Menswear Revenues Are Expected to Outpace the Womenswear Market

The demand for men's fashion is steadily increasing, but are brands responding well enough with their digital channels?
By Maria Bobila,
Maden Noir's Spring 2018 presentation at New York Fashion Week: Men's. Photo: Imaxtree

On Wednesday, digital intelligence firm L2 released a new report on menswear, delving into how brands are catering to the men's customer online. Nicknamed the "dark horse of fashion," menswear has always come second to the womenswear market, but interest in and investments towards men's products have only increased in recent years. Take, for example, Stella McCartney and Isabel Marant, which are historically known as women's-focused brands, but have recently launched collections for men. (Plus, for the 2017 LVMH Prize Shortlist, menswear designers outnumbered womenswear.) On the retail front, Nordstrom is making its New York City debut with a men's flagship, a first for the department store.

Through its recent findings, L2 expects menswear revenues to outpace the womenswear market, with a compounded annual growth of five percent over the next two years. "As demand for menswear continues to grow, it is essential for brands that carry both men's and women's products to target men both on brand site and in digital marketing across the web," notes the report, which examined up to 59 brands that exclusively offer menswear, womenswear or both men's and women's products. Read on to find out how brands can use best practices to cater to the menswear customer across their digital channels.

Pay Attention to Customer Data

Although 86 percent of the brands that L2 studied collect customer gender data, only 41 percent actually use this information to tailor subject lines of emails towards a specific gender, which will further personalize the customer's online shopping experience. "Brands with male audiences that fail to target men in email marketing will lose out on a chance to engage a substantial portion of their email lists," says L2. For example, while 15 of 24 studied brands have higher open rates for menswear-targeted emails, only six percent of the campaigns executed by these brands actually focus on the men's customer in their subject lines.

Make Menswear More Visible Online

As interest in menswear grows, so should its online real estate on brands' websites. According to L2, a third of the studied brands that carry menswear fail to feature men's products on their sites' homepages, while an additional 19 percent feature menswear content below the fold, or not even on the landing page at all. In this case, Calvin Klein's most-viewed product page of 2017 was its men's underwear page, but the brand primarily promotes womenswear on its homepage.

"Fashion brands should monitor menswear landing page views relative to womenswear pages and proportionately allocate homepage content to each segment," tips L2, which uses Alexander Wang as an example. The New York-based brand is heavily known for its women's collections, but makes its menswear line increasingly visible online and across its digital channels. As a result, Alexander Wang's menswear category is the third-most viewed page on the brand's site.

Take Advantage of Social Media and Influencers

It's already known that most customers discover brands and products on social media, but menswear brands are still behind when it comes to actively posting content, specifically on Instagram, where 24 percent of American men are active. Analyzed brands had 53 percent fewer posts, 75 percent fewer follows and 82 percent fewer total interactions on average compared to its peers, according to L2. The digital intelligence firm calls out Hugo Boss and Supreme for exemplary Instagram content, while Brioni and Dunhill "lag significantly."

Beyond Instagram (and Facebook and YouTube), however, where do menswear-only brands get their most social referral traffic from? Reddit, mainly because its users are heavily male, but also because the online site hosts a significant amount of fashion-specific forums. (On the flip side, womenswear-only brands receive a large share of social referrals from Pinterest.)

Working with influencers is also growing practice by menswear brands, though the approach is somewhat different to womenswear. While women's brands are starting to collaborate with more and more microinfluencers, L2 finds that celebrities, mainly athletes and musicians, still have a stronger impact for promoting menswear. 

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