High-end retailers have made a fortune selling merchandise emblazoned with their corporate logos. From the interlocking LV design of Louis Vuitton to the instantly recognizable Lacoste crocodile, designers have long used corporate logos to appeal to consumers with a high level of disposable income. Because millennials value individuality over conformity, however, this tactic is not as effective as it used to be.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, you couldn't walk through a high school without seeing at least a few students decked out in hoodies and tees from Abercrombie & Fitch. Teens saw the A&F logo as a status symbol, giving Abercrombie the opportunity to sell T-shirts for $40 each. Parents in affluent neighborhoods even gave their daughters Coach purses and Louis Vuitton handbags for special occasions. Both design houses produced dozens of items covered with their corporate logos, making it easy for teens to show off at school.
Baby boomers and members of Generation X may have been into status symbols, but millennials prefer to buy clothing without conspicuous corporate logos. Declining sales are forcing retailers such as Coach and Abercrombie & Fitch to come up with designs that appeal to the millennial's sense of individuality. Instead of latching on to design and marketing trends, Abercrombie is trying to stage a comeback by creating timeless pieces. After a sharp drop in sales, Coach is working on designs that do not feature the company logo.
Millennials have different priorities when it comes to spending their money. Instead of buying items covered in corporate logos, millennials tend to spend their disposable income on travel, tech products and food. Because millennials have to pay off their student loans and deal with an uncertain economic future, they don't have as much discretionary income as members of previous generations. As a result, members of Generation Y are flocking to fast-fashion retailers instead of spending money on high-end brands.
For millennials, corporate logos are not as important as value and practicality. Shoppers in this demographic are more interested in finding bargains or buying one-of-a-kind products than they are in providing free advertising for expensive brands. Some retailers are taking advantage of this trend by unveiling simpler designs. Kate Spade products have a small brand stamp on them, but the stamp is not central to the overall design, so the brand is gaining in popularity with millennials. Declining sales in North America have also forced Michael Kors to stop focusing on logos and start focusing on classic designs.
Now that millennials are adults, they have the power to dictate marketing trends and change the face of the retail industry. Instead of pushing products covered in corporate logos, retailers must adapt to new trends and offer products that help millennials maintain their sense of individuality.
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