New York, NY
Cotton Incorporated and Cotton Council International have recently completed their international consumer survey ¯ and they have several revealing insights to share from around the globe.
First off, spending on clothes worldwide over the previous three months was up, in U.S. dollar terms. From the top, the leader was Italy ($440), followed by the UK ($439), Germany ($399), Japan ($319), Colombia ($255), China ($252), United States ($229), Turkey ($227), Brazil ($195), Thailand ($77) and India ($58).
Since 1999, these two marketing associations have conducted the Global Lifestyle Monitor research project, which investigates lifestyle issues, clothing purchasing habits, and clothing interest and attitudes. The research has been important to retailers and manufacturers to increase their understanding of consumer attitudes and behavior around the globe.
The most recent Global Lifestyle Monitor, conducted this year, looked at trends from 10 countries ¯ Brazil, China, Colombia, Germany, Thailand, India, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and, for the first time, Turkey ¯ using face-to-face and telephone interviews.
The focus of the latest GLM questions were on shopping and fashion, quality and fibers, denim and stretch, and environmentally-friendly clothing. And what do the results reveal about shoppers’ habits and preferences?
- Beyond the U.S., where 75% of consumers hit the stores once a month or so, Europeans are the most frequent fashion shoppers, led by the UK (64%), Turkey (57%) and Italy (54%). Concern about selection and pricing is lower in Europe (28%) than in Asia (43%) and South America (38%).
- Consumers around the world prefer small, independent stores (with Italy leading at 42% of responses), although department stores aren’t far behind (in China, 37% of the respondents preferred them) ¯ but street markets dominate in Thailand (51%) and Brazil (43%) and the UK (36%) like to shop at chain stores. American consumers split their preferences between mass merchants (23%) and chain stores (23%).
- Globally, more than six out of 10 (62%) of consumers say they love or enjoy wearing denim. German consumers are the most avid denim wearers: 88% enjoy or love wearing denim and only 3% say denim is not for them. In the U.S., 78% love or enjoy denim, and only 3% don’t. In Brazil, 72% love or enjoy denim and 3% don’t. In Japan, 69% love or enjoy wearing denim and only 7% don’t. In Colombia, 67% do and 3% don’t.
- Consumers globally look for clothes that are easy to care for, including wrinkle and stain resistance. In Thailand, 83% responded that they’d pay more for easy care, while Turkish consumers (80%) would pay more for wrinkle-resistance. In Brazil, 78% would pay more for stain-resistance. Germans (60%) and Brits (53%) want water-resistance.
- Which apparel consumers are the most likely to check out fiber content labels and laundering instructions before purchasing? Chinese (69% for fiber, 59% for laundering) and Japanese (63% for fiber, 53% for laundering). Shoppers in Colombia and Brazil are the least likely to look at fiber content and laundering instructions before purchasing. In the U.S., 50% check fiber and 36% check laundering instructions before buying.
- Consumers are selective about fibers: Of those who said they avoid particular fibers, polyester was the most mentioned fabric (25%). Overall, 44% of consumers said they actively avoid one or more fibers when shopping for clothing (slightly down from 46% in 2006). Fiber avoidance was highest in Germany and Italy, both of which said polyester was the most-avoided fiber. Of Turkish consumers, 83% avoid nylon; 61% of Thais avoid wool.
- Cotton enjoys a strong association worldwide positive attributes such as traditional, soft, breathable and a quality fabric. Positive responses are consistently high in the European countries: Italy has the highest for breathability (92%) and traditional (87%), while Turkey ranks highest for soft (84%) and comfortable (78%).
- Natural fibers like cotton, silk and wool were clearly seen as being more environmentally friendly than synthetic fibers. Although Colombia and Thailand hold polyester (40% say it is safe for the environment) and spandex (36%) in higher regard than other countries in the survey, it is still well below the 75% who consider cotton safe for the environment.
- Consumers globally are most concerned about water quality, child labor practices, global warming and preservatives in food, but less concerned with loss of rural farm land, pesticides for cotton, clothes treated with dyes, the use of oil/chemicals for synthetic fibers and genetically modified plants for clothing.
Cotton Incorporated, funded by U.S. growers of upland cotton and importers of cotton and cotton textile products, is the research and marketing company representing upland cotton. The Program is designed and operated to improve the demand for and profitability of cotton.
Cotton Council International (CCI) is the export promotion arm of the National Cotton Council of America. CCI's mission is to increase exports of U.S. cotton, cottonseed and U.S. manufactured cotton products through activities that affect every phase of the marketing chain, from the mill buyer of cotton fiber or purchaser of U.S. cotton-rich yarns and fabrics on through to the consumer.