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The millennial mind: Fashion connection challenge

Part 2: A meeting of the minds

INSIGHT ARTICLE  | 

Millennials have become the most influential consumer group, with tech savvy and future purchasing potential making them an enticing target for fashion brands keen to reap their long-term rewards as customers. Knowing what’s on their minds, and why, is key to understanding their preferences and specific buying behaviors. The following is Part 2 of our two-part series, The millennial mind: Key considerations for smart fashion brands.

PART 2

A meeting of the minds

Understanding how to connect, engage and sell to millennials is of utmost importance for fashion companies which are keenly aware that this high-value demographic is also now forming preferences and buying habits that will last a lifetime. These implicit and explicit millennial preferences require fashion brands to take notice, assess and shift their strategies to meet expectations. The following are some key considerations to help brands tap into the minds of the all-important millennial customer.

  • Connect to compete: For fashion brands for which the operational status quo may still involve data silos, manual (including spreadsheet) processes, duplicate data entry between departments, time lags to retrieve critical information, or any other version of fragmented or error-prone processes, the first step in the journey forward will likely involve finding and implementing the right enterprise resource planning and/or supply chain management solution. Such solutions are capable of yielding dramatic improvements in connectivity, efficiency and productivity, often enabling apparel brands to ensure consumer demands for products are met using the most efficient means possible.

  • Seamless omnichannel experiences: As social, mobile and digital technologies continue to converge and proliferate, fashion brands will need to deliver consistent, seamless, personalized experiences to each and every millennial customer, or prospect, regardless of how, where or when the experience unfolds. To this end, most fashion brands will begin with customer relationship management, marketing automation, businesses intelligence, salesforce automation solutions or some combination of these, and related software tools capable of delivering a real-time, 360-degree view of each complex millennial consumer to every member of their business team so that they are able to fully and consistently support and engage the consumer.

  • The in-store experience: With integrated technology platforms and solutions in place, some fashion brands which utilize bricks and mortar or online retail are also able to deliver customized offerings to this high-value demographic across the channels most relevant to their audience.1  Increasingly leveraged as a means to support and reinforce a consistent, authentic conversation between these fashion brands and millennials, in-store experiences provide the opportunity to deliver the highly sought-after experiences the demographic craves.

  • Part of the fashion conversation: A key takeaway for fashion brands targeting millennials may be that online appeal is primarily about becoming a part of the millennial conversation. Brands must learn to deliver the type of content, such as product information or special offers, that these shoppers gravitate toward, crave, depend on and want to share with their own social networks. But herein lies another layer of complexity: Millennials also demand authenticity. Standard marketing messaging and strategies crafted artificially and opportunistically by fashion brands to sound like what the audience wants to hear are likely to be sniffed out and immediately jettisoned by this group. To fully leverage the overwhelming popularity of social media over other, more traditional channels of communication for millennials, fashion brands should also keep in mind that to feel authentic and organic, social media outreach will have to be integrated as a natural component or step in that brand’s overall customer communication and engagement strategy. Millennials will also ultimately demand that fashion brands come to terms with the reality that much of what constitutes a relationship for their demographic doesn’t end in a sale—at least not in the near term. Establishing an omnichannel outreach plan that encompasses mobile, digital and in-store engagement is key.

To be successful in this energized and competitive marketplace, fashion companies must break out of the status quo and challenge their traditional marketing and relationship-building methods. These core changes, fueled by the demands of millennial consumers, have the potential to bring almost limitless opportunity to adaptive, agile and open-minded fashion companies.

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1. Katie Smith, “Millennials to Separate Apparel Winners and Losers,” just-style.com, August 20, 2015, http://www.just-style.com/analysis/millennials-to-separate-apparel-retail-winners-and-losers_id126003.aspx

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