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Catherine Moellering leads Tobe, a division of The Doneger Group and publisher of the “Tobe Report,” a leading fashion industry publication that forecasts trends and consults with leading marketers and retailers. She spoke with eMarketer’s Tobi Elkin about teen girls’ shopping behavior and how retailers can successfully tap into their interests.
eMarketer: What do retailers need to know about teen girls’ shopping behavior?
Catherine Moellering: Teen girls love celebrities and celebrity collaboration. The celebrity who’s wearing or designing the item and the magazine that cites the “look” are big influences. They’re coming of age at the height of the social network phenomenon.
Teen girls are motivated by what their peers are doing and what they’re wearing. Peers are becoming celebrities themselves in video fashion hauls. It’s important to remember that even with all the virtual trying-on, sharing of looks on social feeds and so forth, teens experience it as entertainment, rather than research.
You’ve got to understand who the consumer is and how she relates to the retail paradigm differently. Retailers need to spend some time thinking about who the teen girl is and they need to engage this consumer in relation to her peers.
eMarketer: Can you cite a retailer that has done something innovative to attract new teen girl customers?
Moellering: JCPenney is doing a fantastic job engaging teen girls. It recently hosted a shopping haul event where haulers were invited to the stores to purchase product and post video about their experiences. The chain sponsored a national competition in which the haulers could win gift certificates. The initiative drove customers into the store.
We’ll see more shopping hauls, pop-up stores and other relatively inexpensive grassroots initiatives going forward because they resonate with this audience.
eMarketer: What web features or tools can help teen girls make purchase decisions?
Moellering: You have to find a way to engage this consumer and keep her involved beyond sales promotions and coupons. We love the idea of online tutorials for teen girls. For example, how to apply liquid eyeliner for the perfect cat eye; how to wear boots in the summer or denim shorts in the winter. It’s easy for retailers to put on their site.
The tween and teen girl consumer is hungry for this information. She really likes the idea of being her own stylist. She likes to see what her peers are doing. It’s really about providing the tools on your site so girls will start to associate you, the retailer, as a great place for putting together their prom look.
Retailers should also take a look at providing product reviews—girls love to tell you what they think. Plus, it’s good for girls to see how many of their peers purchased a certain item from you before.
eMarketer: What do teens expect from an online shopping experience and how can a retailer satisfy those expectations?
Moellering: They show up and say “delight me.” They expect retailers to take the energy and excitement of what’s happening online and on social media and translate that to the physical store environment.
Wet Seal’s mobile barcode scanning, which ties into Facebook feeds, is a great example of how retailers are marrying mobile and online with the experience of shopping in a physical store.
The ability to scan and receive a feed with user-generated outfit ideas makes the teen girl the stylist. It lets her be engaged in the process and also be the one who’s leading. Remember, the teen girl is the expert and the stylist. Let her be in charge.
A longer version of this interview is available to eMarketer Total Access clients only. If you’d like to learn more about becoming a Total Access client, click here.
Check out today’s other article, “How Well Is Social Media Fitting into the Marketing Mix?”
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