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American fashion retailer Forever 21 opened its first shop in Brazil at the end of March, causing quite the stir among local shoppers. According to the local press, shoppers in São Paulo had to wait in line up to seven hours before getting their chance to even set foot in the store, let alone take advantage of the traditionally low prices offered by the popular retailer. In order to analyze this current retail phenomenon in Brazil, Mintel has invited three of its analysts from different parts of the globe to weigh in.

AliLipson_blogAli Lipson, Senior Retail and Apparel Analyst:

“Forever 21 is widely popular in the US for its “fast fashion” positioning. On-trend items are offered and updated frequently, encouraging shoppers to stop in often to see what’s new. Adding to the appeal is the company’s low prices. This perfect mix of stylish clothing at the right price appeals to young adults, primarily women, across the US.

According to Mintel’s Women’s Clothes Shopping – US 2013, some 21% of women have purchased clothing at a “fast fashion” store, with 50% of women aged 18-24 shopping in this channel and 30% of those aged 25-34. Women under age 35 are most interested in shopping among all age groups– 53% of 18-24 year old women and 47% of women aged 25-34 enjoy shopping for clothes.

Due to Forever 21’s wide success in the US, it’s no surprise that the next step would be to expand into new territories. The novelty factor of a new store in Brazil, coupled with the store’s positioning as a place to find the latest styles at low prices surely helped create the significant buzz and foot traffic upon opening.”

Sheila_blogSheila Salina, Brazil’s Lifestyle Research Analyst:

“According to our Consumer Spending Habits – Brazil 2013 report, 79% of all consumers say, ‘I would be proud to tell my friends about any good bargains I find.’ This number reaches to 84% when only the 25-34 female consumers are analyzed. Meanwhile, 84% of all consumers say that, ‘It’s a good feeling to know I spend less than others on the same/similar products.’ This figure jumps to an impressive 91% for females between 25-34 years old.

The target audience has a lot to do with the stir this store opening created. Their clients are mainly women between 25 and 35 years old (C1, B1 and B2 socioeconomic groups) and financially independent. They are not into designer brands, but they want to feel special. Forever 21 tapped into this desire by opening its first shop in Brazil in a shopping mall where upper middle class consumers shop. In addition, as an American brand, Forever 21 can offer the exclusivity of an imported brand, but at bargain prices.”

Stacy_Glasgow_blogStacy Glasgow, Consumer Trends Analyst:

“From a global trends perspective, we see that as price becomes an increasingly challenging tool to compete with, a need has arisen for retailers to differentiate themselves through basic store facets such as range, quality, store environment, store standards and service. Standing out from the competition depends on a retailer excelling at such basics and delivering the consumer a truly exciting and exclusive experience. Forever 21 could be positioned for success in Brazil as this in-store ‘experience’ is served up as a large, colorful, on-trend American shop.

And with so many consumers today, seeing personalization as a right, not a privilege (a concept explored in Mintel trend piece Make It Mine), Forever 21 is right on the mark in allowing shoppers to easily and affordably put together one-of-a-kind outfits that reflect their unique personalities.”

Ali Lipson is a senior analyst with Mintel specializing in retail and apparel. With over 10 years of experience, Ali is an expert at identifying and analyzing retail and consumer trends and providing actionable insights to clients.

Sheila Salina is senior research analyst at Mintel with over ten years experience in the research and intelligence market sectors. Before joining Mintel, she worked for Deloitte, analyzing trends related to emerging companies.

Stacy Glasgow is a consumer trends consultant at Mintel. She specializes in Inspire trends that will propel businesses forward and comes from a diverse background that includes CPG, agency, and marketing experience.