At least that’s what Unity Marketing found recently in a study that asked 1,245 affluent consumers (average household income $331,500; age 46.5 years; 42% male/58%female) to rate their favorite fashion brands.
Instead of the usual traditional answers such as “high quality” or “good value for the price” the surveyed affluent consumers were swayed by fashion brands that presented a “good investment.”
“This gives the phrase ‘investment dressing’ a whole new meaning,” says Pam Danziger, president of United Marketing and lead researcher of “The Luxury Fashion Consumer & Their Favorite Brands.”
“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 terms of timelessness, sophistication, and distinction, according to the survey results.”
Each respondent was asked to rate their favorite brands out of the 11 most widely purchased fashion brands found in Unity Marketing’s 2009 luxury tracking surveys. “This wasn’t a survey of luxury fashion brands but of brands that are most often purchased by luxury consumers, Danziger says. These brands included: Ann Taylor, Anne Klein, Armani, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, Coach, Gucci, Liz Claiborne, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren and Talbots.
Top Three Fashion Brands
The three brands that ranked the highest—Talbots, Armani and Coach—provide some insights into the luxury consumer’s mindset. Danziger says Unity asked shoppers to rate each 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 loyalist,” Danziger says. “For example, investment is more important than price/value in a fashion brand. Honesty and integrity are more important than high quality, and being able to astonish and surprise their customers is more important than whether the brand allows them to express their personality.”
Pointing to what the consumers felt about the top three, Danziger says Talbots topped the list, rating the highest among the brands in investment, top marks in integrity and connecting their core consumer. “Among the brand values that Talbots delivers are timeless fashion, credibility, high quality, sophistication and trustworthiness. Other brands can learn a lesson from Talbot’s ability to connect,” she adds.
At a very close second was Armani, which rated first as the most luxurious brand among brand loyalists. “Armani didn’t rate as high as other brands on investment, but makes up by being high in artistic dimension, being true to its values and paying attention to clients,” Danziger says.
The third place brand, Coach topped the list as a fashion brand that pays attention to its clients and understands their needs. “Coach is a brand that gives its customers confidence in always being in fashion and one that is different from other brands,” Danziger adds.