What Kate and Katy can tell us about where fashionistas shop

Have you ever walked past a fashion retailer, looked at the shop, product is great, lighting is strong, point of sale looks good – and yet, it just doesn’t feel it’s you?

What is driving this feeling? And more importantly: Why?

For years, we have satisfied ourselves with the “how” consumers interact with our brands. The missing link has always been the “why” consumers choose our fashion brands and products over our competitors – or why not.

Are these random and unpredictable acts? Consumer neuroscience has discovered over the past decade that it is actually our subconscious limbic system that determines up to 95% of our decisions. It is the subconscious that answers the question as to “why” and this is far from random or unpredictable.

Let me provide this example to make the point:

Imagine you have a fashion brand, targeting women between 25 and 35 years, with income over $1 million – a classic demographic segmentation.

However, it goes without saying that there are worlds between two women who would fall into this demographic segment – Katy Perry, the Queen of Pop and Kate, the future Queen of England.

Both, their life choices as well as their fashion choices can only be addressed by understanding their personality types, which will explain the ‘why’.

Limbic® Personality Types: neuropsychological consumer profiling

It is by understanding consumers’ personality types and their subconscious emotional drivers that we get to understand why they connect with certain brands – and why not. What is meaningful to them and what is just marketing noise. Which shopping experience gets them to vote with their wallets and which turns them away?

According to neuroscience research, 7 different clusters of people can be found: The structured Disciplined, the ambitious Performer, the risk taking Adventurer, the fun loving Hedonist, the optimistic Open-minded, the caring Harmoniser and the orderly Traditionalist.


The 7 Limbic® Personality Types. Source: RDG Insights Pty Ltd © 2014

Now let me share with you a brief insight into two of the seven existing consumer segments and where their personalities direct them to shop.

Let’s continue our example of Kate and Katy and how their personalities would direct them to shop at certain retail brands. Admittedly, we haven’t tested them personally but their behaviours, hobbies and looks reveal a great deal about them (although they might surprise us!).

Kate the Traditionalist
Queen Elizabeth II's Birthday Parade: Trooping The Colour

Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.

Brain and behaviour of the Traditionalist

The concentration of noradrenaline and cortisol is considerably increased in the Traditionalist’s brain. As a result, the Traditionalist is risk adverse and rather not seeking new experiences. She examines everything thoroughly, is measured and often described as ‘normal’. Uncertainty is her biggest enemy. Traditionalists seek order, control and stability and therefore love and preserve rituals and traditions.

Store experience and visual merchandising for Traditionalists

Focus on (certified) quality; clear structures, cleanliness and a comprehensible guiding system.
Subtle and natural colours and a clear assortment with only few product alternatives are preferred. Local is a bonus and consistency is an absolute must.

Trenery and Country Road are examples of local retailers that implement these aspects and are targeted at Traditionalists and Disciplined. When we measured the impact and segment attraction, we found that their stores precisely hit the mark with these two personality segments.

rdg insights

How do you think Katy Perry might feel about this shop? As you can see in the results above, being a Hedonist, she would happily skip this store when browsing in the mall (their attraction is significantly below average, with an Index of 80). Marketing this brand to Katy would be a waste of time and money.

Katy the Hedonist
katy perry

Katy Perry, ‘Queen of Pop’.

Brain and behaviour of the Hedonist
The brain of Hedonists is dominated by the happiness hormone dopamine. As a consequence, Hedonists are driven by creativity, innovations, and extraordinary experiences rather than relying on reflection. They often appear as very individualistic, are spontaneous, curious and actively avoid routines.

Store experience and visual merchandising for Hedonists

Playful, creative and fun environments, a strong multi-sensory experience, intense lighting and bright signage naturally attract Hedonists. Hedonists are all about curiosity, variety and discovery and, as you can see below, the retailer Peter Alexander caters exactly to these emotional needs and captures this very consumption oriented segment.

rdg insights 2

As you can see the only thing the two fashionistas Kate and Katy share is their demographic age, gender and income cluster but they are, in reality, worlds apart. Their individual emotional drivers will determine what they expect when shopping – from the right message, to the right brand and product cues, right through to the type of service and in-store design they will go for. After all, their personalities will tell them where to shop.

If you would like to find out more about who your fashion customers really are and how to increase impact with them please contact Katharina under katharina@rdginsights.com.au

Katharina KuehnAbout the Author:

Katharina Kuehn is Director of RDG Insights, who specialise in providing retailers and brands with neuromarketing insights and their application to strategic branding and the point of sale. Katharina is a specialist practitioner of Limbic®, one of the most recognised and scientifically best established behaviour & emotions models for the retail and consumer goods industry worldwide. Katharina consults, presents, writes and interviews regularly on the topic of neuromarketing in retail.

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