How Fashion Retail Brands Are Fighting to Stay on Top

It’s hard out there for a retailer. As competition mounts and brick-and-mortar struggles, here’s how fashion brands big and small are fighting to stay relevant…

Amazon is, unsurprisingly, often blamed for the struggles of other retail brands, as the mammoth site continues to move aggressively into the fashion space. In fact, Millennials are reportedly buying more clothing from Amazon than any other online retailer. According to Slice Intelligence research, almost 17% of all online clothing sales by 18-34-year-olds in 2016 was through Amazon—double the amount of the second most shopped online retailer, Nordstrom. Amazon has been steadily investing more in fashion and fashion retail offerings. Its efforts, combined with a seamless shopping experience and an immense variety of product, are paying off—they even made the top ten on Ypulse’s ranking of 13-34-year-olds’ favorite places to buy clothing. (And that was before they announced their upcoming Amazon Prime Wardrobe, which everyone is comparing to players like Stitch Fix.)

But long-standing fashion brands have more than just Amazon to contend with. Brick-and-mortar has been struggling for years, thanks to less-than-exciting or convenient in-store experiences, spending shifting into experiences, and a more frugal generation. Young consumers, raised in the recession, have been trained to expect sales and to be discount shoppers. Take Nordstrom: the brand is losing favor with Millennials as they skip luxury department stores for off-price options, a recent brand equity poll shows. Nordstrom’s dipping sales back up the poll, showing a 2.8% drop at their full-price locations countered only by Nordstrom Rack’s (their discount chain) 2.4% swell. Across industries, retailers are seeing the same trend, with overall sales sliding and…

 
 

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“Art is basically my job and I enjoy it so much.”—Female, 15, MD

Snap is making its “biggest move” in scripted original content, teaming up with NBCUniversal and the Duplass brothers for their next series. The Duplass-owned creative studio Donut will produce original series for Snap shot in vertical video. NBCU and Snap will also be opening a joint digital content studio focused completely on mobile-first entertainment, “formaliz[ing] their partnership” and putting Snap firmly in the producing/original content creation camp. Snap’s mobile-only approach is part of a movement to shake up how we view videos—in fact, they’re calling their offering “a fundamentally new medium.” (THRTechCrunch)

Eggo frozen waffles are capitalizing on their unexpected Stranger Things’ fame. The brand has seized the marketing opportunity of being a part of one of Millennials & Gen Z’s favorite shows, tying themselves into Netflix’s Super Bowl ad, creating a special toaster for select fans, and swarming New York Comic Con with people dressed up like Eleven armed with “watch party kits” (aka “waffles and a microwavable syrup server”). To prep for the premiere of season two of the show, Eggo is sending out a fully-loaded food truck for the red carpet premiere, and going all out on social media to connect with fans. (MediaPost)

More teens than ever have severe anxiety, but why? The American College Health Association found a 12% increase in undergrads reporting “overwhelming anxiety” from 2011 to 2016, and several studies concur that “there’s just been a steady increase of severely anxious students.” Social media is part of the problem—constant like-monitoring and cyber bullying isn’t helping the most stressed generation to date. There’s also an increasing (and constant) perceived need to over-achieve. One psychology professor observes, “There’s always one more activity, one more A.P. class, one more thing to do in order to get into a top college.” (NYTimes)

Ypulse research has shown that 88% of Millennial parents are trying to avoid helicopter parenting—but they might not be able to help it. The constant media storm of global atrocities and everyday stories of parenting gone wrong combined with advertisers’ willingness to fear-monger, results in a generation of (understandably) anxious parents. It doesn’t help that the tech to constantly monitor kids is easily available (albeit pricey)—from drone surveillance meant for the military to devices that track “blood-oxygen levels all night long.” One relationship therapist sums up, “Everyone is having a hard time drawing a line and just figuring out what’s reasonable versus what’s over-protective.” (Refinery29)

Brands are turning college students into mini-sales forces. Aerie, Victoria’s Secret Pink, and Express are just a few of the many brands that have a program for college campus reps where students receive swag, experience, and other perks for helping bring brand awareness to their colleges. Though brands don’t always require social posts, most ambassadors do share their swag on social, bringing organic ads to their friends’ feeds. The biggest draw is that social posts from reps “[come] across as natural, authentic, a product that they would normally use or want to talk about.” (Racked)

“[Celebrity] can mean anything nowadays and it's a rather diluted term; from YouTube star, to someone on Instagram with millions of followers, to reality TV dopes, etc.”—Male, 30, WI

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