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Country Road sees untapped potential in millennials

Country Road will launch a 15-piece limited edition womenswear collection, CR.Capsule, this Thursday in a bid to attract younger consumers aged 20 to 35 years old.

The fashion retailer designed the collection to fill a gap in its current product offering and selected social media influencer and photographer Amanda Shadforth, of the popular fashion blog Oracle Fox, to shoot the campaign.

The move comes on the heels of the brand’s first menswear pop-up store, which opened in mid-August at Sydney Airport’s T2 domestic terminal.

In July, Country Road’s parent company, South African conglomerate Woolworths Holdings Limited, reported a 0.4 per cent drop in the brand’s like-for-like sales, while overall sales rose 5.1 per cent in Australian dollar terms.

The retail group said Country Road’s “above-market performance reflected the ongoing improvements to ranges during the year”.

“Everyone is starting to look like a millennial”

Gaining the loyalty of millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, is a long-term play for growth, according to Alita Harvey-Rodriguez, managing director of Milk It Academy.

“Brands are interested in attracting a consumer who is going to be with them for life. With millennials, they’re looking at a $10,000 lifetime value,” she told IRW.

Indeed, Country Road is just the latest example of this. Last year, Melbourne’s Eastland shopping centre teamed up with Australian fashion influencer Margaret Zhang to produce a coffee table book featuring local people and places, and global jewellery retailer Swarovski partnered with model Karlie Kloss on a series of holiday-themed ‘how-to’ videos for YouTube.

However, appealing to millennials requires more than simple partnering with young, digital influencers. In a blogpost on its website, Swarovski acknowledged that younger consumers have different values than previous generations:

Coming of age in a globalised post-consumer world, this is a generation that values self-expression over standardised products. They prize ethical provenance over material luxury. […] Millennials also have less dollars in their pockets than the previous generation did at the same age. To catch their eye, the industry needs to adapt its product offering and sell them a new narrative. One that better fits their worldview.

Harvey-Rodriguez agrees that price alone isn’t enough to win over millennial consumers.

“If they feel that the brand doesn’t understand who they are – not just in terms of fashion, but as a total person – they won’t buy it,” she said. “[They are] totally inclusive. It’s not just about the fashion, it’s what the fashion represents.”

Research shows millennials want to buy from brands that have a social conscience, whether that’s ethical manufacturing, sustainable sourcing or internal diversity. Shoe brand TOMS has seen success with its one-for-one model.

Crucially, brands and retailers that do target millennials could see their investment pay off in unexpected ways, since millennials drive consumer trends more broadly.

“Brands need to understand that it’s not just how millennials act. Their parents and grandparents are using mobile phones and tablets too. They have greater access to information, which changes the way they consume,” Harvey-Rodriguez said.

“Everyone is starting to look like a millennial now.”

This story first appeared in issue 2154 of Inside Retail Weekly. To subscribe, click here

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