A demand from young consumers for fast, in vogue fashion is pressuring retailers to keep up, according to research by Accenture.

The authors say  that younger shoppers are spending more time searching for and buying new fashions online,  and they want those products in their hands as soon as possible.

Kurt Salmon, part of Accenture Strategy, conducted interviews with 23 CEOs and senior executives at leading global fashion retailers to explore the ‘see now, buy now, wear now’ trend and the readiness of retailers to deliver. A survey of 2,000 UK consumers aged between 18 to 55+ was also conducted to understand current appetite for fast fashion.

“Young consumers have a ‘see now, buy now, wear now’ mentality when it comes to fashion, which has been driven by big fashion houses making the latest designs and styles available to buy straight from the catwalk. This is challenging retailers to improve their operational agility to meet rising demand for current trends,” said Dan Murphy, managing director, Kurt Salmon.

With many younger consumers constantly searching for style inspiration on everything from social media to the high street, retailers are under increasing pressure to turn around new lines in record time. Many have been working hard to reduce their lead times to meet this growing demand for fast fashion. One leading fashion retailer is now delivering new lines in two to three weeks; yet speed is only part of the success equation.

“Retailers need to accurately analyse what is selling in real-time and be in a position where they can react quickly,” explained Murphy. “According to one major fashion retailer, there is now only a 24 to 36-hour window from browsing to buying. Retailers that actively engage with their customers, analyse shopping and social media habits, and pre-empt future trends, will be the winners in the fast fashion market.”

Speed of delivery of online orders is also highly important to consumers. Accenture research highlights that one in five of 18 to 20-year-olds want same day delivery, and a further 13 per cent want delivery in less than half a day. Twenty-one to 37-year-olds are slightly more relaxed with almost a third happy for their orders to arrive the next day.

Wear now

The study found that shoppers buy for the present, with 53 per cent of all consumers surveyed wearing items within a week of purchase, and 15 per cent wearing items the very same day. For younger consumers (18 to 24-year-olds), the numbers increase; 60 per cent wear items within a week of purchase, and one in five wear items on the same day of purchase.

While the majority of younger shoppers claim that ethical sustainability is a key factor informing their purchasing decisions, their behaviour suggests otherwise; less than half (48 per cent) of 18 to 24-year-olds recycle their clothes. Additionally, half (50 per cent) of retailers surveyed say they are actively exploring new ways to extend the product lifecycle, using recycled materials, or facilitating clothes swapping and sharing.

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