Today’s youth identify in ways outside traditional race and gender norms, and don’t like to be pigeonholed. They take their fashion and style cues from social media and celebrities, and they aren’t afraid to wear their uniqueness loudly and proudly.

Faced with the rise of the millennial set coming into their own as consumers, brands are harnessing the generation’s energy and attitudes to better align themselves with what these young trendsetters want.

Courting the Coveted Millennial Generation

After realizing their average customer was 51 years old, Neiman Marcus recruited a team of 20 merchandise planners, assistant buyers and coordinators, all millennials, to test and source products with the goal of giving the stalwart brand some much-needed cachet with a younger customer base.

The team did not disappoint. In their research, largely social media-based, the millennials came up with 45 brands and 650 new products that were brought into the Neiman Marcus fold, including everything from nutritional supplements, make-up, teas and essential oils. The items were brought together under its “Trending Beauty” shop-within-a-shop, one of several such meta-shops Neiman opened in the past year.

Neiman Marcus uses its NorthPark Center location in Dallas as a sort of test-bed for the new products, allowing the company to see in real-time what customers gravitate towards and what they avoid. This allows them to do real-world research and adapt their product lines based on their findings.

Millennials trendsetters

The Challenge of Categorizing Shoppers Who Don’t Want to be Categorized

The up-and-coming generation presents a challenge to a beauty industry that for so long has catered to the general masses. Young shoppers today reject traditional labels and cultural norms, preferring instead to group themselves into “micro-cultural” niches.

And the research bears this out. According to Business of Fashion, media platform Beautycon recently partnered with research firm Culture Co-Op to survey more than 1,000 of who they call “Pivotals” (13-34 year olds “whose values and behaviors deviate drastically from those of previous generations.”) Their findings produced some interesting statistics, but in essence revealed that these so-called Pivotals have a natural revulsion to even being put into a demographic.

This makes marketing to this key consumer demographic exceedingly difficult, and is forcing brands to be more nimble and flexible than ever before. Getting inside the mind of this particular audience is critical for success going forward for brands who want to remain on the cutting edge of what turns the heads of these young trendsetters.

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