NPD: Aspirational Shopping Is Out, Signature Items In
April 13, 2017,
PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. - The days of the aspirational purchase—buying something because it marks an achievement beyond one’s financial reality—is over and responsible spending has taken its place, according to an NPD Group white paper.
Categories hit hardest by the switch to prioritized purchases—now focused on individuality and artisan or handcrafted items—are high-end categories such as jewelry and handbags, according to the white paper titled, “Retail Reborn: How the Aspirational Purchase Has Shifted.”
High-priced fashion in general has taken a hit, while spending at dollar stores and off-price retail outlets is increasing, NPD reported. A fear of debt and a preference for experience over appearance has helped shape this change.
Online shoppers aged 18 to 24 spent $46.37 per receipt on home and kitchen versus $18.90 in brick-and-mortar stores. Millennials between 25 to 34 spent $54.66 per receipt online for home/kitchen items, while ringing up $19.44 in stores.
The factors driving higher online purchases were threefold: minimum order requirements for free shipping; ease of comparing prices for higher-ticket items; and easy return policies for items such as clothing that often require returns.
While high-ticket, aspirational items are declining in popularity, signature items—those pieces that help a consumer stand out from the crowd—are gaining ground. This could be a pair of vintage sneakers or an eco-friendly lunchbox for a child’s first day at school. Signature items are considered ones that are carefully researched and selected and also have photographic appeal because Millennials like to share images and experiences.
Baby Boomers are taking an interest in signature items, too, especially for the home. The report noted that cooking and entertaining at home and home décor are important to Millennials and Boomers. And signature items linked to gatherings of family and friends are important to both groups.
Key items for Millennials include conversation-starting small appliances such as high-end coffee makers and pressure cookers, while non-electric housewares and textiles resonate with Baby Boomers.
So when should retailers be targeting these Millennial and Baby Boomer shoppers during the holidays? In-store purchases of housewares and small appliances tend to happen on Saturdays in December, while online purchases are concentrated on Black Friday weekend.
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