As SHEIN mulls a UK float and Temu lands in hot water, what do Britons think of the retail giants?
June 18th, 2024, Steve Hatch

As SHEIN mulls a UK float and Temu lands in hot water, what do Britons think of the retail giants?

Two online retail giants, SHEIN and Temu, are having very different weeks. While the former reportedly mulls a £50bn filing on the London stock exchange, the latter has attracted scrutiny for – according to an episode of Channel 4’s Dispatches – selling children’s clothing with “dangerous levels” of toxic materials. 

It's a good opportunity to look at these online retailers’ reputations and see if they’re better or worse than that of other organisations operating in the fast fashion space. YouGov BrandIndex data shows that, on average, Impression scores – which measure general sentiment – for fast fashion brands is at 7.7. At -13.2 for SHEIN and -18.8 for Temu (for whom fashion is just one of its offers), both brands considerably underperform this average. 

But why? Well, on average, the fast fashion brands we track have Quality scores of -4.7 – suggesting that UK consumers largely don’t think their clothes are made to a high standard. Nevertheless, people believe SHEIN (-25.4) and Temu (-22.8) to be far worse than the average for this measure. 

Quality isn’t necessarily a key metric for fast fashion brands. But looking at Value for Money scores shows that, while the industry average is at 9.4, SHEIN (2.3) and particularly Temu (-5.4) are believed to offer worse bang for buck. 

Still, this isn’t enough to stop either brand from having net positive Satisfaction: SHEIN’s scores are at 6.0, and Temu’s are at 2.2 (although, again, they underperform fast fashion brands in general). It’s the same for Consideration, which tracks which brands the public would contemplate making their next clothing purchase from: while measures trail the industry average (16.4), both brands make it into double digits for this metric (SHEIN: 11.5; Temu 11.3). 

So despite perceptions of low quality and poor value – and even a general dislike of each brand – customers generally aren’t put off SHEIN or Temu: if they aren’t the customers’ first choice, they’re still enjoying overall positive consideration and satisfaction. In a cost-of-living crisis, some consumers may be willing to buy from a cut-price provider that they don’t have a particular affinity for. But will that remain the case in the long term?