Taking a Multidimensional Approach in Today's Apparel Sector Taking a Multidimensional Approach in Today's Apparel Sector

Winning in today’s apparel sector requires a multidimensional approach in which age is just one of many factors in determining who apparel shoppers really are.

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For several years, apparel brands and retailers have focused largely on Millennials—the 18 to 34 year olds with smartphones, money to spend, and few ties that bind. Millennials number 83.1 million, which is one-quarter of the US population, and represent 38 percent of total spending in US apparel sales.

Retailers, however, tend to think of the Millennial generation as a single bloc of buyers all of the same mind and with the same life experiences. They are not. In our recent study of the apparel purchases of three generations of shoppers—Millennials, Gen-Xers, and Baby Boomers—we confirm that while age is a factor to consider in apparel sales, it is not the only one. Life stage, lifestyle, and attitude toward fashion are as important attributes to consider about today’s apparel shopper, and can predict behavior in more accurate ways than age.

With a 4 percent downturn in department store apparel sales performance and 2 percent growth in total US apparel sales, retailers and apparel brands are searching for smarter strategies to connect with more shoppers.

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