Nordstrom vs Macy’s- Department Store Showdown

Nordstrom vs Macy’s- Department Store Showdown

The retail industry is a whopping billion-dollar business in the United States. Competition for consumer dollars is fierce, with retailers always on the lookout for competitive intelligence to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their competitive set. Nordstrom’s and Macy’s are two of the most successful department store retailers. We decided to hone in on the unique differences between the in-store and online audiences of these two retail giants.

Using the Hitwise AudienceView platform, two separate segments were created. Group 1 had visited Macy’s online or in-store during the past 3 months but had NOT visited Nordstrom’s. Group 2 who had visited Nordstrom’s online or in-store during the past 3 months but had NOT visited Macy’s.

We looked at different segments for Nordstrom and Macy’s department store shoppers for where they index. The definition of index for the purpose of this article is when we: measure the likelihood of an audience to take a specific action. An index above 100 means over-index. So an index of 130 may be written as +30 or 30% more likely; it simply means 30% more likely than the average individual, as measured against the entire online population. Meanwhile an index of 72 means 28% less likely to take the specific action — this would be considered under-indexing.

Macy’s Customers Less Traditionally Domestic

We learned that the exclusively Nordstrom’s segment are 95% more likely to have a Household Income of $100,000 and 17% more likely to have Children. When we looked at how many Nordstrom consumers were Home Owners and Married, they over-indexed 21% in both areas. Nordstrom fans tend to be in the 55-64 range, they are 86% more popular with this age group. Surprisingly, Nordstrom under-indexes with the age group of 45-54 by 54%.

The exclusively Macy’s segment was 31% more likely to have a Household Income of $75,000-$99,000 however, they surprisingly under-indexed for having Children by 93%- quite a significant amount. The Macy’s customer average for being a Home Owner is only 1% higher than average and they only slightly over-index for being Married by 10%. Macy’s over-indexes the most with the age group of 65+ with an 18% lead and they under-indexed the most with the young millennials, age group 18-24, with a 69% deficit in reaching this demographic.

nordstrom vs macys

Nordstrom Shoppers Have Stronger Apparel Opinions

The Nordstrom’s customer base has the most Virtual Shoppers while the Macy’s crowd are more likely to be Status Strivers. When we dove into analyzing Lifestyle Attitudes, the Nordstrom’s segment over-indexed for agreeing with the following statements:

  • “Fashion Magazines Help Me Determine What Clothes to Buy (A mind blowing 208% above average agreed)
  • “A Designer Label Improves a Person’s Image” (An undeniable 183% above average agreed)
  • “When I Shop for Health and Beauty Care Products, I Look for Organic/Natural Items” (Yet again, they dramatically over-index for this statement with 156% above average agreement)

Conversely, the top three over-indexing Macy’s statements were:

  • “I Am Usually the First Among My Friends to Try New Clothing Styles” (50% more likely)
  • “I Am Willing to Spend More Than I Can Really Afford, to Get the Clothes That I Want” (over-index 50% for this statement)
  • “I Try to Keep Abreast of Changes in Styles & Fashions” (37% more likely than average)

In terms of the largest percentage (rather than highest likelihood), each audience displays very different dominant attitudes:

Nordstrom vs Macys

Macy’s Dominates Digital Market Share Online

When we looked at JUST the sites Nordstom.com and Macys.com in the Digital Behavior Report, we found that for the 4 weeks ending January 21, 2017 Nordstrom.com received .24% and Macys.com received .57% Visits Share in the Shopping and Classified Industry. Not only did Macys.com get a larger share of visits, but they are notably getting a larger share of their overall visits from mobile devices, as their Desktop/Mobile Ratio was 42.16%/57.84% while Nordstrom.com received a ratio of 55.63%/44.37%.

When it comes to Activity Stream between the two sites, we looked at activity before and after people visited the two sites. There were 804,898 Traffic Occurrences (184,787 Unique Users) between Macys.com and Nordstrom.com. So if you were looking at the websites consumers are visiting before Nordstrom.com, Macys.com ranked as the #7 site they visited. If you looked at activity after consumers visit Macys.com, Nordstrom.com ranked as the #13 website they visited.

nordstrom vs macys

Alternatively, there were 829,109 Traffic Occurrences (188,156 Unique Users) between Nordstrom.com and Macys.com. Before visiting Macys.com, Nordstrom.com ranked at #15 and then After visiting Nordstrom.com, Macys.com ranked at #6. The main takeaway here is that Macys.com ranks higher as a site visited before and after Nordstrom.com than Nordstrom.com is before and after Macys.com.

nordstrom vs macys

AudienceView cut to the core of the strengths and differences between Nordstrom’s and Macy’s. Nordstrom’s indexes higher when it comes to household income, being married, having children, and in having a slightly younger age group, and has shoppers who are Virtual Shoppers who feel designer labels improve their image. This is opposed to Macy’s Status Strivers who spend more than they can really afford. But Macy’s receives more visit share to their website, and also has a greater mobile vs. desktop ratio than Nordstrom’s. Plus, their website is more likely to be visited before and after someone visits Nordstrom.com than vice versa.

So while Macy’s department store might want to use AudienceView to learn how they can win over more of Nordstrom’s “higher end” customers, Nordstrom’s department store could use AudienceView to understand and counteract Macy’s successful digital strategy. Yes, they are both successful at what they do, but there is still much to be learned from the other to get to the next level.

* Nordstrom (Not Macy’s) segment and Macy’s (not Nordstrom) segment were built in Hitwise’s AudienceView Platform. Demographic and attitudinal data was pulled using a Profile Snapshot Report measured four weeks ending January 14, 2017

* Nordstrom (Not Macy’s) segment and Macy’s (not Nordstrom) visit share and activity stream data were pulled using a Digital Behavior Report measured 4 weeks ending January 21, 2017.