By David Shankbone (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Having grown up on the Internet, millennials (also known as Generation Y) may seem an easy target to the retailers—what with the ungodly amount of time they spend on their smartphones, doing online shopping, and communicating via social media. So when Diane von Furstenberg came out with a reality show on E! (‘House of DVF’), stating that it was her way of reaching out to the younger consumers, many decided to follow suit by proactively targeting Gen Y. The question is—will their efforts pay off?
Where the Money Is
According to You Brand, Inc., millennials have an estimated spending power of $2.45 trillion, demonstrating a growing inclination towards niche brands as opposed to traditional retailers and fast fashion. Relying on inspiration and tips from their fellow Gen Y-ers, they are also responsible for a bulk of sales stemming from social media—so much so that sometimes the relevance of a label depends on how visible it is on popular feeds, which is especially good news for startup or specialty fashion brands looking to gain exposure and drum up revenue.
Making It Personal
“It’s not just the digital piece, although that’s a big part of it—it’s an intimacy and authenticity that feels like it’s missing with many big legacy brands.”
Anine Bing is a perfect example. Launched back in 2012, the brand has seen lightning-speed success, now boasting more than 316K followers on Instagram, not to mention over 300 boutiques worldwide. Anine’s posts are a perfect combination of product promotions, insights into her personal life, and her career. The right balance of publications creates the authentic feel that most twentysomethings find very appealing.
It’s About Being Creative
Brands and advertisers are constantly looking for new ways to reach the “it” generation, with their short attention span and the overload of information available online. From pop-up stores to emojis and little wacky surprises (e.g. Zoolander in Valentino’s runway show), it’s not really about shelling out more money for promotions, but rather about filling a vacant niche and being resourceful enough to get Gen Y consumers to look your brand’s way.
Having certain budget constraints, Gen Y shoppers also prioritize getting the best quality for their money. Of Mercer, a fast-growing women’s workwear brand created by two twentysomethings, have succeeded in capturing the millennial’s interest with their line of high-quality pieces with price tags that don’t go beyond $250. The demand for their creations has grown so fast that after a year selling online they’ve already opened a brick-and-mortar store in New York City and can boast celebrities such as Emmy Rossum and Olivia Palermo among their customers.
“Shops Westfield Sydney 2013“. Licensed under CC0 via Wikipedia
Should You Do It?
Millennials are expected to outspend the baby boomers by 2017, which means that there’s a big door of opportunity for companies willing to target this specific demographic—but only if they fit a certain profile. According to the research done by Pixlee, a digital media agency, Gen Y-ers want understated luxury, individuality, quality, and clear vision. If your label succeeds in delivering all of these, then it is poised to be a game-changer in the millennial world.
Oliva Tong—a research analyst—couldn’t have put it better when she said,
“For brands to succeed, you have to be in the right channel, and have the right marketing messages and the right price. You really have to work it. You have to be louder and crisper.”
And once you make them look your way, they will certainly come to you.