Business Strategy

As more Millennials favor functionality, fashion brands must listen

As more Millennials favor functionality, fashion brands must listen

If you are a fashion brand catering to Millennials, it may be time to rethink your plans for “innovative” or “edgy” collections. More Millennials are turning to classic, heritage styles—a trend endangering the future of fast fashion brands like Forever 21 or H&M, according to a recent Business Insider report.

“Economical or ideological climates definitely influence designers and consumers in the way they interact with fashion,” culture expert Kate Nelson Best told Quartz. In a time of economic and political instability, more Millennials are looking for clothes that feel safe, durable and timeless.

This new trend in Millennial shopping illustrates the need to engage these shoppers as their taste and preferences can change quickly. If you’re a fashion brand looking to get closer to Millennials, here are some pointers to take note.

Be trustworthy

Thanks to their technical savvy and seamless use of social media, Millennials can easily figure out if they want to deal with a certain brand. At the top of their priorities? Environmental sustainability and social responsibility.

According to a report by The Shelton Group, “when Millennials trust a company’s social and environmental practices, 90% say they’ll buy from that brand, and 95% say they’ll recommend the products to their friends and family (largely via social media).”

That trust, once established, means big profits for companies that embody eco-friendly and socially conscious values. Demonstrate your commitment through your choices of materials, labor practices and product quality. And since Millennials find it important to be heard on these issues, engaging them in conversation about the products you sell will help build your reputation as a trustworthy brand.

Be functional

Durability is the new black, according to the Business Insider, and our report, The Everything Guide to Millennials, corroborates this finding. Our study found that 94% of Gen Y consumers want products that are functional and 93% favor high-quality purchases.

The brands that are becoming more popular among Millennials—Patagonia, The North Face and Fjallraven—all pride themselves for creating long-lasting products. For example, Fjallraven products tend to last for fourteen seasons or seven years on average. To have such staying power, the design needs to be both classic and of very high quality.

Be authentic

More Millennials are favoring brands that show their true colors. The rise of values-based marketing means shoppers are supporting companies that are not afraid to take a stance on social issues.

Being authentic to the values you hold can have a big impact. Recently, for instance, when Patagonia said it was fighting the U.S. government to save a national monument in Utah, many shoppers, including Millennials, applauded the move.

To attract Millennials, “you have to articulate who you are, what you stand for, what’s your purpose, what do you care about,” Bill Thomas, the global chairman of KPMG International, said recently on a panel at the World Economic Forum. “If it’s not greater and broader than simply the bottom line, then you are going to leave yourself at [their] mercy.”

Standing up for your values has staying power. Early reports on the shopping behavior of Generation Z, the cohort after Millennials, suggest that they also care about things like authenticity and sustainability.

Like the world they evolve in, Millennial preferences change quickly. It’s crucial to continue to engage these customers to understand their emotions, attitudes and intent.

To learn more about what Millennials care about, how they view brands and how they shop, download The Everything Guide To Millennials.

The Everything Guide to Millennials - comprehensive report from Vision Critical



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