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Consumer Study Shows Apparel Brand Loyalty Has Increased Consumers Seek More From Brands They Currently Own.

NEW YORK, Nov. 13 /PRNewswire/ --

Consumers are choosing apparel brands they know and trust, according to a recent national survey from retail and consumer products consulting firm Kurt Salmon Associates. This survey uncovered that, despite the dizzying array of brands available, many consumers opt for a name they are comfortable with, decreasing the chances of future trial for brands for which they don't have an affinity. What consumers want is consistency of fit, value, relevance, and more innovation from brands they currently own.

Based on a nationally representative sample of 2,000 consumers, the biennial KSA/NPD Apparel Brand Reports offer the most comprehensive information available on apparel brand image and awareness. This year's Reports feature profiles of 150 women's and 90 men's national, private label and retail brands. Key findings from the 2000 Reports are highlighted below.

Brand names earn increased consumer loyalty

Contrary to some of the conventional wisdom in the apparel industry, consumers revealed that they are more loyal than ever to the brands that have delivered for them time and time again. This is welcome news for successful apparel brand marketers, as loyalty is both a critical measure of brand equity and a key driver of profitability. This year's KSA/NPD Apparel Brand Reports show the average loyalty for all brands surveyed has increased over the past two years from 1998 to 2000.

"Purchasers will return again and again to a brand that has met their expectations," says Marian Henneman, a senior manager in KSA's strategic services group. "Generating sales from an existing consumer base costs far less in terms of research, advertising and marketing support, than does winning new customers."

Top 5 Men's Brands Top Women's Brands

Ranked by Loyalty Ranked by Loyalty 2000

Rank

Levi's(R) Hanes 1

Nike Old Navy 2

Dockers Fruit of the Loom 3

Hanes Route 66 4

Fruit of the Loom Dockers 5

According to KSA, the key to success in the apparel industry today is to create a foundation of loyal consumers who will drive overall profitability.

"While generating excitement and awareness is necessary to entice consumers, building strategies to keep them coming back is crucial," says Adelle Kirk, KSA principal and director of consumer marketing.

"Although apparel brand managers typically invest in market research and analysis to acquire new customers, they often do not show an equal interest in reinforcing the loyalty of their current consumers," says Kirk. "Brand managers need to increase their understanding of their consumers and the attributes they value. The key today is not more consumers, but more profitable consumers."

Consumers indicate the greatest opportunity for existing brands is to deliver more value

Along with this increasing consumer brand loyalty, the Reports discovered that consumers want more value from their current brands in terms of key product/image attributes.

"A common misconception is that more brand choices are better," says Kirk. "Customers' closets are full. Sub-brands aren't always the solution to gaining greater share of closet. Consumers are telling us that there is a significant opportunity for brands to increase sales through greater innovation, better fit, and more relevance to today's changing lifestyle."

Delivering more to consumers without generating more SKUs requires enhanced product development, micro-merchandising, and true differentiation through convenience, service and tailored assortments.

"Staying ahead of the innovation curve is important," says Cara Sao Bento, a manager in KSA's consumer marketing group. "Brands need to constantly seek and implement new ways to satisfy unmet consumer needs."

Relevance and product innovation are the two attributes that male and female consumers feel have the most room for improvement. On average, less than one-quarter of participants surveyed reported that brands are doing an excellent/very good job on product innovation. Less than 40 percent of purchasers feel that a given brand they have purchased has excellent/very good relevance to their lifestyle.

The following charts illustrate the percent of male and female consumers who rated each brand excellent/very good for the categories surveyed.

Top five men's brands ranked by key attributes

Quality Availability Selection Fit/Consistency

of Fit

L.L. Bean Honors Nike Levi's(R)

91.8 69.2 69.6 71.0

Brooks Brothers Wrangler Lands' End Jockey

89.8 68.4 69.2 67.4

Pendleton Route 66 Old Navy Dockers 67.1

87.4 68.0 69.0 67.1

Columbia Sportswear Levi's(R) Gap Fruit of the Loom

86.8 67.8 67.8 65.1

Lands' End Arrow Abercrombie & Fitch Arrow

85.4 64.7 66.0 64.1

All Brands All Brands All Brands All Brands

Average Average Average Average

71.9 56.8 55.3 54.1

Value Relevance Innovation

Honors Levi's(R) Columbia Sportswear

73.0 53.1 40.0

Rustler cK Nautica

69.9 52.8 39.2

Fruit of the Loom Nike cK

66.7 51.8 38.1

Basic Equipment Structure Nike

66.3. 47.9 37.4

Hanes Old Navy Giorgio Armani

66.2 46.6 37.3

All Brands All Brands All Brands

Average Average Average

49.5 39.1 21.2

Top five women's brands ranked by key attributes

Quality Availability Selection Fit/Consistency

of Fit

Evan-Picone Kathie Lee Collection Victoria's Secret Hanes Her Way

91.4 73.8 77.2 72.6

L.L. Bean Jaclyn Smith Old Navy Bali

91.2 73.4 73.0 72.4

Talbots Route 66 Lane Bryant Levi's(R)

88.6 72.6 72.2 70.9

London Fog Willow Bay Spiegel Just My Size

87.5 71.9 71.7 70.8

Timberland NY&Co J.Crew Just for Women

87.5 71.4 71.5 69.9

All Brands All Brands All Brands All Brands

Average Average Average Average

69.9 59.0 58.1 53.9

Value Relevance Innovation

Basic Equipment Levi's(R) Express

72.6 54.1 39.3

Fruit of the Loom Jones of New York American Eagle Outfitters

72.4 53.7 35.6

Faded Glory Just My Size Tommy Hilfiger

71.4 52.8 35.6

Route 66 Just for Women Victoria's Secret

71.2 51.3 33.5

Hanes Her Way cK Gucci

70.0 50.7 33.1

All Brands All Brands All Brands

Average Average Average

49.7 38.3 32.1

Industry leaders will be those who invest in predicting consumers' shopping habits, developing innovative solutions, and applying consumer insights to the cornerstones of their business. As a result, successful brand strategists will create organizations poised to capitalize on change as it occurs. These industry leaders will not only increase their market share and fulfill consumer demand, but more importantly, they will define new markets, products and retail vehicles to create consumer demand.

"Loyalty and trust are built over time," states Kirk. "Consumer loyalty is achieved by intimately understanding your target consumers' attitudes and needs, and then effectively and consistently anticipating and exceeding those needs and expectations. Brands that focus on delivering innovation and relevance to lifestyle, and that strategically evaluate opportunities to extend their offerings, will yield the highest loyalty rates and reap the greatest profits."

Kurt Salmon Associates is the leading global management consulting firm specializing in a full range of traditional and E-business services to the retail and consumer products industries.
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