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The Accenture Luxury Shopping Survey: Insights for the Holidays and Beyond

BY CSA STAFF

By Raymond Florio, [email protected]

Although fiscal cliff concerns, economic sluggishness and a massive hurricane may have dampened holiday sales, some sectors — luxury items particularly — could be looking good well into 2013. This upbeat outlook comes from the latest Accenture Luxury Shopping Survey, which examined the shopping behaviors and expectations of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers. Results show that roughly half of all survey respondents plan to make a luxury purchase in apparel, personal care or specialty food & drink in the coming months.

But despite these optimistic projections, the road ahead may still be challenging for luxury retailers. One reason is that, according to our survey, most luxury buyers don’t seem interested in projecting an overall image or creating an enduring style. In the apparel realm, 57% said they’re looking to incorporate just a few luxury items into a wardrobe that is predominantly composed of more-affordable pieces.

For most shoppers, luxury is dessert — not a full meal. Fortunately, apparel and accessories retailers can still capture the sporadic luxury buyer by offering an appropriate selection of smaller-ticket luxury items to complement their high-end items. For example, a retailer of premium accessories and leather goods may find that its customers are thinking twice about splurging on a designer handbag; but they’ll happily consider a high-quality wallet instead.

Another cause for concern is that brands may be less able to count on their name. According to the study, buyers are placing an increasingly high premium on quality. In fact, 75% of respondents cited quality as one of their most important considerations when purchasing luxury items. Only 25% said the same thing about brand. The bottom line here is that, as consumers begin to ratchet up their spending, purveyors of luxury goods must ensure that the quality and value of their products match the expectations set by the price tags. Otherwise, retailers risk losing customers to another luxury brand, or even to a non-luxury one.

In addition to knowing what luxury items people are buying and why, retailers need to pay careful attention to where and how people shop. In each of the three categories Accenture studied (apparel, personal care and specialty food & drink), consumers indicated a strong preference for going to brick-and-mortar stores when shopping for luxury goods.

The top reason for this was the ability to touch and feel the products (selected by 49%); whereas the top reason for choosing an online retailer was the ability to find the best deal (selected by 37%). In the luxury apparel category, 58% picked department stores as their preferred venue, compared with only 29% who prefer a department store’s website and 36% prefer online-only retailers.

Physical stores also beat online shopping for luxury personal care products: Forty-four percent of shoppers in this category prefer drug stores and 40% favor department stores. Only 22% said they were partial to online-only retailers.

In-person shopping may be good news for brick-and-mortar retailers. However, Accenture’s research also revealed a sharp increase in luxury “showrooming:” viewing and experiencing an item in-person and then looking for the best deal and buying it online. Showrooming is hardly a new behavior, but it has become increasingly popular as smartphones become pervasive and additional daily-deal and member-shopping sites offer luxury products at a discount.

More and more, customers have the best price at their fingertips — and it may not be attached to the product that they’re standing in front of. In fact, one out of every five survey respondents said they showroom. When asked why they did so, most successfully searched different websites and found a better price. Nearly 40% noted the importance of “finding more product options online.” Others said they disliked the feeling of being rushed in the store and wanted to take their time at home.

At least two lessons are implied by this finding. One is the need to attend diligently, but not oppressively, to in-person buyers and to consider the “spread” between your in-store price and your online price. Second, luxury brands and retailers have made great progress towards improving their online storefronts, but it may be possible that their online improvements have dulled the special nature of the in-store buying experience.

Lastly, retailers need to acknowledge that traditional conceptions of a luxury buyer’s age may be outdated. It’s still true that, on average, older consumers have more disposable income. But look at what age groups are planning to purchase luxury items in the next 12 months according to the survey: 40% of 18-24 year olds; 14% of 45-54 year olds; 15% of 55-64 year olds; and 9% of those 65 and older. Forty percent of Baby Boomers said their inclination to purchase luxury goods has dropped in the past year. True, younger shoppers may have less buying power per capita, but they could make up in volume what they lack in net worth.

None of these findings reduce the need for luxury retailers to continue asking themselves the quintessential question: “What is the advantage of buying from me?” If consumers can’t readily deduce the answer, there’s a good chance that online price-comparison engines, public customer reviews, blogs, barcode scanners, shopping apps and other retailers will make the decision for them. More than ever, thoughtful, seamless strategies and savvy marketing are needed to guide your sleigh through and beyond the holidays.

