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College Stores Have the Edge With Millennial Marketing

Posted by Joe Clarkin on 5/13/14 11:00 PM
Topics: college retail, college store stories, millennials

This excerpt comes from an article by Stacy Berns, president of Berns Communications Group, and originally published on Forbes. It instructs those who are interested in capturing the millennial market to pay attention to the way collegiate retail has successfully wooed this demographic for years. Read over the selection below and then we encourage you to check out the rest of the article.

But first, take a moment to pat yourselves on the back. You’re doing it right.

Gone are the days when loud music, strong branding fragrance and lines around the block captured the hearts of the fickle teenager and their tolerant parents. Teen retailers can’t seem to figure out how to reinvent themselves and by that I mean connect with, market and sell to this powerful new generation of consumers. Millennials – and teens especially – are digital natives. Their buying habits are highly influenced by the social, mobile and e-commerce technology. And they want a shopping experience that is individualized, digitally infused and cool.

Teen retailers need to go back to school – literally – and take a lesson from the one segment of retailing that is successfully winning over teen consumers: college and university stores. There are more than 3,000 stores serving US colleges, universities and schools, according to the National Association of College Stores, selling everything from textbooks to college-themed clothing, accessories and gift items – even skateboards.

College stores create an individualized shopping experience that is unique to the university’s culture and brand – and to the kinds of students they attract. At sports-crazed schools like Duke or Miami, for example, a large share of the retail square footage at campus stores goes to team-related and mascot-themed merchandise. The NYU store, on the other hand, devotes a lot of space to a West Village-type cafe where students can enjoy a vegan muffin and latte while they shop.

If fashion retailers want to “make the grade” in selling and marketing to teens, they need to study three fundamental strategies of college and university stores: (1) Make sure your brand speaks directly to the unique identity and personality of your customers; (2) Connect socially via content that is relevant and engaging; (3) provide a shopping experience that is highly e-commerce enabled for a generation that was born with a digital spoon in their mouth.

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