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Retailers Target Gen Z with Experiences and TikTok Trends image

Retailers Target Gen Z with Experiences and TikTok Trends

Experiential retail, coupled with ever-changing social media trends, will be key to currying favor with new generations of consumers, retail and fashion executives said July 10th at The Lead Summit in New York.

The shortened trend cycle on social media is a sharp change from years past, when consumer trends would emerge eight to 12 weeks after a product shipped to retail, said Robert Rizzolo, Chief Merchandising Officer at Marc Jacobs. Now, thanks to platforms like TikTok, trends can surface within 72 hours, forcing suppliers to quicken the pace of development, according to Rizzolo.

This faster pace also comes as retailers expand in-store experiences to compete with the lure of online shopping. Target, for example, created a holiday display that paired U.K. retailer Marks & Spencer’s food and beverages with an electric train set. H&M, meanwhile, has opened new flagship stores in New York and San Francisco designed to highlight various products and categories, including a New York location dedicated to secondhand apparel.

“The future of omnichannel retail is increasingly experiential and we feel well positioned in that we have strength in retail, a strong and growing digital business, and we are very connected to culture,” said Christina Hennington, Chief Strategy and Growth Officer at Target. “All these [distribution] channels are blended. It is important to create experiences because when something can show up at your doorstep the next day, what is the reason for going into a store?  Going to the store can be convenient and enjoyable with the support of services. So, experiential retail is critical for the future.”

Also critical will be the constant revamping of retail formats and products. Marc Jacobs, for example, is introducing lower priced tote and handbags ($300-$600) in more locations to appeal to Gen Z consumers. The brand also recently signed a multi-year agreement with Coty, which extends its fragrance license to include cosmetics that will ship in 2026. In doing so, Marc Jacobs parted with former cosmetics licensee Kendo to bring the brand under a single supplier for licensed products.

Spanish retailer Mango is expanding its Mango Teen locations to the U.K. and plans to open 500 new stores through 2026. H&M, which reported that its sales fell 6% in June, is forecasting opening 100 new stores this year while closing 160 locations. Beauty products supplier Coty, meanwhile, will open its second spa location in New York in September after having debuted the 4,000-square-foot format in Shanghai in December.

“It really is about learning customer behavior,” said Linda Li Steiner, Head of Customer Activation & Marketing at H&M. “It is about learning consumer behavior and being able to react. Trends [are] moving so fast now and with the rise of TikTok you may be leaning on one trend one week and another the following. It makes you question should you continue with the plan you had or change things up and be as reactive as possible.”

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