There’s a bit of a quirk emerging in the retail research report detail that, as a social media agency, we’re interested in exploring. It involves fashion. And women. And how we can’t get enough of talking about our clothing – yet we seem to have quite a clear idea of what we want to buy.

As we’re all excited by the recent explosion of social and fashion, we’ve been trying to reconcile our findings and would be interested in seeing what other people think.

This is the story so far.

1. On the hunt

As regular readers will be aware, we’ve been exploring social shopping behaviours and how people are purchasing online. Building on previous research in this area, we’ve been looking at three online shopping behaviours: ‘hunter’ (“I look for the best price”); ‘gatherer’ (“I research for detailed information”) and ‘collaborator’ (“I search for the advice and ideas of other consumers”); and exploring any correlation between these characteristics and the categories or consumers that they are aligned with.

In fashion, hunting tops the bill. Dramatically.

Theoretically, then, online retailers should be competing on price; however –

2. There’s lots of conversation going on as well

Our research is also beginning to suggest that women might be a little bit shy on line. That they are a little more reluctant to share than men and, possibly, a bit more cautious about whom they trust. Given that women are more active on social platforms, this presents another interesting paradox for us to explore; however, it also highlights the things that women do want to talk about. Like shoes and clothes.

Mentions of fashion online and on social media

Mentions of fashion online and on social media

When it comes to fashion, women are more than happy to join in. In fact, aside from blog mentions (where men dominate in all product categories), women, quite uncharacteristically, take the lead in online reviews, sharing on both forums and social networks.

They are also, perhaps unsurprisingly, more likely to be interested in connecting with a brand.

3. What women want…

As part of our survey, we asked about the services that would encourage future purchases. When it comes to fashion, women’s responses significantly increase. This demand for engagement with brand points to the interesting tension in our findings: fashion shoppers know exactly what they want – but perhaps there’s a bit of an opportunity for them to be swayed.

Fashion retailers’ use of social media has been much talked about in recent months. With m-commerce, f-commerce and geo technology merging the online and offline shopping spaces and a clear demographic overlap between fashion consumers and social media users, this is an exciting and rapidly moving area of online retail.

It’s also crammed with competition and the challenge will be in making sure that shoppers are reached.

One way of doing this is to engage with potential consumers before they’ve got their hunting hat on; another, to build the kind of relationship that keeps consumers coming back – and by making sure that they bring their friends.

Our research suggests how this might be done – but it will be interesting to see how fashion retailers understand and interact with this scenario; and whether fashion will continue to buck the trends in online shopping behaviours.

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