Shoppers Love Low Prices, but What Else?

How a brand can compete on price and remain appealing

Author: Krista Garcia

July 10, 2018

Multiple studies have shown price plays a strong role in shopping decisions. It's why dollar stores have thrived for the past decade and why many consumers choose to shop online instead of in-store

The US internet users surveyed in May 2018 by YouGov were driven by value when shopping for clothing, shoes and accessories. The leading factor when deciding where to shop was low prices, cited by 23% of respondents, followed by special offers (19%). Quality was a leading motivator for 16%. 

Old Navy was the leading brand among price-oriented shoppers, receiving a score of 31 on a scale from -100 to +100. Levi's (26), New Balance, Wrangler and Skechers (all scored 24) were also considered to have good value for the money. Interestingly, none of these brands scored very highly with consumers on that -100 to +100 scale, especially compared with other rankings on different factors below.

Those motivated by deals were asked which brands they had seen an advertisement for in the past two weeks. Victoria's Secret (41), Nike (37) and Kohl's (34) were the top three recalled. For those who sought quality, Nike (52), Levi's (43) and adidas (43) ranked in the top three brands. 

An additional question was posed generally about brands shoppers were most satisfied with. Uniqlo, a clothing brand from Japan, came in first with a score of 91. Nike tied for second with 90.

Still, for many brands there is a risk in being perceived too strongly for value. That perception needs the counterweight of quality. Among apparel brands, Nike appears to have struck a unique balance in consumers' minds.

Nike is an unusual brand in that it gets consistently high marks across multiple surveys and studies. Nike was ranked the most valuable American apparel brand in a June 2018 report by Brand Finance. The brand has nonsports performance appeal with sneaker fanatics and with athleisure wearers. Nike was the top athletic brand among US women ages 18 to 34, according to a recent surveyed by Cowen and Company. It also remains one of the top choices with teens

In addition to multiple partnerships of all stripes—Amazon, Dick's Sporting Goods, Asos and Tmall, among many—Nike has a strong direct-to-consumer channel. Nike's website reeled in 10.9% of the traffic accumulated by the top 10 US apparel retailers in Q1 2018, according to SimilarWeb. The site trailed only traditional department stores and was one of the only direct-to-consumer brands in the top 10. 

Nike debuted its digital innovation plan, "Consumer Direct Offense," in summer 2017 and has been investing in new platforms and improving the customer experience. Relaunches of the SNKRS mobile app, which provides access to sneaker releases and stories behind the shoes, and the Nike Plus membership program (which is now more personalized) are part of that push. Strategies have not revolved around price or discounts. 

According to Nike's Q4 2017 results last month, its plans appear to be paying off. Revenues in the fourth quarter increased 13% to $9.8 billion, driven by direct-to-consumer sales, including 5% comparable store sales growth and 34% digital growth. In the earnings call, Nike CFO Andy Campion attributed 90% of the company's fiscal 2018 growth to Nike Direct. "Digital is proving to be as transformative as we expected, and potentially even more so," he said.