveniently fitting my rhyme, nearly half of Mobile Users would simply say “No!”

47.2% admit they do not actively track their data usage (50% of Verizon customers and 43.7% of AT&T customers say the same). For those Mobile Users who do watch how much data they use to post social updates, check their email, listen to music and “draw something” for friends, the top activity to manage data is an upgrade! Other consumers with tighter wallets turn off data throughout the day, budget data usage and cut out certain activities that use up too many gigs:

1 in 10 Verizon customers also download an app to watch how close they come to their data limit. 8.7% of AT&T customers say they have switched providers to increase their available data.

It’s clear Mobile Users don’t want wireless companies to do away with unlimited data plans: 80.4% would rather pay a flat rate for data each month, regardless of how much they use while 19.6% prefer to pay per GB used. (I fall into that 1 in 5…paying for 4 GB of data each month and using about 0.5 GB is a little disheartening.)

At the moment, the majority of Mobile Users (66.9%) say they have unlimited data plans. More Mobile Users on Team Verizon (72.4%) have these unrestricted plans while 52.4% of AT&T customers say the same.

Concern over data usage certainly isn’t stopping mobile users from browsing the web on their smartphones or tablets. Most prefer to use their device to access Google and Facebook while others say they ONLY use their device to access email or conduct a browser search—no need for a laptop or desktop for these mobile-savvy consumers!

Source: Prosper Mobile Insights™ Mobile Survey, July 2012, N = 326

© 2012, Prosper®

Talking to Text – Harmless or Hindering for Drivers?

June 8, 2012 1 comment

Last month we explored the idea of voice activation on mobile devices and found many smartphone and tablet owners use this feature for directions (55.2% regularly or occasionally ask for navigation help). I know I’ve done this while driving, speaking the name of the place I am looking for so I can get turn by turn instructions. I’ve also been guilty of talking to text while driving. With many states like Ohio looking to pass laws regulating the use of electronic devices while driving* (not just texting, which is already a no-no in 39 states), we wanted to know if Americans thought speaking to a device was any safer than using hands-on methods, or if voice commands were just as distracting.

The majority of Americans say it is slightly or much less dangerous to talk to a device instead of engaging in traditional hands-on activities while driving. However, 1 in 4 believes voice capabilities like talking to text bring with them the same amount of danger as talking with your fingertips:

While the different generations (Gen Y, Gen X, Boomers and Silent Generations) agree on the perceived level of danger, these age groups disagree on what specific mobile activities should be banned by law. The majority say hands on activities (texting, hands on phone calls, browsing the web, playing games, etc.) should be illegal, but older generations are most likely to also want to ban hands-free activities like talking to text. Those in Generations X and Y on the other hand, are less likely to be willing to give up talking to text, asking for directions or using other voice commands.

Perhaps members of Gen X and Gen Y are more accustomed to multitasking and technological gadgets in general while older generations are more likely to see these devices as potential distractions.

The late Ray Bradbury wrote in his novel Dandelion Wine:

Every time man and machine look like they will get on all right –boom! Someone adds a cog, airplanes drop bombs on us, cars run us off cliffs.

He may not have been able to predict how dangerous texting while driving can be (or playing Words with Friends—sadly, I’ve seen this), but he warned his readers 50+ years ago of the dangers and diversions technology can create.


*In Ohio, a law will soon take effect banning those under 18 from using ANY sort of handheld electronic device for ANYTHING. Drivers have to be pulled over first, so luckily adults like myself who look like highschoolers won’t be pulled over when making phone calls or checking a GPS :)


Source: American Pulse™ Survey, MAY-12 #2

© 2012, Prosper®

American Pulse™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development.

Mobile Users Speak…to their devices!

May 29, 2012 3 comments

Do you ever find yourself driving down the highway, asking your smartphone for directions to a restaurant or a friend’s house? 3 in 4 Mobile Users say they utilize at least some form of voice activation on their smartphones or tablets, for a variety of uses from commands (“Call Mom”) to personal assistants (“Siri, what restaurants are nearby?”), according to the latest mobile survey from Prosper Mobile Insights.

The most popular voice features are Internet searches and directions. Nearly 1 in 3 (32.0%) regularly speaks to a device to search the Web and another 20.7% ask their smartphone or tablet for directions. 14.6% say they regularly talk to text, 12.8% utilize personal assistants and 11.6% use voice commands often:

Among the 74.4% who use voice activation at least occasionally, most (63.1%) are somewhat or very satisfied with the voice capabilities on their mobile devices. However, about a fourth of this group (23.8%) is neutral—they are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. Perhaps these folks just haven’t used voice activation to the fullest? Maybe they’ve read too many autocorrect mishaps? Or maybe other smartphone and tablet features are just more alluring. Mobile Users say texting, Internet access, calling and email are the top features they can’t live without, along with GPS and of course, apps.

Even more insights are available on your tablet via the Prosper Mobile InsightCenter. You can install the app on your iPad or download to your Android™ tablet. No tablet? No problem! View the InsightCenter online here.

Android™ is a trademark of Google, Inc.

Source: Prosper Mobile Insights™ Mobile Survey, April 2012, N=328

© 2012, Prosper®

Battle of the Sexes: Keeping Up with the (Mobile) Joneses

When you buy a new smartphone or tablet, do you get excited about having the latest and greatest gadget on the market? Does that excitement fade after about a month when the next “latest and greatest” hits the shelves? You are not alone!

Overall, about 1 in 5 Mobile Users (19.4%) simply have to have a new product or upgrade when it is made available. 23.2% of men say they go out and get it these new products right away while women (15.9%) are less likely to feel the impulse:

I agree with the ladies on this one—I’d rather save my money and enjoy other parts of my life that don’t involve being glued to a gadget. It appears as though the most popular option when a new product is available is to wait for prices to drop before jumping on the mobile bandwagon.

Perhaps because men are more likely to buy the newest tech products as soon as possible, they are also less likely than women to find it difficult to stay up to date with technology upgrades. 42.3% of women somewhat/strongly agree that it is hard to keep up with new and changing technology devices vs. 37.2% of men:

I’m going to have to side with the fellas on this one, mostly because I don’t bother to try to keep up!

For more insights on mobile users, including how smartphones and tablets are used on vacation, check out our latest press release: Top Ways Mobile Users Stay “Connected” on Vacation: Personal Email, GPS & Keeping in Touch, According to Latest Mobile Survey.

Even more insights are available on your tablet via the Prosper Mobile InsightCenter. You can install the app on your iPad or download to your Android™ tablet. No tablet? No problem! View the InsightCenter online here.

Android™ is a trademark of Google, Inc.

Source: Prosper Mobile Insights™ Mobile Survey, March 2012, N=346

© 2012, Prosper®

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