Logo lovers? Not so much for handbags says NPD

Handbag logosWe’re still logo fans – at least when it comes to buying handbags – but we’re getting less so. That’s the conclusion of a new report from NPD Group.

The researcher said one-third of the handbags purchased in the US in the 12 months to June had no visible logo and sales of logo-free handbags increased their share of the market in the past year, turning into is a style trend that’s crossing generations.

That’s something to which I can only say yippee. Too often an appealing bag is wrecked by a tacky logo and even if the branding is well designed, it can still feel like you’re trying to show off , especially if the world around you can spot the word Prada from the other side of a six-lane highway.

The weird thing is that bags are a product category where we seem to accept screaming logos as the norm. True, many of us wear logo clothing and shoes. Some of us wear such things all the time and all over. But those people should be  pitied and not judged because there’s obviously something weird going on in their heads!

But most of us don’t. Outside of the T-shirt, outerwear or sports market, it’s not usual to advertise the brand name on a sweater, a skirt, or a pair of sandals. Yet we often accept logos on bags without question, partly perhaps because a logo-free option just doesn’t exist.

So the logo-free trend makes me very happy.

But then I would think wouldn’t I? It seems that while logo-free is a cross-generational trend, older consumers prefer it in larger numbers. NPD said sales of handbags with no visible logo were highest among older generations (Boomers and above).

1950s handbagsBut while a survey yesterday that showed logo king Michael Kors was the favourite handbag brand for US teens, younger shoppers are increasingly getting the logo-free bug too. Bags without visible logos saw an 8 share points rise among Gen Z, while sales of such bags were flat to Millennials and Gen X also increased their purchases.

“Consumers are becoming less focused on image and more focused on individuality – especially the younger generations,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc. “While the cachet of designer logos is still relevant for many, the days of consumers looking to be a part of a designer or brand movement are waning in favour of their desire to find the style and function unique to their personality and lifestyle.”

Hmm. I’m not so sure I agree with that 100%, although it’s still a valid point. The fact is that bags without logos can still be instantly recognisable as being from a specific label and even if they’re not, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re making a big statement about individuality as, in many cases, one bag’s very much like another.

Anyway, NPD’s report, The New Handbag Customer Revealed 2016, found that 81% of Millennials said it was important to them that the logo on their handbag be subtle.

It seems that’s why the handbag logo placement that experienced the most notable market loss in the 12 months ending June 2016 was the in-material pattern style. Even though Millennials generally want the handbags they splurge on to be recognisable, they’re increasingly seeking this recognition through distinction of design. Personalisation options for handbags, like key fobs, interchangeable straps, and patches, are becoming more prevalent.

“Millennials have launched a movement of individuality en masse that is greatly influencing retail, including the fashion industry,” added Cohen. “Handbag manufacturers and marketers in general have been tasked by this up-and-coming generation and their more mature counterparts to demonstrate their creativity and get their consumer’s attention in new ways.” 

NPD handbag logos

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