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3 Reasons Why Women Shop | WMI

10 Aug 2015 Ann D'Adamo

in Fashion, Industry News


Understanding Why She Buys: 3 Reasons Women Shop for Apparel

New research reports 73% of the women surveyed said they purchased up to one quarter of the items in their closets in the past three months. That’s a lot of shopping! While it’s not groundbreaking news that many women enjoy shopping for clothes, the Alliance Data Retail Services report helps give a richer picture of the motivations behind the path-to-purchase for each type of shopping experience. “Understanding why women shop, what they care about, is the first step in securing their business,” says Andrea Van Dam, CEO of Women’s Marketing. “Fashion marketers have a better chance of success when connect with their needs and desires at each touchpoint,” Van Dam continues.

Here are some of the key motivators we see moving women as they choose clothing for themselves and their families.

Impulse Purchase

Nearly one in three apparel purchases are made on the spot, with special offers and discounts being the motivating factors. “Sale items are often viewed as great deals that are too good to pass up,” says Van Dam. “This taps into her emotional desire for quality products at a lower price,” she explains. The path-to-purchase for impulse purchases is short—and marketers have an opportunity to appeal to women when they are engaging with their favorite brands. Since these purchases often occur in-store, brands need to communicate with her at the moment of discovery. Apps that deliver location-based coupons or websites that serve customized content based on prior shopping patterns may offer the incentive that she needs to buy.

Need-Based Purchase

Need-based purchases often center on replacing a worn out or out-of-date item. Although most need-based purchases occur in-store, online shopping is catching up. Shopping surveys found that when planning to buy an item they need, such as a new coat, women extensively research and comparison shop online before purchasing. The purchase funnel often begins with product searches across multiple websites, reading product reviews and comparing prices, and soliciting opinions of trusted influencers. “Here, omnichannel approaches are mandatory for success—search functionality, easily navigated websites, curated content, user reviews, and strategic social communication during seasonal shopping periods is key to engaging the need-based shopper,” offers Van Dam.


A third of women say they buy clothing as a treat or reward for themselves. This number rises to 40% among women 18-24, and 42% among women 35-44. Self-gifting offers a rich area for marketers to appeal to women on an emotional level. “Many women view the retail shopping experience as ‘me time’ and tap into the sensory aspects of trying on clothing and the pleasure of treating oneself with a wardrobe update,” explains Van Dam. “Driving in-store visits with messages that appeal to the emotional aspects of shopping, self-worth, and pleasure during key shopping periods is essential to driving self-gifting purchases,” she advises.

To survive in today’s retail merchandising landscape, marketers must combine visionary thinking with technology. Understanding her motivations when shopping for apparel helps retailers to more easily target consumers and reach a successful sale. Contact Women’s Marketing to understand the path-to-purchase for your industry and learn how smart brands succeed.

Sources: Alliance Data Retail Services Closet Confidential Survey, Mintel Women’s Clothing US May 2015


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