WASHINGTON, DC, Sep 5, 2006/ FW/ — More popular than ever, denim has evolved from a simple wardrobe staple to a statement of personal style for many of today’s Gen Y shoppers.
A recent survey on how Gen Y feels about denim, conducted for the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association (RAMA) by SLANT, found that today’s younger consumers have their own ideas about what brands are popular and where to find them.
According to the survey, 7 For All Mankind is the top denim brand for Gen Y consumers aged 17-26. Other popular denim brands among this group include Diesel, Levis, Lucky, and Gap
“Through television, movies and celebrity magazines, Gen Y consumers are more educated than ever about the hottest brands of jeans and the most popular styles,” said RAMA Executive Director Mike Gatti. “Many of today’s Gen Y shoppers see their favorite celebrity in a certain brand of jeans and will head out to purchase the same pair.”
The top 10 denim brands according to the RAMA survey is as follows:
1. 7 For All Mankind
6. Citizens of Humanity
7. Old Navy
8. American Eagle
According to the survey, 41 percent of those polled typically spend more than $100 on each denim purchase. Nearly one in three (30.9%) spend between $50 and $99, while more than a quarter (28.2%) spend less than $50 on a pair of jeans.
When it comes to purchasing denim, women are willing to spend a little more for their favorite brands. The majority of females (68.4%) age 17-26 typically spend between $50 and $150 on jeans, though more than one in ten (12.5%) will spend upward of $150. Men, on the other hand, prefer to spend less on their denim choices, with nearly half (41.3%) of those polled typically spending less than $50 and one in four (26.1%) spending between $50 and $99.
“It is not uncommon for Gen Y to pair $150 jeans with a $15 vintage tee,” said Meredith Belloli, President of SLANT, a Gen Y promotions agency. “It’s not so much that Gen Y has a huge disposable income, it’s that they think jeans are worth the investment.”
Nearly half (41.8%) of Gen Y consumers say they head to their favorite brand-specific retail store, such as Gap or Old Navy, to purchase jeans. Other popular spots to scoop up the hottest in denim include department stores (29.1%), boutiques (7.3%) and discount stores (6.4%).
Targeting Gen Y: The Retail Challenge
Retailers are finding it challenging to capture the attention of today’s Gen Y consumers because members of Gen Y tend to be both social and spontaneous. For example, according to a RAMA analysis of BIGresearch’s Simultaneous Media Usage (SIMM) database, members of Gen Y are more likely than older adults to play team sports, go to a bar or nightclub, see a movie, visit an amusement park, surf the internet, and socialize with friends.
They are also likely to engage in a variety of media at one time, meaning that it can be impossible for retailers and other companies to completely get their attention. According to the survey, 34 percent of the Gen Y’ers polled said that they are regularly watching TV when they browse online. And with many visiting websites such as MySpace (15.9%) and IGN.com (9.6%) regularly for fun and entertainment, both celebrities and Gen Y’s peers are influencing their shopping decisions more than ever.
The survey found that close to all of consumers ages 17-26 regularly or occasionally either seek (89.4%) or give advice (93.5%) to others before buying. And with 40 percent of those polled saying that word of mouth influences their apparel purchases, retailers can find no better marketers than the consumers themselves, a dilemma that presents both a blessing and a curse. Members of Gen Y use the Internet for everything from reading the news to downloading music. One specific challenge for retailers is that three fourths (74.4%) of these consumers spend their free time surfing the web, while only 47.4 percent use that time to go out shopping. Of those polled, 68 percent said that they regularly or occasionally search online for clothing (56.8% reported using Google as their primary search engine) and one in five (20.3%) say they allow Internet advertising to influence their apparel purchases.
“The Internet has become a major influence on young shoppers’ decisions,” said Phil Rist, Vice President of Strategy for BIGresearch. “With Gen Y’ers regularly surfing everything from celebrity blogs to their favorite clothing websites, retailers have a huge window of opportunity to reach their target consumers through the Web.”
When Gen Y’ers decide to hit the stores, specialty stores ring in as their retail destination of choice. For women’s clothing, one in eight (13.5%) responded that they most often visit specialty stores when shopping for women’s clothing, followed by discount stores (8.9%) and department stores (8.5%). The same rang true for men’s clothing as well, with 13.4% of respondents saying that they most often shopped for men’s clothing at specialty apparel stores, 11.3 percent at discount stores and 11.1 percent at department stores.