Blog: Leonie BarrieVanity sizing alienates shoppers

Leonie Barrie | 16 August 2010

Vanity sizing is becoming the norm among some mass retailers, who believe they can encourage shoppers to buy their clothes simply by re-labelling them with smaller sizes to make them more appealing. After all, the logic goes, consumers may feel guilty if they do not measure up to model statistics, so why not try to lure them into a purchase by labelling a size 14 garment as a size 8 instead?

But new research suggests shoppers simply aren't buying into the vanity sizing tactic. Yes vanity sizing is affecting buying habits, but not in the way retailers would prefer.  

What's happening, in fact, is that shoppers are now so unhappy with the differences in clothes sizes between one store and another that four in ten of them stick to just a few shops where they know the sizes will fit and the styles will suit their shape.

The findings, which are part of Mintel's latest research on the plus-size market for women's wear, also point to mid-market retailers as the biggest culprits. Nearly half of people who shop here say sizes lack consistency.

So while vanity sizing may have been introduced in order to appeal to consumers and encourage buying, it is actually having the opposite effect. The challenge now is for retailers to regain the confidence of consumers over sizing if they want to win them back.

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