In the first part of our Valentine's article, we focused on the ways retailers communicated with shoppers in the build up to St. Valentine's Day. Today, our focus shifts to product specifics: data-powered analysis of what sells best across lingerie and gifting during retail's love-struck event.
Best practice retailers
The five global retailers with the largest online offering of 'Valentine' products (based on number of products identifying them as being Valentine-specific) are John Lewis, Nordstrom, Express, Neiman Marcus and Kohl’s. John Lewis's high volume of site traffic allows them to stock a large number of novelty Valentine items, including cards, homewares and decorations. For non-department stores this would be a risky undertaking, likely to result in high rates of discounting.
Nordstrom's offering is simpler - a lingerie buying guide and edited selections for date dressing for women and men, for which there are 10 pages of primarily red, pink and black dresses, accessories and underwear women, but only 22 items for men. The target here really is shopping for self as opposed to gifting.
Neiman Marcus have a broad range of gifting options: for him, for her, for kids, homewares, sweets and "unusual". It's within this last category which some real buying consideration has taken place, bringing together covetable designer items such as cute MARC by Marc Jacobs swimsuits, quirky Sophia Webster shoes, Alexander McQueen lace and skull print necktie and luxurious, but mass-appealing Tibi dresses. The selection spans tastes and price points, uses palette to blend seamlessly and avoids the tacky clichés of the event.
Meanwhile, Express have used social media to promote their well-thought out campaign, #onehotdate. They're giving away two cinema tickets with any spend over $100, which is well-positioned given their target shopper of 20-30 years old.
Aside from Christmas, Valentine's Day is one of the retail calendar's key dates for novelty products. Not suited to everyone's taste, how well does product actually sell? Looking at historical data from Valentine's 2013 with our Market Analytics software, we can see that men's novelty boxers, from Target, and socks, from Topman, were the best-selling novelty items. Meanwhile, a red dress at New Look, with a heart cut-out on the chest arrived online on the 31st January and was sold out by the 14th February. More surprising perhaps is the £554 Mulberry Bayswater Valentine Clutch (red with gold heart detailing) that sold out for Luisaviaroma, showing that novelty isn't refined to the value market.
That's something that's been built upon by retailers for 2014 novelty selections. Abercrombie & Fitch launched an online-only women's collection of Valentine's graphic t-shirts, featuring slogans such as "I'm falling in like with you" or "I think you are lovely". Urban Outfitters have stocked novelty boxer shorts having sent out their first Valentine email newsletter on the 31st January. Following last year's success, Topman have restocked on novelty socks and boxers, while Kohl's have introduced a range of baby wear featuring "Be Mine" or "Single & loving it" slogans.
Representing the high end is Charlotte Olympia's footwear and accessories, including $1,195 "Kiss Me Betsy" ankle boots featuring lip print and "Be Mine" sweetheart shaped clutch bag. American retailers are stocking these items more than the UK designer's local retailers.
Of course, for many retailers the Valentine's emphasis is placed on lingerie, however our commercial data shows that Christmas is a bigger lingerie date in the retail calendar based on number of new lines and successful styles. Data from 2013 shows February to be the month with the least new lingerie arrivals (December the most). Given low sell-through rates and a higher number of new styles than February, it appears that March is over-stocked for lingerie - perhaps late deliveries from Valentine's combined with new season stock. Retailers would be wise to exercise caution during March and perhaps try and balance out the Spring/Summer deliveries to arrive earlier in the year, benefitting from Valentine's.
So what sold in 2013? 50 Shades of Grey has had an unarguable influence on the lingerie industry, with bondage inspired garments no longer solely the focus of specialist retailers. During last Valentine's Day season, there was a noticeable increase in the number of black lace and sheer items selling out. Pink, red, and mauve lace also did well. Florals and bright colours didn't see as many sellouts as at other times of the year, and sexier shapes also did well - thongs saw an increase in demand, while French knickers and Brazilian shapes were also popular.
The average price point of popular garments was lower than other months, at £17, compared to April's £21, for example - dispelling the myth that men shopping for lingerie panic buy more expensive items!
Lingerie continues to move in more trend-influenced directions, with sell-outs so far in this year's Valentine's build-up including items like Topshop's embellished bralet, garishly coloured leopard print by Dsqaured and Hunkermoller and a large increased in non-wired items from Topshop, ASOS, Cheap Monday and Mimi Holiday. Colours also span a wider remit, with the expected blacks and reds joined by purple, blue and even yellow from Elle Macpherson, Mimi Holiday, Dsquared and Shae. Demand for peach and blush tones has also stepped up, proving popular for Selfridges and Uniqlo.
The best-selling brands currently are Chantal Thomass, Hunkermoller, La Perla, Dsqaured, Wonderbra and Elle Macpherson Intimates. Meanwhile, the biggest stockists of underwear have Marks & Spencer, Simply Be, Nordstrom, House of Fraser and John Lewis. Looking at price architecture of the lingerie’s offering at those retailers shows that Marks & Spencer may benefit from opening the breadth of their offering out, given the dramatic drop off after £30.
EDITD customers, we’ve just prepared detailed analysis of Valentine's product, and what's up next for the lingerie market. Check it out here.
If you'd like to become an EDITD insider and receive the latest trends and key stories directly to your inbox, sign up for free now.