Nearly two-thirds of U.S. households purchased fashion accessories, such as handbags, wallets, belts, shoes, etc. A new category added to this year's survey, fashion accessories are an important discretionary purchase for many consumers.

Industry Snapshot

Personal consumption of fashion accessories totaled $53.2 billion, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Sales rose about 2.8 percent from 2000 to 2002, with strongest growth generated in the shoe category (see figure 6.2). Sales of luggage for men and women, which includes wallets, handbags, and other accessories, as well as travel luggage, declined as consumers cut back on travel in the post-9/11 landscape.




% CHG '00–'02

Total Personal Consumption in millions








Luggage for women




Luggage for men




Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Figure 6.2: Fashion Accessories Industry Snapshot

Coach, with sales of $950 million, is a major player in the U.S. fashion accessories business. The company specializes in leather-crafted accessories and gifts for women and men including handbags, business cases, luggage and travel accessories, wallets, outerwear, and gloves. They also have added scarves and fine jewelry to their mix as well as watches, footwear, and furniture through licensing partnerships. Thus Coach is building a lifestyle brand that will serve many facets of their customers' lives. As they extend their brand into new categories, they also are expanding their distribution strategy to meet different segments of the market in the places where they choose to shop. They currently operate over 200 Coach full-priced stores, and maintain branded Coach boutiques in leading department stores and specialty retailer locations. They have dedicated Coach outlets scattered throughout the country in off-price fashion outlet malls, as well as an online store. The company is being rewarded for their expansive approach with net sales rising 32 percent in fiscal 2003.

Retail Overview

Three types of stores dominate where consumers shop for fashion accessories. Department stores with their strong emphasis on fashion are shopped by 60 percent of accessories buyers, followed by discount department stores, chosen by half of the shoppers. Specialty clothing stores, including shoe and jewelry stores, were used by 46 percent of shoppers in the past year. (Note: This does not add up to 100 percent due to shoppers' shopping in multiple stores over the course of the year.) An important emerging source for fashion accessories are non-store retailers, notably the Internet, television shopping channels, and mail order catalogs. Some 17 percent of accessories shoppers used these outlets to make purchases.

Purchase Drivers

The "fashionistas" would have us all carefully buy new fashion accessories—shoes, handbags, scarves, and the rest—to coordinate with each of our outfits. But in reality few consumers have the luxury of paying such careful attention to their fashion accessories. Only 45 percent of female fashion consumers agreed with the statement: "I have a wardrobe of classic clothing styles and designs that I update regularly by buying new fashion accessories and accents." The young aged 18 to 24 and the affluent with incomes of $75,000 or more are the consumers most likely to pay special attention to their fashion accessories. Not too many others are willing to pony up $1,500 for the latest Louis Vuitton Dhanura yoga bag to carry around their yoga outfits and mats in style. For most everybody else, the basic accessories, purchased as needed, will do.

Demographic Variables

It's no surprise that women are the primary buyers of fashion accessories. Some 71 percent of women, as compared with 56 percent of men, bought fashion accessories in the past year. The young consumers aged 18 to 34 have the highest purchase incidence, though purchases remain fairly strong through age 65, after which it drops sharply. Consumers living the in the Northeast, including the major cities New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C, are the biggest consumers of fashion accessories, as compared with shoppers living in the south, west, or north central regions. All ethnicities buy accessories at the same pace.

Rising income is correlated with purchase incidence and starts to rise at the middle-income $35,000 level. The most affluent consumers, with incomes of $75,000 and above, purchase at the most active rate of all. This is not a category linked to household size or presence of children, though the more educated consumers tend to buy more.

Key Demographics of Fashion Accessories Buyers.

  • Women take the lead, though men also buy.

  • Younger consumers, under age 34, buy more but incidence remains high through age 64.

  • Rising income impacts buying, with most affluent buying more.

  • Consumers living in the Northeast buy more.

  • More educated consumers buy more.

Why People Buy Things They Don't Need. Understanding and Predicting Consumer Behavior
Why People Buy Things They Dont Need: Understanding and Predicting Consumer Behavior
ISBN: 0793186021
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 137

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