Are clothing retailers shifting marketing focus to men?
Over the generations, researchers have found many differences in the ways men and women use their brains – that should come as a surprise to nobody. And this research has naturally been a boon to marketeers, who have been able to adjust advertising messages, shop layouts and types of customer service to fit different types of customer.
Men have been shown to be efficient shoppers, fast decision-makers, who know what they want when going into a shop. They rarely take an interest in comparing prices, and hate leaving empty-handed. As such, many retailers have tended to focus more on practicalities such as improving payment processes rather than emphasising how a man might look in a particular outfit, but that’s changing. Men are starting to become more discriminating about their clothing choices, and retailers are adjusting accordingly.
In Canada, workwear such as tailored suits and office casual clothing is responsible for around 50% of apparel retail sales, and the most significant growth in recent years has been in the men’s market.
In the UK, sales of men’s clothing increased by £1.3 billion between 2008 and 2013, a substantial portion of which will also be workwear. The ease of looking good through shopping online as demonstrated by this Dobell formalwear (and avoiding going into physical shops, something many men notoriously dread), a proliferation of men’s style blogs – coupled with an interest in fitness – are all contributing to sales growth in menswear in American markets, where some women’s brands are beginning to target male customers now as well.
As in Canada, growth in US menswear is overtaking that in womenswear, up 5% year-on-year in 2013. One analyst has said he believes that many men are now coming round to the idea that a good wardrobe can lead to a better social life. European clothing brands such as Moschino, and British brands including Whistles, are now training their marketing weapons on men, or expanding their current men’s lines. Clearly then, whether operating in the UK, North America, or Europe, opportunities are apparent for mid-priced retailers aiming at customers who are prepared to submit their own measurements and wait for delivery.
In the past, men have often been characterised as reluctant shoppers, sometimes preferring to let their partners pick out clothes for them, and when forced to do it themselves, ducking in and out of shops as quickly as possible, happy so long as they’ve found something that is functional and comfortable.
The man of today, though, takes much more of an interest in fashion, in brand names, in the quality, materials and fit of clothing, and is not ashamed of doing so either. Celebrity influence, particularly athletes, is partly responsible. One only needs to look at David Beckham to see how much athletes can inspire the man on the street.
The key behind many brands’ thinking seems to be that men tend to be loyal customers. Once they have found a brand that they like and trust, the theory goes, men will usually stick with it, at least for a while. That means that getting in on the ground floor as men become more style-aware is essential.
And the trick to doing so? Womenswear brands hoping to entice more men into shopping with them are experimenting with various tactics, such as men only shops or sections both online and offline, and ways of making guys more relaxed as they browse the aisles.
Some high-end retailers are introducing everything from club-style lighting to cocktail bars!
Will this be a virtuous circle, with increased spend by brands on marketing to men resulting in more men becoming interested in the way they look? Almost certainly, and we can probably expect growth in menswear sales to continue into 2016 and beyond, especially online.