Our culture has ingrained in us the need to constantly look forward and chase the next best thing. The grass always seems to be greener on the other side of the fence, and this notion
trains us to continually think ahead for what’s to come. In high school, you’re dreaming about the years of college freedom that lie ahead.
In college, you’re fantasizing about breaking into the “real world,” landing your first job, and living on your own. It’s a never-ending cycle of looking forward to the next step in life. This method of thinking is no different for the fashion industry. Fast-fashion brands thrive off of emulating the styles of more prominent designers in order to manufacture apparel that’s affordable for the price-savvy, yet fashion-conscious, consumer. So it’s only natural that teenagers – a demographic that is most easily influenced by what’s around them – look toward their predecessors – Millennials – to set the tone for fashion.
Fashion is ultimately a form of communication; a reflection of who one would like to be portrayed as. During a stage in which they are still trying to discover their identities and play around with changing trends, teenagers want to feel unique, fresh and different. They are very selective in this instance because it’s one of the few things they have control over. This is a challenge for brands. Teens want their styles to not only look like what their older siblings and role models wear, but also to look distinctive. Brands must take the fashion of Millennials and adapt it to the younger teenage audience. Retailers like Forever 21 and H&M look to leaders like Diane von Furstenberg for fashion influence and inspiration in their own lines.
What’s Up? What’s In.
Marketing using celebrity appeal isn’t as effective with teens as it is with other age demographics. Unlike tweens, teenagers are transitioning through what is arguably one of the most challenging stages of growing up. Their friends and interests change drastically and erratically. In effect, so does what they wear. What’s popular one moment could be considered plagued the next. While Millennials are attracted to the experience that brands offer, teenagers are sold on what’s currently “in,” and, more importantly, will fit in with their self-identity. A celebrity will only be “in” for so long before teens find someone else that captures their attention. At the end of the day, teenagers want to wear clothing that will make them feel confident. Brands need to go beyond placing a celebrity as a spokesperson if they want to retain attention. American Eagle’s Pinterest page uses “Meet the Cast” boards that feature the latest styles on models of the brand, keeping the page fresh and updated.
Occupy the Channel
Any brand aspiring to reach the teenage segment knows how slippery and elusive this generation of developing individuals can be to entertain. The key for marketers is to integrate multi-channel strategies on all platforms that teens occupy. Teenagers epitomize the art of multi-tasking, and usage of several different channels simultaneously is inherent for the demographic. Instagram and Pinterest quickly replaced Facebook for several fashion retailers looking to showcase their collections and lines. As technology evolves, brands will need to occupy the channels that are popular among teens. For example, Nike’s “Find Your Greatness” campaign encouraged athletes to share their progress and success through social media. Using real people, as opposed to sticking a celebrity in the ads, resonated well with teens and kept the focus on the brand. In this instance, the idea of user-generated content brings the power back to the consumer, allowing teenagers to become their own self-proclaimed celebrities.
It is always advantageous to stay ahead of the curve in terms of what the next social media trend will be. Teenagers are avid early adopters, always eager to try out the newest apps and technology. By paying attention and adapting to the latest, most up to date software, a retailer can effectively reach the teenage demographic. However, it is also important to carefully monitor the changing trends, as teenagers are erratic and unpredictable in their habits.