In the United States, some once-loved stores are trying to understand decreasing sales. Jewelry store Tiffany & Co. is an example. Clothing store the Gap, and motorcycle store Harley Davidson are others. These three are more than shopping places – they are brands, public images strongly linked with an object or person.
But today’s younger Americans in their 20s and 30s are not as interested in buying things from these brands as their parents were. Instead, a store like Target has gained the attention and money of many so-called Millennials, people who became adults in the 21st century.
Target has been around for more than 50 years. Today, it is the 8th largest seller in the country. One reason is because it has changed its stores for a new generation of shoppers. For example, it started offering more natural foods and designer clothing. It also created a showroom for the latest kinds of things for the home.
Target’s success shows that the in-store experience remains important. While many Americans are shopping online, just 11 percent of retail sales are done on the internet. That means 89 percent of buying is done in the traditional way: walking into a store, reports the United States Department of Commerce.
“Target was really stuck… and, all the sudden, was able to again drive growth with millennials,” says Jason Dorsey. He is president and millennial expert at the Center for Generational Kinetics.
Target noticed that millennials shop differently from their parents. Since they are the country’s largest living generation, they are important for retailers.
They want new things, not the old brands they grew up knowing. They also want adventure and experiences. Finally, they are very concerned with brands that feel authentic.
Dorsey said, “What millennials tell us is that an authentic brand…has a personality. The brand itself has …values.” He added that millennials also value convenience.
Millennials are expected to be big spenders over the next ten years. In that time, they will begin to buy things for new homes and start having children. Brands that fail to appeal to these important young shoppers can quickly find themselves in trouble.
Millennials will not buy old brands “that they think don't really understand or get them,” Dorsey says. He says retailers that sell items that seem to be special are likely to do well.
In contrast, millennials have not shown much interest in the costly jewelry sold by Tiffany. The 200-year-old brand is now being sold to a French company.
At Harley Davidson, sales of motorcycles have been decreasing since 2014. The brand once represented freedom and the possibilities of the open road. Now, young people want to use ride-sharing companies to move around.
And most young people today do not shop at the Gap, whose clothes were once so common they looked like a uniform for Americans in their 20s.
“You know millennials are the most photographed generation of adults in history,” Dorsey said.
In those photographs, they want to send a message, Dorsey explained. They want to show that they buy from stores that treat people well, and are good for the environment.
I’m Jonathan Evans.
VOA’s Dora Mekouar reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.
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Words in This Story
brand – n. a category of products that are all made by a particular company and all have a particular name
retailer – n. a business selling things directly to customers for their own use
stuck – adj. burdened with something unpleasant
kinetics – n. a branch of science that deals with the effects of forces upon the motions of material bodies or with changes in a physical or chemical system
authentic – adj. being exactly as appears or as claimed
convenience – n. a quality or situation that makes something easy or useful for someone by reducing the amount of work or time required to do something