The Gap brand is facing hard times with declining sales, store closures, and failed brand campaigns. The demise of Gap and other suffering specialty retailers has largely been attributed to the rise of fast fashion. Fast fashion brands such as H&M, Forever 21, and Gap's own Old Navy have shorter production schedules and are able to churn out current, right-off-the-runway trends at a low price. With this model, fast fashion continues to gain market share over specialty retailers such as Gap. 1
It turns out there is at least one segment resistant to the shift of fast fashion: middle aged men. According to our panelist data, the percentage of male customers at Gap outweighs male fast fashion customers by 11% (39% at Gap vs 28% at fast fashion retailers.) There is also a clear age difference between men who shop at Gap and fast fashion: 62% of male Gap customers are over 35 years old compared to only 50% in fast fashion. Male Gap customers are also outspending females at Gap and fast fashion customers of either gender; a male visit to the Gap is worth 24% more on average than a visit by a female customer.
Male customers most likely rely on Gap for basic and consistent styles and quality product they cannot find within fast fashion. Gap Inc CEO Art Peck is hoping to change up Gap’s current production schedule to mimic the fast fashion model. While the fast fashion model works for other retailers and even specific customer segments, this move may be at the cost of one of Gap’s most loyal and spendy customer segments. Maybe it’s time Gap doubles down on retaining and acquiring male customers to sustain its business instead of trying to steal customers away from fast fashion.
Behind The Data: We analyzed data from panelists who have made purchases at Gap and fast fashion companies. The fast fashion companies included in this data set are Forever 21, H&M, and Old Navy. We then bucketed customers by age and gender to analyze purchasing behavior over the last 365 days.
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