Thursday, March 10, 2016

Are Tough Times Turning Around for Teen Retailers?



No denying it’s been tough for retailers over the past couple of years. Particularly for the stores specializing in the teen retail segment.

Increase in mobile retail has had a lot to do with that, which has resulted in/from declines in mall traffic. Compound that with cyclical fashion trends and an increasing desire by teens to customize everything, including personal looks. Particularly for the once-logo-leading looks. Those have fallen out of favor with teens and it’s showing up in our Customer Loyalty Engagement Index and on the brands’ bottom lines.

The CLEI brand lists we assess aren’t pre-determined. Consumers tell Brand Keys researchers which brands they actually use and brands must be mentioned enough times to provide a statistically generalizable sample. But it’s more than just statistics. When consumers mention new brands at significant levels, it’s an indicator that current options are not meeting their needs or, more precisely, their expectations. And when one brand isn’t able to meet those ever-increasing expectations, especially teen expectations, consumers look to other brands to do it for them. Brands that do, end up higher on our list. Brands that don’t, end up in Chapter 11.

For retail shoppers – of all ages – it’s the emotional side of the purchase equation that brands need to concentrate on if they want to meet shopper expectations. Today the rational stuff is easy, but if a retailer relies on that alone, profitability will continue to become far more difficult to attain. Particularly among teens who are out there looking for a personal style, not another logo.

Fast-fashion brands like H&M showed up on our lists a few years ago. Brands like Forever 21, Anthropologie, and Express have shown up only recently. Brands like T.J. Maxx – able to offer cheap-chic options – are the ones that have been doing better than traditional, established brands like Abercrombie & Fitch.

So when we look at the teen apparel retail segment, here’s how teens vote – with their emotions and their wallets:
  1. Victoria’s Secret
  2. H&M
  3. Old Navy
  4. Forever 21
  5. Old Navy
  6. Express/American Eagle
  7. PacSun
  8. J. Crew
  9. Aeropostal/Abercrombie & Fitch
  10. American Apparel

It was John Fairchild, the publisher of Woman’s Wear Daily and founder of W, who noted. “Style is an expression of individualism mixed with charisma. Fashion is something that comes after style.”

He was right. Particularly as it applies to teens.


Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: brandkeys.com. Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.