What we learned from analyzing over 8,000 customer reviews of major clothing brands

What we learned from analyzing over 8,000 customer reviews of major clothing brands

To investigate the public perception of fashion brands, we’ve analyzed over 8,000 customer reviews of four brands and applied Thematic to find insights in this data. We chose three brands that directly compete in the US fast-fashion world, H&M, Forever21, Charlotte Russe, and one brand that targets the same audience but operates as solely an online store, Lulus.

Let’s look at how customers perceive these brands using data from analyzing the customer reviews: Which brand has the best quality clothes? Which one has the most extensive selection of sizes online? Which brand has outstanding customer service? But, let’s start with why these insights matter in the first place.

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Why insights from customer reviews matter for brands

Today, technology has revolutionized the way we shop. At a click of a button, you can shop to your heart’s content, and buy anything from anywhere. And while this means retailers can reach more customers than ever before, it also means brands need to compete for customer love on a global scale. Those who aren’t attuned to customer needs will fail.

The way brands interact with customers has changed, too. Back in the days, you would need to run a focus group to figure out what your customers think. It would take weeks to collect and analyze the data. Today, thousands of reviews roam freely online, allowing brands to see what customers like and dislike. If only they would listen!

Example online website reviews

Example of reviews from one of the online websites

The vast amount of data that exists out there can be difficult to digest. Fortunately, there’s an easy way of analyzing customer reviews and understand them at scale. At Thematic, we pull deep insights from free-text customer feedback, cross-correlating themes with satisfaction scores and purchase data. Below are some initial insights we’ve found in publicly available reviews.

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Which fashion brand has the best quality clothes?

Quality is one of the most popular themes amongst the customers of clothing brands. One brand in particular had twice as many customers talking about “good quality” compared to other brands – Lulus.

Lulus good quality customer mentions graph

Interestingly, fast-fashion brands are both known for cheaply manufactured clothing “designed to fall apart”, but according to online reviews, customers actually perceive quality differently. H&M clearly outperforms Forever21 and Charlotte Russe when it comes to perception of good quality.

Lulus have realized that quality and ethics matters to their target market and have included a “Made in the USA” section on their website.

Which brand has the best variety of clothes and shoes?

When it comes to variety, H&M, Forever21 and Charlotte Russe have an equal amount of positive and negative reviews, although Lulus clearly falls behind with regards to both their selection of clothes and shoes.

1 or 2 star reviews mentioning variety of clothes graph

The number of respondents who left 1 or 2-star reviews and mention the variety of clothes and shoe selection.

On the other hand, Charlotte Russe has four times as many happy customers who like their shoe selection as any other brand:

Charlotte Russe positive shoe selection mentions graph

Which brand has the best customer service?

Finally, another key theme driving the satisfaction score is customer service. We’ve compared customers who mentioned this theme in 1, 2 or 3-star reviews versus the 4 and 5-star reviews across four brands:

Lulus best customer service graph

Lulus comes up top in this category. Not a single review of Lulus mentioned customer service in negative light. And it’s the number one theme that drives their score up:

Lulu positive customer service impact graph

Size selection better online for one brand

Another interesting insight we found: One brand’s online experience had a much better size selection than their physical stores. Three times as many customers mentioned size when they gave 5 star reviews for their online purchase, versus their store purchase. That brand was Charlotte Russe. Its online stores also outperformed the other four brands when it came to size selection. Taking a closer look at the reviews, we found that their plus size range drives the score up. We wonder, would advertising this competitive advantage accelerate sales?

Charlotte Russe online customer sizing mentions graph

On the flip side, their clothes were not perceived as nearly as “cute” online, as they did in retail stores. What would make this brand’s cuteness factor stand out for its online shoppers?

Charlotte Russe online shopper lack of cuteness graph

In summary, Charlotte Russe outperforms the other stores when it comes to size and shoe selection, according to the customer reviews. Lulu’s reviews in terms of customer service and quality (or perception of quality), are the most positive ones.

The new way of benchmarking brands, powered by AI

Market research companies charge an arm and a leg for tracking studies that benchmark brands against one another, however in most cases all they provide is a dashboard of scores, failing to provide any real actionable insights.

With the help of the latest AI technology, such as Thematic’s algorithms, brands can pull deeper, actionable insights from customer review data, as shown here. Tracking public perception of different brands over time can be as easy as clicking a button, with the right tools. At Thematic, we can run a similar analysis for you, including your key competitors, to help you discover what you’re doing well and what you could improve.

Keen to see a demo of this data, or your own customer reviews or survey responses? It’s as simple as requesting a demo on your data.

Want to see a Thematic demo on your data? 

You’ll learn some common themes, trends over time and what variables affect your satisfaction scores. Most companies who see this demo learn new things about their customers!

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