US menswear on the rise but brands' digital strategies lag behind

Digital analytics firm L2’s “The Dark Horse of Fashion” report reveals that although US menswear revenues are expected to grow 5% in the next 2 years, outperforming womenswear, few brands are catering to the burgeoning market on their digital platforms.
 

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Calvin Klein was singled out as a brand missing the mark by prioritizing womenswear on its e-commerce homepage - © PixelFormula

The study, which examined the behaviour of 59 American menswear, womenswear and unisex brands, found that a third of brands carrying both women’s and menswear did not feature any men’s products on their e-commerce site homepages. A further 19% relegated these products to secondary status by only showing them below the fold.

Calvin Klein was highlighted as a coed brand missing a trick, prioritizing womenswear on its homepage, while men's underwear was its most viewed product page in 2017. 
 
Elsewhere, brands were also shown to not be taking advantage of the data they harvested. While 86% of the fashion brands studied asked consumers to specify their gender when they created an account on their e-commerce site, only 41% of those brands used this data to adapt subject lines in gender-targeted e-mails.
 
The study found that the 15 brands that did use their data to target men more specifically in this way saw significantly higher open rates in emails featuring menswear-specific subjects, suggesting a clear marketing benefit.
 
Generally, menswear brands were also found to be lagging behind their womenswear counterparts when it comes to social media, especially on Facebook-owned Instagram, where 24% of American men now have an account. Menswear brands analyzed in the report had 53% fewer posts, 75% fewer followers and 82% fewer interactions on the platform when compared to their womenswear and coed peers.
 
Brioni and Dunhill were called out for markedly lacking efforts on this front, while Hugo Boss and Supreme were commended for bucking the trend.
 
Instagram was also named by a recent Zine survey as the go-to platform for fashion and beauty influencers. However, the same survey found that 84% of influencers active on the platform were women, an overwhelming gendered skew suggesting that menswear brands could be doing much more to exploit this important marketing channel.

As no analysis of digital marketing can avoid addressing the subject these days, L2’s "Dark Horse" report also had some interesting revelations about influencers. For example, while womenswear brands are increasingly enlisting microinfluencers to promote their products, L2’s study found that celebrities – particularly musicians and athletes – are still more likely to obtain a greater impact when dealing with male audiences.

This could go some way to explaining the bias identified by Zine's survey, as, by this logic, menswear brands should be aiming to coordinate a smaller pool of more highly influential digital promoters. 
 
In any case, in a market increasingly dominated by e-commerce and digital marketing, fashion brands carrying menswear would do well to take heed of L2’s findings as men’s apparel and accessories come into their own in an industry that is traditionally female focused.
 
It is a shift which is being reflected across all levels of the industry with Nordstrom gearing up for the opening of its first men’s flagship in New York and menswear labels outnumbering womenswear in the short list for last year’s LVMH Prize. The increased importance of men’s fashion is even affecting the catwalk as more and more brands choose to host coed runways.
 
The “The Dark Horse of Fashion” report is available to access on L2’s website. 

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