SOURCE: Unity Marketing

May 24, 2010 10:51 ET

New Unity Marketing Survey Gives Fashion Brands a New Perspective on Their High-Income Customers

Luxury Fashion Customers Rate Their Favorite Fashion Brands; New Report Reveals Ways Fashion Brands Can Connect More Effectively With Their Affluent Customers

STEVENS, PA--(Marketwire - May 24, 2010) -  No longer is high quality and good value for the price what it takes to be a top fashion brand, according to a new study entitled The Luxury Fashion Consumer & their Favorite Fashion Brands.  Today the most important measure of excellence in a fashion brand is that it be a good investment. (

"This gives the phrase 'investment dressing' a whole new meaning," says Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing and lead researcher in the new fashion brand study based upon a survey among 1,245 affluent fashion consumers. "The concept of investment implies that the purchaser gets a return on what they spend. Luxury consumers expect their fashion brands to deliver a return on their investment in the form of timelessness, sophistication and distinction, according to the survey results."

Unity Marketing has just released a new trend report, The Luxury Fashion Consumer & their Favorite Fashion Brands, that examines fashion shopping behavior and the top fashion brands among luxury consumers. Specifically fashion customers rated their favorite brand out of the 11 most widely purchased fashion brands among all affluents in Unity Marketing's 2009 Luxury Tracking surveys. (

Not a survey of luxury fashion brands, but of fashion brands most often purchased by luxury consumers

The fashion brands rated in this new study by brand loyalists were:

  • Ann Taylor
  • Anne Klein
  • Armani
  • Brooks Brothers
  • Calvin Klein
  • Coach
  • Gucci
  • Liz Claiborne
  • Michael Kors
  • Ralph Lauren
  • Talbots

Danziger explains, "We took a totally new look at fashion brands among highly affluent shoppers (avg. income $331,500). Of note, this wasn't a survey of luxury fashion brands, but of the fashion brands that are most often purchased by luxury consumers."

"Fashion shoppers who were loyal to one of these brands rated their favorite brand according to 17 measures of brand connection and 38 core brand values. The findings give fashion brands a new yardstick to measure success based upon the preferences of brand loyalists. For example, investment is more important than price/value in a fashion brand and being able to astonish and surprise their customers is more important than that the brand allows the customer to express his or her personality," she continues.

Danziger points to some surprises revealed in the new study, such as:

  • Talbots tops the list of fashion brands - Talbots' brand loyalists rate their brand tops in connecting with the consumer. It rates highest of all brands in investment and being better than the competition. It also gets top marks in honesty and integrity. "Obviously Talbots is doing lots of things right when it comes to serving their core customer. Among the brand values that Talbots delivers are timeless fashion, credibility, high quality, sophistication and trustworthiness. Other brands can learn a lesson from Talbots' ability to connect," notes Danziger.

  • Armani is rated a very close second - Armani rates first as the most luxurious brand among its brand loyalists. It also gets high marks as a brand that other people believe is strong and appealing. Armani is among the coolest brands included in the survey and one that is distinctive and first class. "Armani doesn't rate as highly as other brands on investment, but excels at being high in artistic dimension, being true to its values and paying attention to its clients," Danziger says.

  • Coach is the third most highly rated fashion brand - Coach tops the list as a fashion brand that pays attention to its clients and understands their needs. Coach is valued by its affluent customers for being well-known, high quality, recognizable and visible. Coach is a brand that gives its customers confidence that they are always in fashion. Coach is also valued because it is different from other brands.

In conclusion, Danziger says, "We limited this study to the top 11 most purchased fashion brands among luxury consumers throughout 2009. The findings are a wake-up call to fashion marketers about the new economic realities of the luxury consumer market. With a few exceptions, the most purchased fashion brands among these affluent consumers are not considered 'true luxury,' but 'accessible luxury' or even premium mass brands. The reality of today's fashion market is that very respectable, though not true 'luxury' brands like Talbots, Liz Claiborne and Ann Taylor, are delivering an investment in fashion that is most highly regarded by affluent customers and that is what keeps them loyal to these brands."

About the Luxury Fashion & Fashion Brands Trend Report

This trend report reflects a survey among 1,245 affluent luxury consumers (avg. income $331,500; age 45.6 years; 42 percent male/58 percent female), conducted in association with Unity Marketing's Luxury Tracking Survey 1Q2010 fielded April 6-10, 2010.

Each respondent was asked about how much they spent on fashion, including women's and men's clothing and women's and men's fashion accessories. They were asked to rate 13 different shopping destinations for fashion items as to whether each is a 'go-to' source and the first place they shop for fashion; only appropriate occasionally for fashion shopping; or a place where they rarely or never shop for fashion. Three different types of fashion shoppers were profiled depending upon their patterns of shopping:

  • A shopper always on the lookout for new fashion items

  • A shopper that shops for fashion when the seasons change, then pick up other items on impulse or as needed

  • A shopper who only shops for fashion when they have to.

In another surprise finding, the 'as the seasons change' shopper spends 31 percent more than the shopper who is always on the lookout for new fashion.

Men's and women's fashion choices were examined as to whether they are more likely to buy the designer/luxury/high-end brand or a more accessible brand that is more widely available and lower in cost. In only one women's fashion item out of 10 included in the survey (leather handbag) and one men's item out of 9 (dress shirt) are a majority of these affluent shoppers likely to purchase the luxury brand.

Finally the report includes detail rankings of 11 fashion brands by how strongly they connect with their core customers and which of the 38 brand attributes and values best reflect their feelings about the brand.

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About Pam Danziger and Unity Marketing

Pamela N. Danziger is an internationally recognized expert specializing in consumer insights for marketers targeting the affluent consumer. She is president of Unity Marketing, a marketing consulting firm she founded in 1992. Pam received the Global Luxury Award for top luxury industry achievers presented at the Global Luxury Forum in 2007 by Harper's Bazaar.

Pam gives luxury marketers "All Access" to the mind of the luxury consumer. She uses qualitative and quantitative market research to learn about their brand preferences, shopping habits, and attitudes about their luxury lifestyles, then turns these insights into actionable strategies marketers can use to reach these high spending consumers. Unity Marketing is the voice of the luxury consumer for such clients as PPR, Diageo, Tempur-Pedic, Google, Swarovski, Constellation Wines, Luxottica, Orient-Express Hotels, Italian Trade Commission, Marie Claire magazine, The World Gold Council, and The Conference Board.

She is currently working on a new book, Putting the Luxe Back in Luxury, to be published in late 2010 by Paramount Market Publishing. Her other books include Shopping: Why We Love It and How Retailers Can Create the Ultimate Customer Experience, published by Kaplan Publishing in October 2006; Let Them Eat Cake: Marketing Luxury to the Masses - as well as the Classes, (Dearborn Trade Publishing, $27, hardcover) and Why People Buy Things They Don't Need: Understanding and Predicting Consumer Behavior (Chicago: Dearborn Trade Publishing, 2004).

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Pam Danziger