Is Gen Y Lost to Department Stores?
We’ve heard this song before, haven’t we? Department stores
are not getting their fair share of Gen X and Y consumers and are taking steps
to change that.
Last October, a DailyFinance report concluded that Baby
Boomers, worried about their retirements and other financial concerns, were
pulling back the most on purchases and that retailers were turning more of
their marketing attention to shoppers between the ages of 10 and 45. The same
report acknowledged that Gen Y’ers (10 to 28 years old at the time) were the
most difficult to reach because of the ever expanding media options they have
to choose from.
“The financial crisis and the recession ushered in the biggest change
in consumer behavior in 70 years, and we’re not going back,’ Nancy Koehn,
professor and retail historian at Harvard Business School, told the Chicago
According to the Trib, one of the biggest changes department
stores have made is in their responsiveness to changing fashions. Many today
are looking to follow in the footsteps of their fast-fashion competitors, such
as Forever 21, H&M,
and Zara, as they seek to grab share of the 25 and under market.
A RetailWire poll
in August of this year found that 85 percent believed that the fast-fashion
supply chain provides a competitive advantage over traditional sourcing methods.
Penney recently launched an exclusive line under the MNG by Mango label. Mango
is one of the fast-fashion houses that Penney and others have to go up against.
has followed suit with the Material Girl line from Madonna and her daughter
Sears is the latest to get in on the act with the announcement
that it will launch a new line, UK Style by French Connection, in 500 stores
early next year.
John Goodman, executive vice president of apparel and home for Sears
Holdings, said, “French Connection is a world leader in contemporary fashion.
This addition to our brand portfolio will significantly increase our relevance
among younger customers while strengthening our effort to re-energize our fashion
offerings at Sears. The launch of UK Style by French Connection signifies our
continued commitment to compelling fashion and great value.”
other approaches, as well. Bon-Ton Stores has created an online advisory panel
of 5,000 teenagers. Barbara Schrantz, executive vice president of marketing
and sales at Bon-Ton, said the purpose is to “find out what it takes to
get them to shop department stores.” Ms. Schrantz said the chain discovered
that teenagers weren’t all that interested in exclusive brands. Instead, she
said, they were looking for stores that had the right fashions at the right
Discussion Questions: Can department stores be relevant to Gen Y consumers
today? What concrete steps can retailers take towards that end?
- Department stores: Mad rush for market share – Chicago Tribune
turn away from baby boomers, focus on younger customers – DailyFinance
- Sears Announces UK Style by French Connection; Exclusive Union a Major Step
Forward for Sears Contemporary Fashion – Sears/PRNewswire
- Sears is Moving Fashion Forward – Chicago Tribune