Emily Baines
February 15, 2016 10:18 am
Walt Disney Studios

This is no surprise to those of you who, like me, love to shop online: According to Business Insider, sites like Instagram and Pinterest are changing the way we shop! And I thought Pinterest was just a place to pin my dream wedding dresses…

According to Marcie Merriman, Generation Z expert and Executive Director of Growth Strategy and Retail Innovation at Ernst & Young, young people (am I still in that category?) want to purchase experiences rather than stuff. And when they do buy clothes, they want to be able to show them off on sites such as Twitter and Instagram. “Their entire life, if it’s not shareable, it didn’t happen. Experiences define them much more than the products that they buy.”

Enter Pinterest. Pinterest is unique in that, unlike other social media outlets, which are focused on  memorializing the past, Pinterest is focused on the future. By pinning aspirational dream outfits that premiered just hours before on the runway, women have a myriad of ideas for future outfits. Meanwhile, every morning I wake up I stare at my closet blankly. Fast fashion stores, rather than traditional retailers, are more equipped to fill their quickly-changing fashion desires.

Business Insider points out that this immediate access to haute-couture fashion trends is a relatively new phenomenon, which is why retailers that thrived in the ’90s—like Gap and J.Crew—might be struggling. Good point: When I was in middle school, Abercrombie and Fitch was all the rage. Now, I don’t know anyone who wears them anymore.

“Back in the ’80s and ’90s, there wasn’t real access to higher-level fashion,” Kate David Hudson, co-founder of online fashion magazine Editorialist, told the The New York Times. “It was the heyday of business casual, and stores did well selling core staples.” Hence, again, the popularity of Gap and Abercrombie.

But now, consumers have practically instant access to trends on the runway, and they want those looks ASAP. That’s why companies like Zara, with rapid-fire supply chains, are succeeding; they can respond to runway trends and churn out runway-inspired designs swiftly.

Great. Now I want to head over to Zara today. I wonder if they’re having a President’s Day sale?

But again, let’s remember: Today’s young shoppers are obsessed with sharing their purchases on Snapchat. Due to their limited budgets (babysitting still does not pay), young shoppers are more likely to purchase lots of clothes at fast fashion retailers, like cutting-edge Zara or cheap Forever 21, so that they have ample images to share.

A recent Ernst & Young survey reported that teens, or Generation Z, “has the highest expectations out of all consumers, and if retailers please them, they’ll in turn, please everyone.”

“What I’m suggesting is that [retailers] understand the needs of Gen Z as the barometer,” Merriman told Business Insider. “They have the highest expectations. If you please them, you’re also going to please millennials—and Gen X and Baby Boomers and others will be happy.”

I guess I should call up my adolescent cousin and ask her what fashions I should be shopping. She’s apparently a far more savvy shopper than me! And I gotta say, I do love her Snapchats…

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