An Inside Look at Zulily's Back-to-School Strategy
The 2021 back-to-school shopping season figures to be unique. After over a year of online/virtual school for most students, kids are looking to finally express themselves creatively through fashion. While younger students may not have the money to buy their own back-to-school items, they still play a major role in purchase decisions. According to Zulily's 2021 Fashion Forecast, kids are influencing 99 percent of their parents' purchase decisions.
This year’s back-to-school season is not only exciting for kids, but for their parents as well. More specifically moms, who make 90 percent of purchase decisions. Sheila Nugent, director of merchandising, kid accessories at Zulily, explained the importance of this BTS season.
“For moms, they’re excited for their kids to have that important social interaction,” Nugent says, “but it’s also a time to celebrate getting back to a bit of normalcy.”
Kids this year have a newfound sense of creativity, suggests Nugent. That creativity will be reflected in Zulily's back-to-school product offerings.
“Our survey of 1,000 kids nationwide shows kids aren’t just dressing off the rack, they’re taking back-to-school fashion into their own hands with personalization as the lead theme,” Nugent notes. “Unlike previous back-to-school seasons, Gen Z is responsible for the fundamental shift in the way families shop as the vast majority of back-to-school shopping — 83 percent — is done jointly. Kids are going shopping with their parents.”
Zulily has designed its BTS shopping experience to include personalization elements, as 90 percent of kids say that their productivity feels higher when they can express their personal style.
“Zulily’s Back-to-School Shop features thousands of items, from apparel, shoes and gear to school supplies and learning resources,” Nugent says. “We have one of the largest collections available, with millions of unique outfit combinations for kids this back-to-school season. No two looks are the same.”
The company also plans to reward children’s creativity by launching Zulily’s Back-to-School #UniquelyZu Fashion Design Contest. Zulily will award six outfit designers a $6,000 prize package, along with an opportunity to assist in designing an exclusive Zulily capsule collection launching in 2022.
As part of our conversation, Nugent identified the merchandise trends Zulily is forecasting for this BTS season:
Movers and Shakers
“The first trend, what we’re calling 'Movers and Shakers,' shows kids are using unique style to help them feel their best and view style as a means to channel confidence and spark performance at school,” Nugent says.
Glue Guns and Glitter Bombs
This trend puts an emphasis on creativity instead of confidence.
“Kids are customizing their clothes with glue guns, BeDazzlers, scissors and more to create styles that are uniquely them,” says Nugent.
Retro and Reimagined
It turns out that kids are drawing inspiration from their parents this BTS season!
“Fifty-nine percent say they’ve raided their parents' closet for clothing, with nearly half (47 percent) saying the 2010s was the coolest fashion decade, with the 2000s and 1990s tied for second,” Nugent says.
Nugent believes some of the BTS trends we’re currently seeing, such as DIY and personalization, will carry into the Q4 holiday shopping season.
“Seventy percent of kids say they add personal touches to articles of clothing to make them feel more distinctively special,” Nugent says. “Whether its gifts for themselves or creating for others, the DIY trend is here to stay.”
Kendra Franklin is an editorial intern for NAPCO Media, parent company of Total Retail. She is attending Temple University for her bachelor’s degree in Media Studies and Production, with a minor in Content Creation.
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