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Study: Stop Trying to Sell Jeans to Millennials

Retailers and brands are still intent on separating and targeting millennial denim consumers. A new study from A.T. Kearney and The NPD Group highlights areas of opportunity unrelated to age.

It’s true that millennials buy more jeans than other age brackets: about 18 percent of millennials are heavy purchasers of jeans, compared to 10 percent of Gen-Xers and almost 8 percent of Boomers. However, millennials still do not hold the majority of purchasing power, they only represent 38 percent of total apparel spending in the United States. Overall, Gen-Xers are responsible for 40 percent of jeans sales, while millennials take 34 percent and Boomers buy 24 percent.

The study suggests that there are factors beyond age that retailers should consider in their marketing. The study points out life stage, lifestyle and fashion attitude as important sub-categories.

In terms of life stage, research shows that millennials and Gen-Xers with children buy more jeans than their peers without children. An active lifestyle is also an important trend among millennials, driving higher purchases across the board in this age group. Finally, fashion-forward shoppers, those who identify as up-to-date on the latest fashion trends, are 2.2 times more likely to be heavy purchasers of jeans across generations.

NPD Chief Industry Analyst Marshal Cohen said, “Everyone’s talking about millennials now, but there’s real risk in ignoring other generations who still wield tremendous purchasing power.” He continued, “And, when it comes to Millennials, the other thing many retailers fail to understand is that not all Millennials are created equal. Depending on lifestyle and life stage, Millennials could be more—or less—likely to buy your brand.”

The study organizers suggest that retailers consider breaking away from age-based merchandise like Young Contemporary categories in stores, or use social media to create a personalized digital shopping experience.