Part 2: Teens are Forcing Retailers to Rethink their Brand Experience


Last week we posed a problem: mall-anchored retailers have lost their market share due to poor location, out-of-date styles, cheaper options at fast-fashion clothing-lines and brands focusing on experiences rather than products. With many major clothing brands claiming Chapter 11, teen-focused retailers are wondering, “What can I do to reverse the tide?”

1. Push for activewear

Most floundering teen brands can blame some of their decline on the styles they offer. They failed to ask TEENS what THEY want and are now paying the price. If fashion retailers took the time to ask teens what they would like to see in stores, they’d see there is a clear frontrunner – activewear.

According to Piper Jaffry’s semiannual Taking Stock with Teens survey, the demand for activewear is spiking in the teen and young adult demographics. Forever 21, who has recently introduced activewear into their line, and NIKE are the two most favored brands among upper-income high-school seniors. And, their numbers are reflecting that success because they listen to what their market wants, and they provide it at an efficient price.

2. Invest in your Omnichannel approach- particularly with social media

Changing your price point isn’t always the right answer. There is still a market for luxury and high-cost brands. Retailers just need to leverage their offering to optimize the buyers’ journey in-store and on-line.

Tech-savvy teens rely heavily on social media and mobile technology to inform and empower their spending. This phenomenon is perfectly reflected in teens’ response when brands invest time and money into the seamless integration between shipping and their social media feeds. Fast-fashion brands have taken over the digital space, leaving the rest of retailers picking lint. Keeping quality social engagement and novelty in your digital strategy is one way of successfully targeting and engaging teens.

3. Develop a need-based experience

Malls may be on their way out, but that doesn’t mean their time is over. Many teen retailers have cultivated a very specific and targeted experience through channels like customer service, décor, and music. While all of these elements are important and help people connect with your brand, they don’t create a sense of urgency. A store location shouldn’t be a weakness, but if retailers don’t lean in and leverage where they are, it can be.

For example:

Do you find that many teens’ phones die in your store? Install charging stations. When people know you have that service available, they’ll begin to come in to charge their phones, and window shop while they wait.

Difficult to get internet service in the mall? Offer free, branded Wi-Fi to all customers in your store.

Are you far away from the food court? Partner with the food providers and offer a system for ordering that means their food will be ready when they arrive.

Finding that your sizes aren’t always a perfect fit? Install a digital system that allows patrons to notify your employees that they need a new size from the dressing room.

More than any other demographic, teens and young adults don’t just want value, they NEED it. Their limited funds mean they have to make a dollar stretch and by utilizing your location, your omnichannel offerings and your need-based experiences they’ll be more likely to shop with you instead of your competition.