Unless you’re compulsive about clipping coupons and searching for sales, there are times you’re just going to have to pay full price. When it comes to purchasing clothing, though, that’s not necessarily the case. A new survey of shoppers finds that a majority says clothing had better be discounted – or they’re not buying.

They just don’t necessarily agree on what types of discounts are most appealing, and most trustworthy. A coupon code that entices one shopper, might be eyed with suspicion by another.

The retail consulting and research firm 2 Visions has released its “Ecommerce Discounting & Promotions Report,” which found that above all else, promotions have the greatest impact on online clothing shoppers’ purchasing behavior. But whether discounts are most effective in the form of coupons or across-the-board sale prices, depends on the shopper.

“Consumers are savvier than ever before. They know that if they wait, chances are high that a discount will become available,” the report reads. For sellers, though, “the crux of the issue lies in discounting and promotional strategies: How much is too much?” And should a seller make a discount available to everyone, or just to certain shoppers – and will shoppers even trust they’re getting the best deal if they receive the wrong type of offer?

Overall, 62% of the shoppers surveyed said they primarily wait to buy clothing until they can get it at a discount. Those shoppers don’t seem to get too excited about a 15% discount, but “20% off” starts to get their attention. “This indicates that ‘20% Off’ might be a psychological threshold where discounts start to become significantly more attractive,” the report reads. When that discount jumps to 50% off, it’s practically irresistible – shoppers are 99% more likely to purchase a product that’s half-off, as opposed to 20% off.


“This suggests that more aggressive discount strategies might be more appealing to at least half of shoppers,” the report advises sellers.

But the depth of the discount isn’t all that matters. It’s also the way the discount is delivered.

Younger generations are more likely to believe that coupon codes found online help them get the best deals. Millennials, in particular, like it when coupon codes are sent directly to them via email or text. Older shoppers, however, don’t trust either of these methods as much. Unsure about whether online coupon codes will always work, or will provide the best deal, older generations tend to trust across-the-board discounts more than specific coupon offers.

“Marketing approaches need to be adapted to these generational preferences,” the report advises. Even if it offers the same discount – a 20% sitewide sale, versus a coupon code for 20% off – a promotion that entices a member of one generation, may turn off another.

For shoppers who are willing to wait for a deal – in whatever form it’s offered – “price sensitivity and patience can be a potent combination in the online shopping world,” the report concludes. For sellers, that means “it’s not just about telling your customers that you offer good value; it’s about showing them through attractive discounts.”

For some purchases, like groceries, personal products or household supplies, if you need it now, you may not be able to wait for a deal. But clothing appears to be in a category of its own. Even if it means you have nothing to wear for a while, it seems few shoppers are willing to pay full price. Whether a discount comes in the form of a coupon or a sale, a price promotion could ultimately make the difference between making a purchase – and doing without.

Image source: Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

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