"With increasing value there is increasing purchase consideration," said Ted Marzilli, CEO of YouGov's BrandIndex, which measures daily brand perception among consumers. "It's a bit of an advantage for some of the mass retailers."
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Ahead of the companies' earnings reports, which begin to trickle in next week, YouGov recently conducted a study among 6,000 women with children under the age of 18, asking for their perception of more than 20 popular retail chains. It asked the parents whether they think each retailer offers a good value for what they pay, and whether they would consider making a purchase from the brand.
Among more than 20 brands, Wal-Mart ranked first in purchase consideration, with 65 percent of parents saying they would consider the brand the next time they are shopping for footwear or apparel. The big-box discounter was followed by Target, with a score of 43 percent. Old Navy, Kohl's and J.C. Penney rounded out the top five, all with scores higher than 26 percent.
These figures compare with American Eagle's score of 17 percent, Aeropostale's 16 percent and Abercrombie & Fitch's 7 percent. Fellow teen retailer Urban Outfitters, which aims to sell more of an eclectic assortment than the other teen stores, also came in with a low score, of 6 percent.
"We've seen [this] over the last two years with back to school," Brean Capital analyst Eric Beder said, adding that back-to-school shopping tends to be more heavily skewed toward parents making the transactions, versus kids visiting the mall on their own.
In other words, winning mom and dad's stamp of approval is critical.
This is particularly true during economic slowdowns, Beder said, as parents tend to be more involved in what their teens are spending money on when cash is tight. Instead of sending them to the mall with $200, they accompany their children on mall visits to ensure they are putting their money to good use.