Brand Sauce: R.I.P. Claire’s Accessories
If you are a solid 90’s girl like me, a typical shopping trip always involved a check-in into pure girl heaven – Claire’s Accessories. The glitter, the fluffiness, the ridiculous amount of hair clips and earrings filled me with joy every time I stepped into the store – I knew I would be strutting out of this shop with a bag full of random accessories straight into Monday morning at school, feeling like one fashion diva.
It was a shop loved by so many girls of my generation and filled a much needed market for young girly teenagers.
Yet it’s such a sad sight to see the store looking tired, empty and now at the brink of retirement. But am I surprised? Hell no.
Age creeps up on all of us, but being a brand you can forever stay young IF your take the elixir of future scoping.
Younger fresh brands came into the market and pushed poor Claire’s straight out of her share. She became the uncool, baby of the group compared to the new girls on the block, who were sassy, independent and grown up.
New teenage fashion for a new sense of self
From the turn of the century onwards, the onset of social media, online shopping and major world changes brought about a new wave of teenager self expression – independence and individuality at its core. That’s when teenage brands like Jack Wills, Hollister and Victoria Secrets really captured the new wave of adolescence, shopping became an experience, a time to hang out (without the parents) and the brands themselves became teenage centric. These brands really captured a new way of growing up – teenagers wanted to be treated like adults, they aspired to live a certain lifestyle and these companies understood their needs.
More pocket money meant teenagers spent more time out of the house, having fun and shopping with their friends. Fashion brands who positioned themselves as affordable lifestyle brands like H&M, Forever 21 and Primark, became a magnet to aspirational teens and hit the jackpot.
H&M was a game changer for me. Compared to New Look or Primark, H&M brought a new understated Scandi style that I had never seen before. The layout of the shop, look and feel of the brand felt accessible, considered but grown up. However all these retailers provided a glimpse of a lifestyle I could achieve reinforced with a range of on trend fashion, loads of accessories and basically everything I wanted under one roof, so why go elsewhere?
Awesome in-store experience
Then Forever 21 came along, who really capitalised on the teen accessorise market by ramping up retail experience. Levels and levels of trendy clothing and accessories were successfully laid out through lifestyle zoning – a whole new retail theatre for teenagers.
Brands like Forever 21, Hollister and Urban outfitters offered a whole new sensorial experience, which teens ate up and still happily spent hours with their mates in store.
Topshop took it to a new level bringing in live DJs, celebrities and bloggers; stimulating and seducing consumers through sensory engagement and exclusive events.
They all offered teenagers a lifestyle that they couldn’t say no to – independence and individuality – unlike Claire’s who have not changed their store since the 90s.
Social media and cultural movements
As social media grew, a teenagers world was opened up to new possibilities especially with styles and trends being shared from around the world. Global inspiration was now a touch away. Instead of getting fashion tips from Mizz magazine teenage girls could now watch bloggers and makeup artists show you exactly what to do. Liberating girls from the awkwardness of going in store for advice and experimenting in a safe space at home.
That liberation continued with brands like ASOS and Missguided offering home delivery.
ASOS took away any restrictions – it brought the fashion expert to you – filling every need, product and all the advice available there and then without you moving one butt cheek.
But a major part of these two brands success is using these social platforms to really get to grips with with their target audience, communicating on a personal level and getting ‘real’ with them.
Female empowerment has been a pivotal social movement embraced and documented on social media. Brands like Missguided have gripped that female drive and underpinned a lot of their marketing and campaigns around strong no BS women-hood. These aren’t just fashion labels, they’ve become aspirational personalities and voices for young girls to express bigger issues. But what I love about these brands is they can be playful and sexy but also supportive of their online community and followers of their brand – only enhancing teens desire for independence and individuality.
Through their iphones, teenagers can craft their life, make statements of who they are and choose brands they want to follow. Brand loyalty isn’t a thing anymore for teenagers, brand relevance is far more important, be that political, trends, cultural, you’ve got to be speaking and engaging on their terms and sadly Claire’s just stayed stuck – positioning as tween than teen which I think was a big mistake. Young girl’s aspire to be older girls so Claire’s actually reduced their appeal to a larger teenage market.
There’s been so many trends like festival gem art, glitter cosmetics and the resurgence of 90s fashion that Claire’s could have been the go to place for but didn’t keep up with their target audience. The new brand offering Riley Rose from Forever 21 is exactly what I hoped Claire’s would have become, it’s pure 2018 girl heaven.
The moral of the story?
Overall, Claire’s could and should have been more. It just didn’t keep up with the time.
Of course many factors will have influenced decision making within the business internally but COME ON! Where was the future vision for the business. Why didn’t they keep up with teenager trends in fashion? Claire’s had shops all over the UK in prime locations – just an update on stock and a new look and feel and I think it could have been embraced by new teenage generations.
So invest in trend awareness and keep track of social change – be ready to embrace a new look and provide a shopping experience that meets the needs of your customers.
Claire’s: The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/mar/19/claires-bankrupt-accessories-stores-latest-filing
Urban Outfitters: Pinterest
Riley Rose: Retail focus http://www.retail-focus.co.uk/projects/3331-project-riley-rose
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