New research from Indiana University's Kelley School of Business brings mixed news for the state's fashion industry. The school's quarterly FIndex survey shows, although they have less to spend this year, Millennials will likely direct most of their holiday spending money to apparel.

November 21, 2013

News Release

Bloomington, Ind. — Apparel continues to be the largest spending category for the millennial generation, particularly during the holiday shopping season, according to a quarterly index that measures consumer sentiment toward fashion trends in the apparel, footwear and accessory industry.

The quarterly FIndex survey, released today by Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, Kalypso and CollegeFashionista, also suggests that these young, fashion-conscious consumers will delay their holiday shopping to wait for discounts and sales on the part of retailers.

“During the holiday season, apparel is a more important spending category and accounts for a larger percentage of intended purchases by millennials than during the back-to-school shopping season,” said John Talbott, associate director of the Kelley School's Center for Education and Research in Retailing.

“The perception of new products is less positive than it was during the back-to-school shopping season,” Talbott added. “This differs from the sentiment during the back-to-school season, when more style gurus planned to shop early to ensure they could acquire the products they desire.”

The Center for Education and Research in Retailing and Kalypso, a global consulting firm that focuses on innovation, created the Fashion Innovation Index — the FIndex — to help retailers better track and understand consumer sentiment toward the innovativeness of merchandise quarter to quarter and more quickly identify and adopt emerging fashion trends.

The success of the holiday shopping season is a barometer of the broader U.S. economy. According to the National Retail Federation, sales in the months of November and December are expected to increase by 3.9 percent to $602 billion. The forecast is higher than 2012’s actual holiday season sales growth of 3.5 percent and beats the 10-year average increase of 3.3 percent.

The FIndex is based on survey data obtained from a representative sample of CollegeFashionista’s 600 “style gurus” who report on fashion trends at college campuses around the world. Style gurus are a curated group of college-age students who possess a keen eye for new style trends in all realms of the fashion industry.

Here are other findings from the 2013 FIndex holiday shopping survey:

• The index of purchase capability is lower, with more gurus indicating they have less to spend than last holiday season.

• While apparel still ranks first in relative importance, footwear and accessories are now tied for second. Accessory categories are gaining in importance relative to footwear when compared to the back-to-school shopping period.

• When making decisions about purchases, style gurus find Internet sources to be the most important. Magazines and social connections are next in line and essentially equal in importance.

• Mobile continues to grow in importance as a purchase channel. Approximately 10 percent more style gurus will make mobile purchases during holiday season, as compared to their activity during the back-to-school season.

• The perception of product innovation for future seasons is higher than the measure in September, indicating that the style gurus' perception of products they are seeing on runways and fashion spreads is attractive.

“If economic uncertainty does not dampen this enthusiasm there is reason to believe many retailers will enjoy better first- and second-quarter results,” Talbott said.

“The data we are seeing here is consistent with what we are hearing from many of the top retailers we speak with about innovation in product and process,” said Steve Riordan of Kalypso Consulting.

The FIndex also tracks brands, including those less familiar to consumers but with strong advocates among trendy fashionistas. Top brands were measured across four factors: awareness, purchase intent, personal purchase choice and advocacy for the brand. These were accumulated to create the index scores below. Brands in bold may be considered emerging brands as many style gurus are not aware of them but those who are aware are very passionate about them.

• Zara, brand index of 3.87

• Marc Jacobs, 3.81

• Topshop, 3.75

• Sephora, 3.74

• Anthropologie, 3.59

• Steve Madden, 3.58

• Free People, 3.55

• Essie, 3.50

• Michael Kors, 3.41

• Opi, 3.39

• M.A.C., 3.35

• Nasty Gal, 3.34

• Kate Spade, 3.32

• Burberry, 3.22

• Vera Wang, 3.19

• Ulta, 3.17

• Urban Decay, 3.08

• Eos, 2.47

• Moroccanoil, 2.19

Source: Indiana University

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