Online menswear retailer boohooMAN is known for its fashion-forward and daring styles. However, with so much focus on its trend-led product, especially in its campaigns, it is in danger of limiting its appeal – preventing it from stealing shoppers from competitors.

Menswear online retailers

The retailer’s full-year 2018/19 results revealed strong group revenue growth of 47.8%, driven by PrettyLittleThing, which was up 106.6% on the year. However, the lack of figures disclosed for the boohooMAN fascia indicates that it is likely to be underperforming and struggling to win over enough shoppers. Given its small base, it should be achieving exponential growth like its sister brands boohoo.com and PrettyLittleThing.

The brand initially launched in 2013, progressing to a standalone website in 2016, so has had ample opportunity to build a loyal following, especially given its investment in global celebrity collaborations – a strategy which has been fiercely successful for boohoo.com.

The UK menswear market will reach £11.3bn in 2019 and is forecast to grow 10.8% out to 2024, outperforming womenswear, making it a desirable market to target, especially as few online pureplays solely target young males.

Nonetheless, retailers such as New Look and Whistles have failed to secure a devoted male customer base, with the former announcing plans to remove menswear from its stores this year and Whistles axing its range entirely, diversifying into new markets is not easy. Indeed, boohoo.com previously experienced such challenges with its childrenswear range, which was axed in 2018 after operating for just two years – with the retailer failing to acquire new older shoppers with children of their own.

10.5% of UK menswear shoppers aged 16-24 purchased from boohooMAN in the past year making it the 14th most shopped retailer among this demographic, according to GlobalData’s 2019 UK clothing survey. In contrast, boohoo.com is the sixth most shopped womenswear retailer among 16-24s with 26.5% shopping there in the past year. This disparity between the two brands highlights that boohooMAN is struggling to gain traction among male shoppers.

In womenswear, the boohoo.com brand resonates with a wider audience, with 14.4% of 25-34s also shopping at the retailer. However, boohooMAN’s appeal drops off significantly to just 3.7% of this older age group, making it dependent on 16-24s. Given its position in the value segment, boohooMAN must remain competitive on price, especially as Primark is the most shopped retailer among 16-24s, with a penetration of 28.6%. Offering alternative delivery options is essential in order to provide comparable convenience to rival ASOS, with Collect+ collection an opportunity for boohooMAN. Comfort and fit are the most important attributes for 16-24-year-old males when buying clothing for themselves, making them worthy areas for investment.

Significant investment in celebrity collaborations and marketing has boosted shopper interest in the brand, with the online pureplay currently collaborating with US rapper Quavo, helping to widen its reach globally. Despite this, boohooMAN remains a small player in the UK menswear market and overshadowed by value rivals. While its value prices and frequent discounting will encourage shoppers to consider the retailer when browsing for menswear, boohooMAN’s brand image is limiting its reach. As males are not as brave when it comes to trends, boohooMAN’s strong focus on fashion-forward streetwear will appeal to those willing to take risks but will prove off-putting for most males who like to play it safer. Targeting such a niche group within the 16-24 demographic will hinder boohooMAN’s growth potential.

To appeal to a wider customer base, boohooMAN must retain its trend focus to differentiate its offer but complement this with more wearable basics to provide a balanced and commercial range, as has been successful for boohoo.com. This needs to be reflected in its marketing campaigns to help it win over shoppers from competitors such as Topman and River Island.

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