If Mom's told you once, she’s told you a million times: “Money doesn’t grow on trees.”
Of course, some teens have trouble accepting the value of this age-old adage. But in today’s economy, as the Wall Street Journal reports, teen-clothing retailers like Aeropostale, Buckle Inc., and Old Navy are listening to Mom, their primary customer, and even catering to her shopping needs.
It makes sense to “TTM,” or target the mom, a term internalized by Aeropostale, as reports show teen spending power rapidly shifts from allowances to parents’ budgets. "You need to make that mom feel comfortable, because ultimately she's writing the check," says Richard Jaffe, apparel and softlines director at brokerage firm Stifel Nicolaus & Co.
Traditionally, marketing to moms meant stressing good quality products at reasonable prices. Though retailers are staying true to that approach, they are also branding their stores as family-friendly environments.
According to Aeropostale's Tom Johnson:
We're cognizant of the mom and the impact that that mom has is critical to our success. Aeropostale is a brand designed around the experience of families shopping together.
The Wall Street Journal lists a few TTM strategies:
Aeropostale Inc. is designing new stores with wider aisles to accommodate parents with strollers and more seats to keep them in the store longer.
Buckle Inc. is offering personal-shopping appointments outside of store hours to work around parents' schedules.
Old Navy is slanting its assortment to stress value as much as glamour.
But retailers vying for Mom’s attention must also touch the right senses. Stores rely on perfumes, colognes -- even the vibrations from a “try me” massage chair -- to stay with the consumer long after she’s left.
With a marketing shift from teens to moms, an atmosphere adjustment might be required: Unlike teens, parents prefer brighter lighting (to clearly see merchandise and prices) over darker, nightclub-like lighting; and parents prefer quieter music over, well, not-so-quiet nightclub-like music.
Does that mean retailers like Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister (also operated by Abercrombie), teen-clothing brands committed to the upbeat, party atmosphere, may lose out on sales to brands taking the parents-friendly approach? Perhaps not. According to a recent Piper Jaffray report, in spite of a 14% decline in teen-fashion spending, Hollister ranked second in teen-clothing brands (after West Coast Brands). And a teen spending survey by Seventeen magazine reported:
Teens want to look good no matter what: nearly three-quarters are spending the same or more this year on either cosmetics (70%), clothing (72%), hair products (71%) or skin care (74%).
But, the survey also showed, teens are spending smarter by waiting for items to go on sale and staying away from impulse buys.
Spending smarter, even if not less? Well, it still sounds like teens may be learning the value of a buck, a lesson they and their parents can bond over while shopping together (or not).