Market Force Survey Reveals Consumers Trying More Retailers in 2011

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Study Sheds Light on Factors Driving New Trials, Fashion Spending Trends

The fact that consumers are trying new retailers is good news for brands in this economy,” said Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force. “It shows that retailers are getting more effective at drawing new consumers into their doors.

In spite of the shaky economic news overseas, fashion retailers in the U.S. have at least one reason for optimism. Consumers are trying new brands at a higher rate this year, and buying more when they do. More than twice as many consumers visited a new fashion retailer for the first time than during the same timeframe in 2010, according to an annual consumer survey conducted by Market Force, a worldwide leader in customer intelligence solutions. Thirty-two percent of consumers surveyed in October reported trying a new fashion retailer over the past 90 days, up from 14% in 2010.

Kohl’s received the most new trials by consumers this fall, followed by Abercrombie & Fitch and H&M. But new trial is heavily influenced by the proximity of stores to consumers; so larger brands will tend to dominate. Market Force wanted to find out which retailers received the most new trials per store so it indexed the results by store count. When indexed, H&M convinced the largest number of consumers to visit one of their stores for the first time, followed by Nordstrom, Anthropologie, White House/Black Market and Coldwater Creek. Of those surveyed who tried a fashion retailer for the first time, 75% said they made a purchase during that visit, up from 59% in 2010, which could signal a return in consumer confidence. See Graph 1.

The survey of nearly 7,000 consumers across North America revealed that consumers were most likely to try a new retailer when shopping for casual clothing (71.3%) and business attire (22.8%).

“The fact that consumers are trying new retailers is good news for brands in this economy,” said Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force. “It shows that retailers are getting more effective at drawing new consumers into their doors.And our data shows that one of the best ways to do that is to consistenly delight those customers with great service and good merchandise selection.”

Store Recommendations – That’s What Friends Are For
A friend’s stamp of approval wields significant influence in the decision to walk into a new retailer. The survey found that recommendations from friends are the top impetus for consumers to try a new store, followed by “just an impulse to go shopping.” Really great sales, promotions and discounts, and the inability to resist an item they love were other factors that weighed heavily in consumers’ new store trials. See Graph 2. The reasons given for not making purchases at a new retailer were high prices or the inability to find sale items.

The Social Media Factor
The study also showed that consumers use online research extensively before shopping, but manage online relationships with retailers carefully. For example, the majority (73%) said they research prices online before they head to the store, and one-third turns to social media for information about fashion retailers or clothing brands. However, few follow retailers on Twitter (7%, up from 2% in 2010) or friend them on Facebook (38%). And social media advertising plays a very small role in influencing consumers to try new retailers. So, while consumers acknowledge that social media is highly influential in their shopping choices, it appears that conversations with friends are much more impactful than the social content pushed by the retailer.

Social media does appear to be playing a larger role in their online research. In Market Force’s 2010 retail survey, one in 10 respondents said they had read an online post or blog about a specific retailer or brand of clothing. That number jumped to 37% in 2011. Additionally, 7% of consumers in this year’s survey had blogged or created an online post about a specific retailer or brand of clothing.

Spend Trends
Not surprisingly, consumers continue to be conscious of spending this year. Most consumers (74%) reported spending an average of less than $100 per month on clothing, while one-quarter said they spend up to $250 every month, similar percentages were found in the study a year ago. See Graph 3.

Market Force conducted the fashion retail survey in October 2011. The pool of almost 7,000 survey respondents ranged in age from 18 to more than 65 and reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with three-quarters reporting incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Eighty-one percent were women, the primary household consumer purchasers. Half of the participants said they have children at home.

For more information on Market Force’s customer intelligence solutions for the retail industry, visit

About Market Force
Market Force Information Inc. is the leading global customer intelligence solutions company for multi-location businesses, including major retailers, restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, financial institutions, entertainment studios and consumer packaged goods companies. With more than 125 years of combined industry experience, Market Force Information has pioneered the industry with a suite of customer intelligence solutions – from 600,000 field associates across North America and Europe who conduct mystery shopping, merchandising and retail auditing, to real customer surveys and proprietary decision-support tools. Its solutions provide a holistic view of the customer's on-site experience and identify the actions required at the store level to increase customer loyalty and improve financial performance. For more information, visit


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Rebecca Scanlan
GroundFloor Media
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