UK menswear has huge opportunity at all prices, especially online - report
The UK menswear sector has been growing for some time and that trend is expected to continue for the next four years, according to the latest report from digital analytics consultancy agency Onefourzero. It sees massive potential at the high-end and in fast fashion, while online is ripe for exploitation if companies can get both the product and the service offer right.
The researchers looked at web searches and social media to get a handle on customer sentiment and found that the trend for menswear-related terms has shown an increase of over a third since 2015, excepting seasonal peaks (though these are notably rising too). Even the New Year’s demand dips that fashion usually sees are less marked for menswear and the category has enjoyed a “general growth trajectory, with interest never falling back to its lowest 2015 levels of around 500,000 searches per month”. And around Christmas 2017, searches peaked at over 1.4 million, a nearly 300% increase. By contrast, search demand for womenswear terms has remained stable.
Can we rely on the data though given that it’s derived from search and social media rather than actual sales numbers? Well, as Google is the search destination of choice for most consumers and that 81% of shoppers research products online before buying, Onefourzero said Google’s data is “a reliable proxy for growing markets, and can indicate changes in consumer preferences and behaviour.”
The agency said the results help to confirm a GlobalData prediction that, by 2022, menswear will be the fastest growing clothing sub-sector, outperforming womenswear by 5.8%.
The company also found that celebrities and online influencers have a big impact on this sector, citing searches for waistcoats increasing by over 100 times after Gareth Southgate appeared wearing one regularly during the World Cup.
It looked at a variety of brands within the sector, ranging from high street brands such as Topman and Ben Sherman to online pureplay newcomers such as BoohooMan and Asos, plus established high-ends such as Hugo Boss and Burberry. And it saw that those brands that are succeeding “have responded to changing audience demands across range, price, shopping channel and size availability. They are investing in online and offline, never alienating their audiences and embracing new technology to pull more people into the purchase funnel – be it marketing or direct sales.”
WHY MENSWEAR IS GROWING
To drill down into exactly why demand for menswear is increasing, the company used its social listening tools to analyse online conversations relating to the sector and found development both in consumer attitudes and the way companies are marketing the category.
It said that since 2015, the UK’s online menswear market has been growing significantly, and this has come along with a “significant shift in the attitudes to men’s fashion, as brands use similar marketing techniques to those long used in womenswear.”
It added: “There are increased societal pressures upon people to look, dress and appear a certain way; the influence of celebrities is huge; it’s easier than ever to shop, thanks to the growing online retail sector. All of these factors have combined to assist the growing interest and demand in menswear. Men, especially millennials, are now buying clothing more frequently and taking more interest in fashion and style than ever before.
“The results of this analysis reveal the direction that British menswear is taking, demonstrating the breadth of opportunities the sector holds, from budget fashion to high-end.”
The results are supported by other market research such as that mentioned earlier from GlobalData, which predicts that menswear will be the fastest growing clothing sub-sector by 2022, with growth of 21.2%, easily beating womenswear expansion.
And online will be key. The report cited research that said online fast fashion has surged in recent years and the e-tail clothing market is forecast to grow by 55.3% by 2022, accounting for 34.2% of the market, up from 13.5% in 2012.
According to the same research, 27.4% of all online clothing shoppers have used click & collect as a delivery option while only 19.7% of men have, compared to almost one third of female online clothing shoppers. That offers huge potential to make the online shopping journey easier and more attractive for men.
Onefourzero said that while high street retailers such as Topman do have an online presence, there is a lack of competition in the online-only menswear sector, particularly in terms of casual clothes, which fast fashion retailers often focus on and demand for which is growing fast.
Some online-only brands are making the most of this. Onefourzero said that online brands are well perceived by consumers, attracting higher positive sentiment than popular high street stores that still struggle to secure a space in the online world.
That’s why launches such as BoohooMan have so much potential. The researchers said that Boohoo has paid plenty of attention to getting its menswear offer right and this has meant that since its launch in March 2016, only 4% of online sentiment towards BoohooMan has been negative. This analysis considered over 127,550 posts, so customers seem satisfied with the services and products, with hardly any online complains.
But it’s not only at the lower end of the price scale that growth has been seen. Onefourzero said that globally, the luxury menswear sector has grown consistently, reaching almost 14% year-on-year. Searches in the UK for ‘men’s designer clothes’ have been growing steadily since 2015.
“This consistent growth suggests the sub-sector is in good health and will continue to grow at a similar, if not better, rate over the coming years,” it added. “The increased interest in luxury menswear is not a passing trend, but due to a shift in lifestyle perspective where men are now more open to spending extra money on their appearance.
“Fashion boutiques are no longer the domain of women. Instead, designer brands like Burberry now receive high proportions of male traffic to their websites.”
Indeed, it said that over 50% of visitors to the high-end Folk and Barbour websites were male as of August. “It seems the menswear sector now has an increased focus on quality, evidenced by, for example, the huge rise in searches for ‘best men’s brands’ between 2015 and 2018,” the report said.
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