Teen Retail: The Battle of the Clothing Brands

October 27, 2015 | B2C Consumer Activations Retail

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Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, American Eagle Outfitters, Aeropostale – these are just a few of the top clothing brands competing for the hearts and minds of teenagers. Teens are tough customers. Many of the big brands in teen retail are considering new strategies for attracting shoppers and facing new entrants to the market.


CBS MarketWatch reports teens have far more choices in terms of what they spend money on now. Yes, clothing and shoes are important to them but so are apps and electronics. Teen unemployment (ages 16-19) in the US has risen to 14.1% vs. the national unemployment rate of 5.3%. With less disposable income and more teen-facing products than ever before, clothing retailers in this space will need to rethink everything from pricing to store formats.


NPD Group analyst Marshal Cohen puts it this way, “They’re (teens) spending across a wider spectrum of products. Fashion has gone from the highest priority to being less of a priority.”


National Real Estate Investor Magazine indicated that Forever 21, the fifth largest specialty retailer in the US, was considering downsizing their store prototype and “rolling out new supplemental concepts to attract new customers.” Currently Forever 21 stores range in size from an average 38,000 square feet to over 160,000 square feet.


The trend toward downsizing prototypes is not new. Many retailers are using technology to replace the need for massive square footage. Consumers can shop online and pick up in-store with no need to carry that inventory. Retailers are also using interactive displays and video to provide a virtual experience without the need for displaying every product model or clothing style.


Other retailers like JC Penney are moving full steam ahead into teen retail. The company recently announced they would begin production on their private label fast fashion brand, Belle + Sky targeting young women. Fortune reports that Belle + Sky is being piloted at about 50 JC Penney stores and is designed for “millennials and teenage shoppers who may have more fashion savvy than funds.”


Striking the right balance between fashion, format and price will continue to be a challenge for clothing brands in teen retail. Forever 21 may come out on top by rightsizing their prototype.


Posted by Kristy Elisano | Request as a Speaker

Caffeine dependent Jersey girl. Northeast powder hound. Inspired by creative risk takers and underdogs. VP Marketing, Doodle owner and cocreator of my daughter.