If you were to listen to the conventional wisdom of the business press it would appear as though Millennial consumers are the demise of virtually every industry. American consumers who were born in the 1980s and the early 1990s have been blamed for everything from threatening the automobile industry and housing market because of their penchant for using ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft and for living with their parents and using services like Airbnb. Recently a fashion magazine blamed them for killing the retail company J. Crew while another publication laid the blame for disappointing sales of diamonds on the shoulders of millennial consumers. Some journalists have even bemoaned the fact that millennials don’t seem to be purchasing fabric softener at the same rates their parents did. However where some commentators and business leaders see a threat companies like the digital retailer Fabletics see an opportunity.
Fabletics is an online retailer that focuses on designing and selling distinctive athleisure wear. While the definition of athleisure might seem to be a bit elusive according to the business publication Business Insider athleisure wear is defined as a “hybrid of business casual” and fitness apparel. Though the combination might seem to be a strange at first the combination of clothes that look nice and that are also incredibly comfortable to wear makes a lot of sense. Athleisure is incredibly functional and seems to be speaking to the demands that more American consumers, particularly millennials, are making on their wardrobes. While fashion retailers often used luxury and exclusivity as a way to draw new customers into their stores Millennial consumers appear to prefer to spend their money on experiences rather than luxury objects. Athleisure wear is about lifestyle and clothing being incorporated into the healthy and active lifestyle that the consumer wants to experience.
One of the reasons that Fabletics is winning big with younger consumers is that it understands how the digital retail environment that they are accustomed to works. These days referrals about products can come from your best friend and they can also come from a fashion blogger that you have been following for years or a well-written insightful review left by a stranger online. According to a study customers spend more time online searching online reviews than they do looking up prices which suggests that a product review might influence their decision to make a purchase much more than how much an item will set them back financially. All of this is connected to something called the power of the crowd where consumers are no longer passive recipients of companies’ messages but actively shaping the way that their products are perceived. Rather than fighting the power of the crowd Fabletics embraces it. It spends times pouring over reviews that its customers leave on sites like Trustpilot, leaving replies and using the feedback that is left there to make its products better.
Fabletics co-founder Kate Hudson has a recipe for Fabletics’ success. It includes not being afraid to get involved the nitty gritty details of running an online business, designing creative marketing strategies, being proactive about taking advantage of business opportunities that no one else is seeing in the marketplace and by paying attention what the data is saying.