Consumers Select Nordstrom as Favorite Business-Wear Retailer in 2010 and Kohl’s is Top Pick for Casual Wear

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Market Force Information study also reveals what consumers like best about retail clothing chains.

Nordstrom wins the consumer nod for business attire, while Kohl’s wins overwhelmingly in the casual category with strong scores all around

Nordstrom is the consumer-favorite retailer for business attire and Kohl’s is their favorite retailer for casual clothing, according to a survey conducted last month by Market Force Information, a leader in customer intelligence solutions. More than 7,000 consumers provided their input, choosing their favorite retailer from almost 90 national and regional retailer chains. Macy’s was a very close second in the business attire segment, followed by Kohl’s and Dillard’s. In the casual retailer category, J.C. Penney was the second favorite chain, while Macy’s and Old Navy tied for third.

The findings emerged from a survey Market Force conducted among its network of 300,000 independent mystery shoppers and merchandisers – consumers across the country dubbed “The Force™” by Market Force Information.

Consumers were asked to select their single favorite retailer for business wear and favorite for casual wear from a list of the country’s 88 top retailers.* Kohl’s received the highest number of votes in both categories – 15% for business wear and 18% for casual wear.

But not all chains are created equal. While Kohl’s has more than 1,000 locations, stores such as Nordstrom, Ann Taylor and Dillard’s are much less geographically penetrated, with a fraction of the stores that other major retailers operate. Since consumers are likely to vote only for retailers they are familiar with, Market Force wanted to see which chains would win out when the number of stores was considered – in short, which ones would win “more than their share” of votes when compared to larger chains. When this component was factored in, Nordstrom took the top spot on the business fashion retailer list with 11.8%, followed closely by Macy’s with 11.5%. Kohl’s was also a close third, with 10.8%. Dillard’s was fourth, J.C. Penney was fifth and Ann Taylor was sixth, with 9.6%, 9.0% and 7.3%, respectively.

Customer Service and the Store Environment Were Nordstrom’s Strong Suits
Consumers were also asked to rate the business-fashion retailers by the characteristics that they appreciate most, and Nordstrom dominated in areas such as atmosphere, exceptional customer service, dressing rooms and easy returns. It was not ranked highly based on the prices it offers, a category where Kohl’s was the clear winner. These ratings suggest that atmosphere and customer service ultimately outweigh price when business attire is concerned.

Macy’s scored high for its availability of specific designers, and ranked second behind Nordstrom for dressing rooms and ease of returns. Kohl’s did not shine in any one area, but had generally high marks across the board.

Kohl’s a Dominant Favorite for Casual Clothing
Kohl’s not only received the most votes – almost 1 in 5 consumers voted for Kohl’s out of 88 retailers – but even when Market Force indexed the casual fashion retailers by number of locations, Kohl’s was still the leader of the pack, with an index score of 26%. J.C. Penney was a somewhat distant second with 11%, and Macy’s and Old Navy were tied for third with 10% apiece.

Kohl’s Scores Well in All Key Categories, While Macy’s Designer Duds and Service Make It a Standout
Although Kohl’s took top honors in the rankings of casual clothing retailers, it did not distinguish itself in any of the eight categories. Instead, it won its top spot because it scored well across the board. Macy’s, on the other hand, stood out for its availability of clothing by specific designers, the ability of shoppers to assemble an entire outfit in one store and atmosphere. One area where Kohl’s bested Macy’s was price, leading to the presumption that, for casual clothing, price is a key driver of purchase.

“Our hats are off to these top retailers,” said Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force. “Nordstrom, with less than 200 stores nationwide, wins the consumer nod for business attire based on its customer service, ease of return and store atmosphere. Meanwhile, Kohl’s wins overwhelmingly in the casual category with strong scores for all attributes. The results point to the importance of customer service and the overall customer experience as key drivers for retailers looking to gain market share.”

The survey was conducted in October across the United States and Canada. The pool of 7,000 respondents reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with approximately 70% reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year, and a blend of ages from 19 to 70 years old. Approximately three-quarters of respondents were women, the primary household consumer purchasers and an equal percentage work full or part time. Half of the respondents have children at home and two thirds are married.

About Market Force Information
Market Force Information, Inc. is the leading global customer intelligence solutions company for business to consumer companies including major retailers, restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, financial institutions, entertainment studios and consumer packaged goods companies. Market Force Information has pioneered the industry with a suite of customer intelligence solutions that provide clients with the business intelligence they need to delight their customers and drive bottom-line results. The company measures store-level operations and customer attitudes through mystery shopping, customer feedback, market audits and merchandising services, with the analytics to drive targeted improvements. For more information, please visit: http://www.marketforce.com and follow us on Twitter @MarketForce.

*Top fashion retailers from Hoovers

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Rebecca Scanlan
GroundFloor Media for Market Force
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