N Brown / Supergroup / French Connection

Google trends for fashion trends

I like data! It’s nice to have things to look at and analyse, which is probably why I’m so interested in investing. I like weighing things up, seeing how x and y variable performs, and trying to find ways of using data that other people haven’t thought of. I remember a colleague a while ago showing me Google Trends - something which struck me as interesting, but nothing I’d found a use for. Now I find myself pondering the intricacies of the fashion world and wondering how I can possibly decide what was going up and down – Google Trends may just have found a curious application.

What does it do? Well, it basically just tots up how much interest Google is getting for a particular search term. That may not sound like much, but given that Google is the first port of call for the vast majority of the internet – and, I suspect, much of the online shopping – the amount of searches something gets in Google may perhaps be correlated to just how hot a particular company is at the moment. I say may, because I’ll be the first to throw my hands up and say I’m wildly speculating in the realm of data fantasy! Hopefully, though, you’ll at least find some of the results it throws out thought-provoking.

Superdry – Supergroup (SGP)

A true rising star – Superdry, Supergroup’s flagship brand,  has seen rapid growth in the last 5 years, something which we already know from having looked at their income statements last post. The questions of whether that momentum is slowing down or not are rather pertinent, and judging from the first 4 months of this year the answer would probably be yes. The data is pretty volatile, though, and in all three of the graphs I’m presenting today I’m only looking at the UK – so Superdry’s international growth is another story. On that front, GT tells us Superdry gets a lot of interest from Belgium, Ireland, Denmark and the Netherlands. Also note the extreme Christmas spikes – something that probably goes hand in hand with a brand aimed at young people. The poor relatives get stuck with the brand price tag!

FCUK – French Connection (FCCN)

A rather different story for French Connection, then, and one that also chimes with their stock performance – charting those yearly average values with group revenues shows a rather tight fit, so maybe there’s some value in Trends after all. As expected of a more upmarket brand, the recession hasn’t been fantastic for them – though it looks as if the real spark, when they were on their ballgame, was long past anyway. Is this the trend we can expect Supergroup to be following in the coming years? A slow tapering off as the brand loses its bite?

Simply Be – N Brown (BWNG)

Maybe there’s value in targeting the more mature consumer after all – they’re less attached to the brand name appeal of youth! Simply Be have grown pretty consistently year on year, with a particular spike last year, and are the only one of the three to have reported LFL (i.e. Jan-Apr ’12. vs. Jan-Apr ’11) growth in 2012. It’s difficult to compare any of this with N Brown’s reports since they have such a wide umbrella of brands, but their other big brands like Jacamo seem to be going the same way. This could just be cannibalised catalog sales, though. One little cute point of interest – Simply Be’s search volume index sees pretty much no spike at all in December, and in some years a significant dip. Given their demographic – slightly larger clothes than average high street, slightly older audience – perhaps that’s to be expected.

I’m afraid I don’t have any conclusions or hot stock picks – but the exercise did, at least, spark off some ideas with regards to fashion and stocks. I’m sure there are a thousand uses in relation to stocks I’m missing, so I’d love to hear/see if anyone has any!

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