• Sales promotion strategies were visibly different between mass-market and premium. Retviews observed a drop compared to 2019 in the share of discounted articles and average discount for the Mass-Market, while the premium segment experienced the opposite.
• The premium market most heavily discounted categories like sweatshirts and denim.
• Mass-market fashion retailers came into the end-of-season period with a higher level of discounts than last year.
Since the pandemic hit our daily lives, retailers were looking at the end-of-season sales period like a turning point of the year. Many were fearing a discount frenzy, which in the end did not really happen. According to Retviews data, we saw an uptick in promotions and deals during the confinement period. However, no massive promotional actions were taken by the retailers. Now that the sales period is over, let’s have a look at how brands have decided to tackle the trickiest period of the year.
Mass-market vs. Premium brands: opposite discounting strategies
When comparing 2019 to 2020, we see an almost 50% decrease in terms of share of discounted articles for the European market. The big players such as H&M and Zara have decreased their share of discounted articles by 25%. Parallel to that, the average discount rate observed on the market has decreased by 10%.
Retailers have an annual reduction costs budget that is planned during the budget validation. The pandemic has forced retailers to try and grab the customers’ attention as much as possible, and thus commercial actions had to be taken, such as member deals, extra promos, etc.
Therefore, promotions that were not planned in advance probably impacted the discount budget, making the merchandisers reduce their share of discounted articles for the end-of-season sales.
In the case of the premium segment, we observe the opposite sales strategy. According to Retviews data, we see that the premium market has increased its share of discounted articles by 7% and the average discount rate by 5% compared to last year’s end-of-season sales. Some brands, however, did not follow the market trend such as The Kooples. The rock chic French brand decreased its share of discounted articles by a quarter compared to last year, offering its promotion’s articles at a 5% lower average discount rate.
Swimwear on low discount
Within the mass-market segment, the most heavily discounted categories in terms of average discounts were: bodysuits, sweatshirts, and knitwear. These three categories had the highest average discount rate. It can be either due to the product itself or due to the lack of size available as the product sold pretty well. Thus, the size curve cannot be secured and this could justify such a sales promotion strategy.
Also, what we see with Retviews data is that swimwear was not even part of the most discounted categories nor the most heavily discounted ones. Is it because of the decrease of new arrivals of swimwear with the pandemic or is it more a strategic choice from the brands?
In comparison, the premium segment opted to heavily discount categories such as trench coats, jeans & pants, shirts, and sweaters. What could justify this sales strategy while those articles could have been saved for the back-to-school or simply kept for the fall season?
More variations in discounts observed this year compared to 2019
This year, the mass-market brands came to the sales period with a higher discount rate than last year. However, the variations were more gradual and not as substantial as last year, apart from Mango. On this graph, we can see that retailers had different strategies as Zara continuously added a few articles each week while H&M did not.
The contrary is observable for the premium segment. Last year, retailers came to the end-of-season sales period with a higher level of discount and then remained steady in terms of evolution.
This year, variations were more observable, especially for Zadig&Voltaire and Sandro. What we observed throughout the period is that premium brands opted for a different sales strategy than the mass-market. At the same time, in terms of the average discount rate, this year the premium brands had a much higher rate than the mass-market. Is it a hint of a slight struggle from this market segment?
What is the aftermath
Sales promotion strategies were very distinct from the mass market to the premium market. The discount rate varied significantly from 2019 to 2020 and the pandemic must have played a role in such strategies.
However, some questions arise in terms of product selections. What is going to happen with all the swimwear of 2020? Why have premium brands decided to tackle articles that could have been kept at full-price for the transitional period?
We will see at the end of the year which sales strategy paid off.