People scurry around in every different direction. All you can hear is the loud murmurs of voices with the occasional exclamations such as “Look mom! 50 percent at Bath and Body Works!” and “Wow! Buy One Get One Free at American Eagle!” As you pass each store in the mall, the lines to purchase items are almost flowing out of the door. Black Friday is the day that stores have the biggest sales of the year. This attracts a large number of customers causing crowded pathways and barely enough room to see any of the products available for purchase.
Even on a day like Black Friday, customers have different techniques for how and what they decide to shop for. New trends are becoming apparent in the shopping culture among college students, and people are steering away from old shopping habits by exploring new stores and different ways to shop.
People follow new trends and styles while shopping in stores, online and by looking at what others around them wear. Stores have to carefully plan their marketing and advertising strategies to reach the most consumers while getting the most profit.
“Whenever I decide to shop at the mall, I have my go-to stores that I always visit because their clothes match my casual, boho-chic clothing style,” said Madi Butcher, a student at Oglethorpe University. “However, if I were to spontaneously decide to check out a new store, their front window would have to grab my attention with outfits that look like something I would wear.”
Butcher enjoys picking clothes to wear for class because she feels it accurately shows who she is as a person through her carefully decided outfits. Butcher flips one-by-one through her shirts in her closet until she finds a black crop top with yellow sunflowers. She pairs it with light washed, boot cut jeans, and she completes the outfit by grabbing a pair of black sandals from her shoe stand. Butcher mulls over her necklaces carefully aligned on her jewelry stand that sits on her desk, then finally picks out a gold layered necklace. “I feel like myself and that I’m ready to take on my day,” said Butcher after getting dressed in the outfit that she put together for class.
Alivia Mattiace, another Oglethorpe University student, enjoys shopping at small boutiques versus large stores overwhelmed by clothing racks. “I find it easier to shop in a small store that has one type of style because I know what I’m looking for and what I’m going to find when I walk in,” said Mattiace. “I get very overwhelmed when I go to a store like Macy’s because there are too many things that aren’t organized, and I can never find what I’m looking for.”
Stores are successful when they follow simple marketing and advertising rules. They should target a specific audience while keeping local relevance in mind in order to appeal to their community. Stores should provide online access to shoppers by creating an easily accessible and navigable website, as well as offer online reviews as proof of purchase. Most importantly, it is key that stores tell a visual story of their brand with an eye-catching window display and webpage to encourage sales and draw in a customer’s curiosity.
Abercrombie and Fitch, a store popular among teens, has seen a large drop in sales from $72.8 million in 2015 to $15.2 million in 2016. However, sales at the company were up 9 percent Wednesday, but they have still decided to announce that they will be closing up to 60 stores in 2018. “I have noticed a decline in the number of customers who come in the store,” said Moe Zidane, an employee at Abercrombie and Fitch. “My shift goes by slower and slower each day which means it is harder for me to meet my individual sales goal.”
Zidane noticed that customers are more likely to buy something when it is on sale or if what they are specifically looking for, like ripped medium washed jeans, is in store. He also noticed that the peak periods throughout the day are around 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Zidane does his best to talk to each shopper and find out what they are looking for and how he can help.
Surprisingly, male and female college students have similar shopping techniques. “I decide what to buy based on the things I’ve previously seen or liked,” said Slater Guevara, a student at Oglethorpe University. “I shop mostly online and sometimes in stores, and my favorite brands are Ralph Lauren and Nike.” Guevara also likes Hollister as a brand, but it is his least favorite store to shop in because the setup is unorganized and the store is dimly lit, so it is hard to see the clothes clearly. Megan Heintz, another student who attends Oglethorpe University said, “I shop for clothes based on what’s on sale while also getting the latest brands that are trending, and I mostly enjoy shopping online.” Heintz does not like shopping at small stores where sales associates pressure you into buying clothes and constantly ask if you need help. She also likes shopping for Adidas because they portray an active lifestyle and it is easy to navigate their website.
Some college students prefer to take advantage of shopping on Cyber Monday in order to save money online instead of fighting the crowds on Black Friday. “I enjoy staying in the comfort of my own room, wrapped up in my blanket, sipping on a cup of coffee while I order clothes on my laptop,” said Lauren Adams, an Oglethorpe University student. Adams finds it easier to navigate a website with the option to click on specific categories, such as sweaters and tops instead of flipping through clothing racks. It is also more convenient to switch stores with the click of a button, instead of walking across a mall. Adams’ transaction can be finished in practically seconds by adding an item to her cart and completing the order with her card and shipping information that is already saved in her laptop. “I beat the lines that could take up to 30 minutes of my time, and I don’t have to worry about missing a deal at another store,” said Adams.
However, there are some college students that don’t take shopping into account at all. “I never really dress up for class,” said Cory Delair, a student at Oglethorpe University. “My everyday clothes pretty much consist of t-shirts, shorts, sweatpants and jackets. If I could wear pajamas to class, I would!”