Raymond Florio is a member of the leadership team of Accenture’s pricing & profit optimization practice. He has helped numerous Fortune 500 companies improve their ability to develop, market, price, and sell their products. Prior to joining Accenture, Ray worked in venture capital, assisting with the development of new business plans and venture designs. He can be reached at [email protected].


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Top 10 Stores of 2012

BY CSA STAFF

1. Baby & Child, Santa Monica, Calif.
A brand new concept from Restoration Hardware, Baby & Child offers a hip, modern take on upscale children’s’ home furnishings. With its taupe tones and sophisticated stylings, this new format is far removed from the pastel, whimsical universe of Pottery Barn Kids and most other kids’ stores. Read More

2. IT’SUGAR, Las Vegas
Colorful, candy-themed IT’SUGAR is the largest candy store in Las Vegas. Read More

3. Li Ning, Beijing
Chinese sports powerhouse Li Ning’s Beijing flagship celebrates motion with a bold, contemporary design. Read More

4. Loblaw, Toronto
Canada’s leading supermarket operator, Lobaw Cos. Ltd., has transformed the famed Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto into a must-see retail destination. The 85,000-sq.-ft. supermarket combines a strong urban design with homage to the history of the Gardens. Read More

5. Neiman Marcus, Walnut Creek, Calif.
Neiman Marcus took full advantage of its Northern California locale in the design of its store in Walnut Creek, Calif. The interior finishes and materials draw from the rich colors of the surrounding landscape, and the space takes advantage of the famed California sunshine. Read More

6. Primark, London
Value fashion retailer Primark’s new flagship on Oxford Street (at Tottenham Court Road) spans some 82,300 sq. ft. over four floors. Designed by Dalziel & Pow, London, the store has a bold, modern look, complete with a faux tube station, a massive LED screen and colorful graphics. Read More

7. Spanx, McLean, Va.
Shapewear and hosiery marketer Spanx opened its first-ever freestanding location, in Tyson’s Corner Center, McLean, Va. The 1,200-sq.-ft. store is stylish and chic, with a fun, upbeat, feel that captures the spirit and personality of the brand.
Read More

8. Starbucks, Amsterdam
Located underground in the vault of an historic old bank and landmark, the space boasts its own in-store bakery as well as a stage for live music and poetry. Read More

9. Superdry, New York City
British fashion retailer Superdry has opened its largest North American store to date, a 14,000-sq.-ft. flagship in Times Square. Read More

10. ZARA, New York City
Spanish fast-fashion retailer Zara opened its largest U.S. store to date, a 32,000-sq.-ft. flagship on Fifth Avenue. Read More


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New brand to debut at Banana Republic

BY CSA STAFF

Shoppers looking for apparel inspired by the summer sophistication of the Hamptons will want to head to the Banana Republic this spring.

The Banana Republic division of Gap has teamed up with designer Michelle Smith to introduce a 60 piece collection of her signature Milly brand that includes women’s apparel and Smith’s first foray into the menswear category. Beginning in May, the products will be available in an unidentified number of Banana Republic’s 600 stores and online. The products will be featured in June promotional materials.

According to the company, the Milly products marry the iconic Banana Republic sense of modern style with Milly’s signature vintage-inspired prints and patterns for a collection that feels equal parts sophisticated and playful. The collection includes pieces for women and men, such as feminine silhouettes in splashes of neon for her and tailored separates in bold prints for him.  

"We wanted to focus on the vibrant colors and optimistic patterns that highlight the inspiring, fun-loving summer season," said Banana Republic creative director and design EVP Simon Kneen. "Michelle’s keen sense of color, print and pattern are the perfect complement to Banana Republic, and her Hamptons-chic style is a new take on aspirational summer dressing for our consumers."

The women’s and men’s apparel and accessories features original designs that incorporate a new print created exclusively for the collection as well as updated versions of six of the Milly brand’s more familiar prints.

Women’s pieces range from maxi dresses, mini-skirts, and shorts in a rainbow of on-trend colors, including lime, coral, and navy, to versatile poolside totes and summer scarves. The menswear collection features a lineup of striped and patterned separates, including bright polos, woven tees and shorts. Apparel pieces range in price from $45 to $175 for women and $24.50 to $64.50 for men with jewelry and accessory pieces ranging in price from $39.50 to $130.

"I’ve always been a fan of Banana Republic, and when I met Simon (Kneen) we had an immediate and lasting connection," said Milly designer and founder Michelle Smith. "This was my first experience designing menswear, which was a cinch with Simon’s expertise. It’s a very positive, happy collection and I think the colors and patterns really capture the modern spirit of summer."

Smith created the brand in 2001.

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