Men don’t buy their own clothes, women do….. don’t they?

It’s been bandied about in training manuals for decades, that when in comes to selling menswear in store, you must market the section to females because they are the ones buying the clothes. Well surely now in 2015 that’s nonsense! Of course there will still be some women buying clothes for men but there has been a huge shift in men shopping for themselves. A survey by How we shop now in 2014 found that for the first time men are nearly spending as much as women on clothing and accessories. The men’s clothing industry is worth 13 billion a year, that results in an averaging spending of £998 per man in the UK. Men’s fashion is growing year on year and although its been found that they buy fewer items than women, they are more willing to spend more on each item. So it looks like increasing the amount of male customers could prove very lucrative for a shop, but what do men like visually when it comes to shopping.

The starting point for defining a shops visual character is establishing who is the current customer and who is the target customer. If men are one of your target customers then you need to be appealing to them as part of your visual strategy. If you can understand your customer then you are on to a winner, there are all sorts of the things that can be measured in a shop from sales, average prices, culling rates etc… You can become an expert in numbers, but to be able to discover the thoughts of your customers would be priceless. There are some great books written about retail customers and Paco Underhill’s ‘Why we buy’ is one of them. The book is a great starting point for look at the thought process behind shopping. A chapter looking at shopping like a man is full of great pointers:

    • Men do like shopping they just aren’t as into browsing like woman.
    • They are faster shoppers.
    • They don’t like asking questions.
    • 65% of male shoppers who try on an item bought it in comparison to 25% of females – only been put off if the item doesn’t fit( makes a changing room look like a must have).
    • 86% women look at the price tag when they shop, 72% of men do.
    • More men are staying single longer meaning they need to buy products that their generations before them didn’t need too and likewise for women.
    • Signage is a great way of communication
    • Women that might of bought men’s clothes for their partners are now busier.
    • More fathers are looking after their children, making them around more during the daytime and a potential market for buying children’s clothes, but often getting put of by confusion over the sizing.
    • There are more trends than ever that appeal to both genders, women’s skinny jeans are popular now among men just as over-sized knitwear is popular with women.

Making a man feel comfortable in the environment of the shop if your trying to appeal to men and women could be quite difficult without alienating either group. Over the years women have come to visit their local charity shops on their shopping routes in an almost routine like style, making sure to pop in to most just in case they miss out of the latest bargain. It’s the clothing shopping men who have been walking past, peeping in or looking at the window display and deciding not to become in because their first visual impression is that the shop is a ‘woman’ shop. These men are the ones who haven’t wised up to just how good charity shops have become over the last decade. These men walking by making the ideal ‘new’ target customer mainly because they aren’t new, they are already on the high street they just need attracting in. Of course unlike many retailers that aim to appeal to a very clear target market, charity shops can have vast appeal selling such a varied mix of products. So it seems that there are a few keys steps to potentially attract more male customers and turn visits into sales.

Step 1 – Start planning out windows that appeal to men, could be purely clothing and accessories or mixes of products including books, music and homewares.

Step 2 –  The location of the men’s wear, is it viewable from the window, is located too near to the women’s department. If its possible could it be near to the books and music in the shop to encourage more browsing for all departments.

Step 3 – Product – Is there a good mix of casual and formal stock, is it all clearly sized and is there the opportunity to be selling vintage?

Step 4 – Merchandise by type and size, colour blocking just isn’t going to increase sales.

Step 4 – Research current trends every season and make sure you know the current popular brands so you can flag them up to your customers.

Step 5 – Have some clear signage to the changing room.

Step 6 – If your using social media, share pictures of the men’s fashions you have to offer.

Menswear is only going to get bigger and bigger and who knows we might see more and more menswear only stores popping up like this one from Barnardos.


There are loads of shops doing a great job of merchandising their menswear, check these out for inspiration…..

Oxfam Boutique Durham

Sue Ryder Waterlooville
Sue Ryder Waterlooville
Oxfam DIY Glasgow
Oxfam DIY Glasgow
Chest Heart & Stroke Stockbridge
Chest Heart & Stroke Stockbridge
Oxfam Clarkston
Oxfam Clarkston
Sue Ryder Goosegate
Sue Ryder Goosegate

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