NPD report finds US consumers are thrifty, avoiding aspirational brands

A new study by NPD has found that the market is shifting, with consumer-born trends being the key catalyst for purchases.

Hermès Birkin Bag, one of the most popular aspirational purchases – ANSA

Previously, designers were setting the trends in apparel and accessories, while consumers clamored to purchase whatever brands were putting on the shelves. Purchasing a designer item, specifically items with more aspirational qualities, meant elevating a consumer’s financial and social status.

But the NPD has found the tables have turned in the past few year. Instead of designers setting the trends, consumers are the ones with the power, as retailers, manufacturers, and designers fight to meet consumer needs. The research by the NPD has also found that the idea of ‘aspirational’ shopping is no longer as important – even affluent consumers feel comfortable shopping in dollar stores or discount stores. 

The NPD said the cause of this shift could be comfort – consumers are more focused on comfort and ease of products and shopping experience then they are showing off by shopping in luxury retailers or purchasing aspirational products. Consumers want to feel like themselves, not portray a more affluent version of themselves to the public. 

Of particular interest, millennials are less inclined to look to credit and more inclined to spend frugally. 

But this shift doesn’t mean customers aren’t willing to spend money. Shoppers are still spending, but they are choosing to carefully research each item prior to purchasing, focusing on few larger, signature purchases over flashier pieces.

Because of this, aspirational brands are no longer leading the charge. Shoppers are more drawn to spending their money on one-of-a-kind or signature items – like large-screen TVs, vintage collectibles, or handcrafted products.

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