In February the number of monthly Black Tie Guide visitors surpassed 50,000 for the first time ever. 55,463 to be precise. That’s an astonishing average of over 1,900 unique visitors per day.
I say “astonishing” because when I first created the Guide in 2006 I figured the topic of preserving sartorial tradition would be of minimal interest in a culture that has come to expect everything in life to be cheap, fast and simple. Certainly the number of tuxedo makers and retailers that have closed their doors in the intervening years would seem to bolster this argument, a direct result of the attire’s declining popularity at society’s few remaining formal traditions.
Yet somehow an information web site devoted to this attire has become increasingly popular during the same period. For those who are as curious (and as heartened) as I am about this paradox, I’ve compiled the following statistics to help ascertain who is visiting the site and why. Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are from Google Analytics for the period from April 1, 2011 (when the second edition was launched) to February 20, 2012.
The most viewed pages during this time period were:
- Ladies’ Evening Wear (5.3%)
- Classic Tuxedos (4.2%)
- Etiquette: Black Tie Dress Code (3.2%)
- Morning Dress (3.1%)
- Contemporary Tuxedos (2.4%)
- (The traffic for all other pages differed by only about 0.1% which makes the differences statistically insignificant.)
The most popular countries for visits to the site were:
- USA (48.3% of visitors)
- UK (16.2%)
- Australia (5.1%)
- Canada (4.6%)
Statistics from Quantcast (which go back to August 2009) show some interesting differences in US and UK demographics:
- In both countries visitors are split almost evenly between male and female.
- Among US visitors 23% are from the 25-34 age group followed by 21% from the 35-44 group, then 18% each from the 18-24 and 45-54 groups. UK visitors skew a little younger with 26% in the 18-24 bracket, and 21% each in the 25-34 and 35-44 brackets.
- 61% of American visitors have no children in the household versus 68% in the UK.
- 49% of US visitors have a household income of $0-50k, 28% have $50-100k, and 23% have over $100k. In UK the income is skewed higher: 30% have a household income of £30-50, 25% have over £50k, 24% have £0-20k, and 21% have £20-30k.
Quantcast stats also indicate that traffic patterns tend to follow an annual cycle:
- traffic is at its lowest level in June and July
- beginning in August traffic increases through the fall until it hits its annual peak in December (with the exception of an extremely sharp drop-off around Dec 25)
- traffic remains relatively high through to early March when it falls off again
- there is notable surge around April and May
Of the site’s overall traffic, about 69% came from searches, 18% from referrals, and 13% was direct. Of the traffic that came from searches:
- The most popular search terms were “black tie” (8.0% of searches), “black tie guide” (3.9%), “morning suit” (1.2%), “black tie dress code”, “black tie attire” and “morning dress” (each about 1%). (The remaining 116,000 terms each represent less than 1% of search-related traffic so aren’t statistically relevant on their own.)
- 7 of the top 25 searches pertain to black tie for women.
- 2 of the top 25 searches pertain to “black tie optional”
- 3 of the top 25 searches pertain to “tuxedo” with the most popular being “tuxedo etiquette”
- The vast majority of searches related to morning dress come from US visitors
Another insight into visitors comes from reader e-mail where queries from grooms-to-be (or their fiancées) are the most numerous followed closely by queries pertaining to black-tie events. (The third most popular type of correspondence is feedback from military men who appear to have a natural affinity for what is essentially a civilian uniform.)
Finally, there are some interesting tidbits that arise from the traffic for the corresponding Black Tie Blog:
- “James Bond tuxedo” searches account for nearly half(!) of all search-related traffic despite the fact there hasn’t been a Bond film released since 2008 and the next isn’t due until November.
- The most popular posts to date are the three red-carpet reviews (despite being some of the most recent posts) followed by the “007 Tuxedo” article.
Emerging from all these numbers are some interesting patterns:
- The prevalence of dress code terminology among search-related traffic – and the relatively few appearances of the generic “tuxedo” – suggest that the majority of these visitors have encountered the dress codes somewhere prior to their search and that they are more concerned with formal etiquette than with formal style.
- Although women make up half the site’s traffic and the Ladies’ Evening Wear page is the most popular, the page’s relatively low margin of popularity over the others suggest that female visitors are reading much more than just that page. This – and the trends in reader correspondence – would suggest that women are very much involved in their men’s formalwear decisions.
- Annual traffic patterns suggest that interest in black tie is closely associated with (in decreasing order of significance) Christmas season, “awards season”, the fall season, and prom season.
- The interest of American visitors in morning dress is remarkable considering the tradition is virtually extinct in the US
What I can’t tell from all these numbers is how much the Guide acts as a barometer of interest versus how much it acts as a generator of interest. My hope is that plays an active part in awakening men to the benefits of traditional black tie so that they will wear it properly and wear it often.