When was the last time you stepped foot in a specialty fashion store? I’ll be honest; it had been awhile for me, which is saying something, considering the industry in which I work. I, like many career-focused shoppers, have slipped into an on-line or subscription service shopping pattern. I love getting packages.
The funny thing is my kids do, too. I recently signed up both of my boys for a subscription clothing service called Rockets of Awesome. They know important details about each of my boys. they know what they like, what colors they don’t like, and what they simply will not wear. Every month they send each boy a bright blue box of 10-12 items selected specially for them. I shop the same way, only for me I prefer StitchFix.
All this is to say that I am rarely in a fashion store shopping for myself or my kids.
Needless to say, I didn’t wake up last Saturday thinking I’d be shopping. It came as a complete surprise when my sprouting, trend-wearing, skateboard-loving, new-cell-phone-owning, 11 year-old son woke me to ask, “Mom, can we go shopping? [Super Cool Retailer] is having a sale!”
Let’ go back and dissect what just happened. My 11 year-old son, who has never liked to shop, is asking his mom to take him to a fashion store to buy “new” clothes!
Here’s the rest of our conversation that morning:
Surprised by our exchange, I got up, and like any mom of a pre-teen boy would do, I said, “Let’s go!”
I knew this moment could pass any second. I truly had no idea how long he’d actually stay interested in going shopping.
We went shopping, and we had a great time. My son happily tried on clothes, and he was able to try out a number of skateboards. I could tell he felt so cool chatting with their super hip sales associates. We walked out of the store buying more than I had planned on spending.
A Fashion Store Building Brand, One Impression at a Time
The entire experience, from Snap to sale, left an impression on my son, and I witnessed him falling for, and claiming, a brand as his own. He was proud it was his decision, and now he feels good about being part of their group. I think he is also proud to have an outlet for keeping up to date about when events are taking place at our closest store.
Now I know that I am the enabler in my son’s transactions right now. I also know that typically, as the mom, I am most likely segmented as a shopper/customer for kid- and pre-teen retailers. What is most interesting to me about my son’s experience is that the brand engaged him in a way that was relevant to him.
He’s 11, and he’s only into approved-by-me social media applications. So he’s restricted. He’s not on Twitter, he’s not on Facebook, and he does not have a public email address. But regardless of these limitations, this retailer was able to engage with my son. They managed to inform him about a sale and motivate him to get me out of bed and into a store. Once we arrived, we were engaged, encouraged and enticed to spend more money than we intended. Wrap your mind around that.
Redefining the Store for Gen Z
I don’t think the age of the store is over. I think that retailers have to constantly reevaluate who their customers are and who their next customers will be. [Super Cool Retailer] has my 11 year-old hooked. I bet I could buy just about anything in their store, and my son would approve of it.
What I have learned as I researched my son’s and my experience is that he is part of Generation Z, the generation after the “Millennials,” and life for Gen Z is vastly different from every generation that came before them.
“Born into a society where information, education, entertainment, and everything else, is just a click away, [Generation Z] are certainly living in the information age with technology that just a few years ago was unthinkable.1”
These kids will spend their entire lives never having known life without a mobile phone, an iPad or Amazon. He will never know what it’s like to have to wait to get something.
So the fact that [Super Cool Retailer] engaged him – and hooked him – is encouraging.