BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- As a result of a partnership between Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, Kalypso and CollegeFashionista.com, a new quarterly index will measure consumer sentiment towards fashion trends in the apparel, footwear and accessory industry.
The Center for Education and Research in Retailing at the Kelley School and Kalypso, a leading consulting firm that focuses on innovation, have created the Fashion Innovation Index -- which they are calling the "FIndex" -- to help retailers better track and understand consumer sentiment towards the innovativeness of merchandise quarter to quarter and more quickly identify and adopt emerging fashion trends.
"This index offers unique insights for retailers that link new innovations in footwear, apparel and accessories with consumer sentiment and spending," said Steve Riordan, partner at Kalypso. "Our goal is to assess consumer attitudes to gain a better understanding of what is going on in stores today and to better predict future trends and spending behaviors."
The Fashion Innovation Index 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-aged students who possess a keen eye for new style trends in all realms of the fashion industry.
"Our Style Gurus capture and report on trends at their universities. Many of them are studying product development or design at their schools so they are uniquely positioned to report on fashion innovation that appeals to the college-age population," said Amy Levin, chief executive officer and founder of CollegeFashionista. "In the aggregate, I think we can really put our finger on the pulse of college fashion."
The survey instrument will be deployed quarterly to a representative sample of CollegeFashionista's Style Gurus. The intent is to provide a perception of fashion product innovation as stores bring in large quantities of new seasonal styles for back to school, the holidays, spring and early summer.
"This is the initial launch of this survey instrument. As we gather longitudinal data, we will be able to gauge relative perception of innovation from season to season," said John Talbott, associate director of the Center for Education and Research in Retailing. "Over time, we hope to see that our preference data is correlated and offset negatively in the time dimension to key measures of retail performance, such as comp store sales and reported profitability."
Here are findings from the 2013 FIndex Back to School Survey:
- The perception of new products in apparel, footwear and accessories is somewhat positive and those surveyed intend to make their purchases early to insure they get the new styles they desire.
- The enthusiasm for the product innovation being offered is tempered by a lower level of disposable income that the Style Gurus can use to make these purchases. The majority of those polled indicated that they had less to spend this back to school season than they did last year. This is a thought-provoking finding in light of the recent earnings misses by Macy's, Coach, Nordstrom and other major purveyors of fashion products.
- In terms of spending categories apparel is the clear leader followed by footwear then accessories. The group plans to spend little on new technology products, perhaps indicating a lack of innovation in this product category.
- The Internet is the largest channel used by this population to purchase new products, with most transactions taking place from a laptop or desktop. The percentage of purchases made on mobile devices is in the low double digits. While mobile is expected to have a higher growth rate over time, store-based purchasing is still very important for this group
- Key Specialty Brands are: Urban Outfitters, J.Crew, Free People (Urban), Forever 21 and Zara
- Luxury brands with significant preference include: Marc Jacobs, Kate Spade, Tory Burch, Michael Kors
- The perception of innovation in product for future seasons is not as high as it is currently.
The FIndex will also track relative perception of key brands over time and identify emerging brands that are attracting the attention of Fashionistas.
Kalypso is the world's premier innovation consulting firm, helping clients improve performance, drive profitability and create sustainable results by delivering on the promise of innovation. The people of Kalypso are leading business professionals who combine unparalleled expertise in innovation, product development, and product lifecycle management (PLM) with a depth of experience in the consumer goods, high technology, manufacturing, life sciences and retail industries.