Winning in Men's Apparel

Recovery from recent sales declines in the men's apparel segment will likely depend on a small group of confident shoppers aggressively following through on their stated intention to spend more in the coming months, according to Kurt Salmon Associates' most recent study of nearly 2,000 male shoppers' opinions.

KSA's July 2009 analysis of women's apparel shoppers profiled a key segment of women shoppers who will continue or increase their spending in the coming months. In looking at their male counterparts, KSA found three primary consumer groups in the category:

Confident male shoppers who spend more than $25 per month on men's apparel and will maintain or increase their spending
Cautious shoppers who spend more than $25 per month on apparel purchases but plan to spend less on men's dress and casual clothing
Reluctant shoppers who spend less than $25 per month on men's apparel

Not surprisingly, confident shoppers have declined from 44 percent of consumers two years ago to only 31 percent this past June. Furthermore, average monthly men's apparel spending has declined from $86.58 to $75.15 for this group.

  • 43 percent of the decline in men's apparel sales can be explained by lower average spending by confident shoppers
  • The remaining 57 percent can be attributed to the decrease in the number of confident shoppers

Although the mix has shifted away from confident shoppers, the group is still important. Confident shoppers will spend more across all consumer categories, not just men's apparel.

  • Similar to KSA's identified group of confident women shoppers, confident men's shoppers are more affluent, clothing brand conscious and dine out more frequently. They are also more likely to be part of a family household.

  • These consumers are more sensitive to fashion, trends and styles than sales and promotions.

Cautious shoppers are less likely to increase their spending and rebound back to "confident" status due to their substantial credit card debt.

Recovery will likely depend on average monthly spend for confident shoppers' returning to previous levels as opposed to a substantial shift back to the confident shopper group, making the current confident shopper group even more important for retailers and brands to target in the coming months.

Todd Hooper is a retail strategist at consulting firm Kurt Salmon Associates.
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