Brands find unexpected opportunities to reach next-gen customers
Recent start-ups are connecting with Millennials and Gen Z in ways that might shock and impress traditional chain store owners. The ability to adapt to trends before one’s competitors is increasingly important. For some brands, this means catering to Gen Z and Millennials’ obsession with supersize eyelashes; for some others, it means collaborating with NASA on formal work attire that customers can also wear to run marathons.
Boise, Idaho-based family business, Red Aspen, focuses on selling faux mink and silk lashes. Their mantra encourages women to “Stand Up, Stand Out and Stand Together by Uniting Passion with Purpose” and each set of false lashes sold by Red Aspen is named after a woman that inspired the company’s founders. The lashes are sold through social selling techniques reminiscent of Avon or Mary Kay, with brand ambassadors earning 25 to 35 percent of each sale as take-home commission.
If you’re wondering whether such a niche business idea could make a decent profit, the answer is yes. Red Aspen made $1 million in sales within five months of opening and is now expanding into other types of cosmetics with the goal of launching one new beauty product a month in the coming year.
On the opposite end of the innovation spectrum, Ministry of Supply collaborated with scientists from MIT and NASA to give its next generation customers the wearable technology they demand. The company started with a “radically engineered” performance dress shirt, which they have since expanded to an entire capsule wardrobe, including a tailored work coat, a blazer and dress pants.
What’s so special about the 4-piece workwear set that Ministry of Supply is calling the “Kinetic Collection”? The pieces are cut from breathable stretch knit fabric that wicks away moisture to prevent customers from getting sweaty throughout the day. Additionally, the coat is completely water-resistant and will hold up to the elements, such as light rain or a spilled drink. To bring the point home about the durability of his products, the company’s cofounder once ran a half-marathon in one of the suits.
These two companies are prime examples of the fact that retailers can find success in today’s competitive market, but that to do so they must do the necessary research to gain an detailed understanding of their target market.
- This Boise startup hit $1 million in sales in 5 months. ‘I have no idea where we’ll be in five years.’ – Idaho Statesman
- 20 of the Most Exciting Under-the-Radar Retail Start-Ups to Watch in 2018 – Business Insider
- I Tried the Suit Designed By MIT Scientists to Never Wrinkle or Stain – and Came Away Impressed – Business Insider
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How prepared are large brands and retailers to identify generational trends? What do you take from the experiences of Red Aspen and Ministry of Supply? Are there other niche brands you can point to that have made an impact by cornering an unspoken generational trend?