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The ASOS effect: online fashion sales on the rise

As of December 2012, 7.6% of Aussies aged 14+ (or 1,430,000 people) had made an online fashion purchase in any given four weeks — up from 5.7% (or 1,062,000) one year earlier.

In news to make any traditional fashion retailer’s heart sink, British online retailer ASOS recently revealed that Australia is its single largest foreign market — with Australians buying something from the ASOS website every 6 seconds. Indeed, as the latest figures from Roy Morgan Research confirm, fashion products are the second-most popular category of online purchase by Australians (after Entertainment and Leisure) — and their popularity is growing.

As of December 2012, 7.6% of Aussies aged 14+ (or 1,430,000 people) had made an online fashion purchase in any given four weeks — up from 5.7% (or 1,062,000) one year earlier.

So who are these online fashionistas?

Not surprisingly, the majority of Australians buying fashion products from websites such as ASOS are women (67.6%). And their numbers are increasing: in the last year, the proportion of Australian women purchasing items from every sub-category — women’s clothing; shoes; underwear, socks and hosiery; even menswear — grew significantly. Women’s clothing and footwear, in particular, have experienced an online sales boom, with the amount of women buying them increasing by more than 50%.

Online fashion-purchasing habits by Australian women by sub-category, 2011-2012

The ASOS effect chart

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), 12 months to Dec 11 (n =10,352) and 12 months to Dec 12 (n=12,107).

Contrary to what one might assume, given the cheaper prices generally available over the internet, scoring a bargain is not the main motivation for women purchasing fashion products online. Far more important is quality, with 75% of them agreeing with the statement ‘I believe quality is more important than price’.

Trendsetting to impress

Staying on trend and making an impression are also key drivers for women buying fashion products online. Compared to the average Australian woman, they’re 73% likelier to agree with the statement ‘I wear clothes that will get me noticed’ and 30% likelier to agree that ‘It’s important to look fashionable.’ Among those who bought women’s clothing specifically (as opposed to the other sub-categories), this contrast is even more pronounced.

Shop til you drop (or until your computer crashes)

In encouraging news for bricks-and-mortar department stores and boutiques, women who buy fashion products online are 20% more likely than the average Australian woman to enjoy clothes shopping and 49% likelier to agree with the statement ‘I was born to shop’.

So while online retailers like ASOS are making it easier than ever for these women to get their fashion fix with diverse stock and quick delivery times, they can’t provide the personalised experience and opportunity to ‘try-before-you-buy’ that shopping on-site can.

Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

The recent announcement by online retailer ASOS about their booming Australian market confirms Roy Morgan’s findings that an increasing number of Australians – women in particular – are buying fashion products online.

Looking stylish and getting noticed are strong motivators for these women. Being able to purchase items quickly and easily from the British-based ASOS, therefore, would be very appealing for them: not only can they get a jumpstart on seasonal trends, but they can buy clothes that won’t necessarily be available in Australian boutiques.

“Understanding women who buy fashion products over the internet, and strategically catering to their special demands, may be one way for traditional retailers to hold onto their share of the Australian fashion market.”

Click here to view our extensive range of Online Shopper Profiles, including Women’s clothing, Men’s clothing, Shoes/footwear and more, or our range of Media Profiles including internet, social media, television, pay TV, radio and more.  These profiles provide a broad understanding of the target audience, in terms of demographics, attitudes, activities and media usage in Australia.