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The modern consumer

IS there a tangible change to the modern consumer?

If I use Hamilton as a basis for what is happening out in the big, wide yonder – then let’s see how our local retailers are gauging the market trends.

I asked some of our retailers some questions around the modern consumer and if there has been a noticeable change in purchasing and mindset.

  • K.H. – Kate Hunt, owner, Presence – clothing, Hamilton.
  • J.F. – June Frost, retail assistant, R&E Scott – manchester and homewares, Hamilton.
  • M.B. – Marita Buckle, owner, Buckle Menswear – clothing, Hamilton.

Hamilton is known for ‘wool’. There appears to be a trend towards a more ethical, sustainable, and environmentally friendly clothing purchasing - would you agree?
K.H. – Definitely agree. Fashion was sadly developing to be instant, throw away, cheap, and bought to be worn once, especially in the younger market. Consumers are becoming more aware of the environment and learning more about ethical fibres, fair workplaces, animal welfare, pollution and chemicals used in the fabric processing methods. They are being educated on the importance of sustainable products and the younger generations are following the sage advice of their elders that you spend money on quality items, and they will last for years to come.
J. F. – Yes, we would agree, however the cost of wool can persuade customers to purchase something cheaper.
M.B. – As we have always stocked only quality items in our store, we have not really noticed a change in trends.

Is provenance an importance consideration to the consumer now?
K.H. – There is a big push to shop local - this goes for supporting local retail businesses as well as buying Australian.
J. F. – Yes, it is, but it often comes down to cost.
M.B. – Yes, provenance is important. There is an increasing preference for Australian made.

What do your customers discuss with you regarding their purchases?
K.H. – Customers often enquire which brands are made with Australian wool and/or manufactured in Australia. It’s a massive selling point especially with COVID-19.
J.F. – The quality of what they are buying, is it Australian, the qualities of the product i.e., in the case of wool – its warming and cooling properties, and the cost.
M.B. – Our customers appreciate the level of stock holding and the emphasis on our classic range.

Do your customers understand the quality of your woollen products?
K.H. – Being based in the heart of wool country, our customers understand the benefits of wool and want to buy 100 per cent wool products. It’s seriously cold here and layers of wool is essential!
J.F. – Mostly they do. They understand that you get what you pay for, and that wool can be expensive.
M.B. – We are happy to highlight the many advantages of wool to customers who do not already have an understanding that wool is naturally stain resistant, breathable, cool in summer and warm in winter.

What is it that your customers are seeking from their garments/products now? Has it changed or shifted in priorities?
K.H. – Every winter we notice the trend for buying clothing made from 100 per cent Australian wool increase. This year the demand has included being made in Australia as well. Our customers understand that the price is usually higher being made locally but are happy to support our local industries.
J.F. – There has not been a great shift. Being in a wool district there has always been an element of the community that appreciate woollen products.
M.B. – Our garments are carefully chosen to reflect quality, justifying their price points, therefore, customers can expect extended life from their purchase.

Has your focus on what you buy for your store changed?
K.H. – Our focus has always been on Australian brands (with a few essential NZ ones sneaking in). Any new brands we bring on board we try to make sure they are Australian owned and manufactured. We have amazing designers and manufacturing capabilities onshore and showcasing them in our store makes me and our loyal customers very happy.
J.F. – Not really. We always keep a good stock of our woollen products – quilts, blankets, underlays, and pillows.
M.B. – We have always maintained a high standard when buying for our store, however a range of price points is also a consideration. We feel personalised customer service is gratefully received by customers and paramount to the success of our business.

Let’s hope for all of us, that this trend continues. At the end of the day – it’s up to us. We have the power to keep our local employment levels up and our shops open. Remember also, that all our sporting and service clubs are supported by local businesses – it’s a circle – let’s keep it strong.

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