The top four midmarket players in the womenswear sector are all forecast to lose share in 2017. This highlights how challenging it is to operate in this price segment of the market, but also the weakness in their propositions and their lack of response to rising competition.
Undesirable and undifferentiated product lies at the heart of the big four’s problems, and while the likes of Next has focused on incorporating more trend-led SKUs into its ranges, this has been at the expense of its core lines, proving a turn off for its existing customer base. Satisfying loyal shoppers’ needs must be a priority as customer acquisition becomes harder and shoppers more fickle.
A failure to innovate and modernise has left these midmarket stalwarts with stale brand identities and a lack of relevance, which cannot be cured overnight. This makes it all the more easy for rivals such as Zara, ASOS and John Lewis to lure shoppers away by offering more exciting, design-led ranges, with a certain cool or aspiration factor that the midmarket giants are unable to match.
The midmarket is especially susceptible to consumers trading down, and given the extensive choice, fast turnover of stock, and on trend ranges on offer at the likes Primark and H&M, it can be hard for shoppers to justify buying at midmarket prices – especially given restricted budgets and the de-prioritisation of clothing in 2017. Demonstrating the added value in their offers, via enhanced quality, fit, customer service and instore environment is a hard task, not to mention costly, but essential for the likes of Arcadia and Debenhams, if they are to encourage full price sales, recruit new customers and stem further share declines.
The above data is included in GlobalData’s UK Womenswear Market 2017-2022 report, which can be found here.