Market research for OM (Resource: Mintel)

Growing Menswear Market

The menswear market has continued to grow, increasing by 2% to an estimated £10.4 billion in 2012, despite an overall tough market for the retail sector. Male consumers have continued to spend on buying clothes, although they have adapted their shopping behaviour to a tougher climate and are buying clothes less often and increasingly only purchasing to replace worn out items. Men have also become bargain hunters and half mainly buy clothes when they are on sale, as well as comparing prices more before buying.

The menswear market is under-serviced compared to the womenswear market, with few specialist male clothing retailers. Men are more optimistic about their financial situation than women and while clothing is less of a priority for them, they are still purchasing new clothes. Over half of men are willing to pay more for a brand they like and a third are buying clothes online. This all creates an opportunity for further growth in the menswear sector.

“The menswear sector is an area with considerable growth potential as there are only a few big menswear clothing specialists and most fashion retailers have tended to concentrate on women’s clothing over men’s clothing. Men’s fashion appears to be undergoing a revival with several high street unisex retailers including H&M, Gap and Jigsaw focusing their attention on men, with high-profile campaigns, collaborations and pop-up stores.” – Tamara Sender, Senior Clothing Analyst


Men’s clothing sales have risen 12% over the last five years to reach £10.4 billion in 2012. While the market has continued to grow in 2012, increasing by 2% despite the tough economic climate, deflation has muted growth.

Mintel estimates that the men’s outerwear market will see growth of 11% between 2012 and 2017 as more clothing retailers focus on menswear.


Shopping behaviour in different age


Men aged 16-34 are the main clothes shoppers, with almost half buying clothes once a month. The youngest in this group, the 15-24s, are set to decline by 13% over the next five years and as they are the most keen to keep up with the latest fashion trends and enjoy shopping for clothes the most, this could create challenges for the menswear market.

However, the 25-34 age group is expected to rise in number by 11% between 2012 and 2017, creating an opportunity for the industry to grow sales amongst these men who are shopping the most frequently. They shop online the most and favour fewer but better quality clothes presenting opportunities for premiumisation in the menswear sector and for multichannel retailers to focus on quality.

Men are increasingly spending their money on designer brands and continue to invest in quality items, resulting in ongoing demand for premiumisation in the menswear market. As 25-34s overtake the younger 16-24s to become the most frequent clothes shoppers, young fashion retailers will need to grow their customer base to include these slightly older consumers. This age group tend to prefer to invest in quality items that will last meaning that retailers such as H&M and River Island could have more premium collections focusing on quality targeting these consumers.

As the population ages, fashion retailers need to do more to target these older consumers who tend to buy clothes for replacement. Image-conscious Baby Boomers, who have disposable income, are more fashion aware than their predecessors, and are therefore a good prospective market.

Men are split over the importance of price and quality in fashion. Price is the deciding factor for men aged under 55, while over-55s are most interested in the quality of the clothes.


Shopping behaviour in different social class


The 9% predicted rise in the number of men in the C2 group over the next five years could provide new avenues for growth for the sector as these men go shopping the most often for clothes. While C2s are still spending on buying new clothes, they may have traded down as they are mostly shopping in less expensive stores than 12 months ago. Supermarkets have benefited from them cutting back as they tend to shop at Asda and Tesco and consider that supermarkets offer a good selection of fashionable clothing. However, in order to compete for their custom with value retailers where they also shop, supermarkets need to ensure that they update their collections frequently as this group prefer to shop at retailers/brands that introduce new lines more than once a season.

The 4% forecast rise in the number of affluent ABs will drive demand for top-end brands as these consumers are willing to pay more for a brand they like. Retailers therefore need to ensure that they are offering the right mix of brands that cater to the demands of these well-off men. These affluent men, who have the greatest spending power, are buying clothes less often and therefore are likely to be more choosy about what they buy and where they buy it. Retailers that focus on the in-store shopping environment and on providing excellent customer service are more likely to attract them as customers.

Brands are very important to men when buying clothing or footwear and over half are willing to pay more for a brand they like. Interest in brands transcends socio-economic groups and both ABC1s and C2s agree with this. Affluent men who fall into the AB socio-economic group have reined in their purchases, while C2s go shopping the most for clothes.


Shopping online

A third of men buy their clothes online, but are less likely to buy other items of menswear via the internet. Only one in ten males purchase underwear and one in seven footwear online, showing the potential for retailers to push purchases of underwear when men buy an item of clothing. Online clothes shoppers are biased towards 25-34s. Online only retailers such as ASOS and Amazon are the most popular, particularly among under-25s, while multichannel retailers are biased towards 25-34s. Online auction sites attract a wider age range from 25-54s. Both pure-players peak among C2DEs.

Consumers are increasingly using various channels and devices to shop blurring the distinction between buying in-store and online. Mintel’s report Clothing Retailing – UK, October 2012 analysed how people shop and found that when buying men’s outerwear, almost three in ten male shoppers had used the internet as part of the browsing or purchase process, but a large proportion of this was in conjunction with store-based browsing and shopping.

Men are increasingly opting to reserve or pay for clothes online and then pick them up in store to avoid having to pay for delivery or having to wait in all day for the item to be delivered. Click and collect, however, is primarily used by under-35s and Mintel’s online discussion board showed that men over this age are less likely to be familiar with the service, highlighting the potential for a big marketing campaign aimed at over-35 males explaining its benefits.

Fit is also a barrier to men shopping online for clothes, and is not only an issue for women, with over half of males put off from making purchases via the internet due to not knowing if clothing will fit. A new service provided by offers online shoppers a virtual fitting room that uses a person’s measurements to create a visual indicator of how the garment will fit the customer. As more retailers begin to offer this service it will make it easier for men to buy the correct size in clothes and will reduce returns that are costly for retailers and inconvenient for customers.


Frequency of mens’ shopping


Men are buying clothes less often in 2013 with a 4-percentage point drop in those making purchases once a month or more since Mintel’s last report published in 2012. As a result of the continuing tough economic climate, most men are only shopping for clothes every few months.



Young men aged 16-24 have cut back the most, with a 10-percentage point drop in those purchasing clothes once a month or more since the last report.This age group, which has seen the highest rates of unemployment are instead shopping less frequently and are opting to only buy clothes every few months.

“I buy my clothes 3/4 times a month, I buy it less often as I should save my money for other things.” – 16-24-year-old C2 male

By contrast, 25-34s are buying clothes more often and have overtaken their younger counterparts to become the most frequent shoppers, with half purchasing garments once a month or more. Men aged 45 and over have also become more cautious and are shopping less frequently, with a 10-percentage point drop in older men buying clothes once a month or more and a 22-percentage increase in those instead purchasing several times a year.

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