A look from Wild Fable.

When it comes to attracting teens and young adults, department stores and mass merchants have their work cut out for them.

According to a study by Coresight Research, department stores have the highest penetration of shoppers ages 45 to 60. Target Corp. and T.J. Maxx attract younger age groups, but Target’s popularity trails off rapidly beyond the 30- to 44-year-old cohort, while T.J. Maxx has the highest penetration of shoppers 18 to 29.

Target in the last 18 months has launched 12 new brands for men, women and home, including Goodfellow & Co., A New Day and Hearth & Hand With Magnolia, respectively. The retailer has clearly ramped up its attention to Gen Z and Millennials. Mark Tritton, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, said the retailer’s three most recent launches fill a specific void, with Wild Fable, fashion for teens and young women; Original Use, streetwear-inspired clothing for young men, and Heyday, Target’s first owned electronics brand consisting of on-trend tech products such as headphones, phone cases and speakers.

“Target is on a journey to reimagine our portfolio of owned and exclusive brands,” Tritton said. “We’re examining every aspect of our business to identify opportunities to better serve our guests. Through our research and in speaking with thousands of guests, we found that we could fill a white space in the market by bringing Gen Z and Millennial guests brands and experiences that are authentic to them, regardless of how they choose to shop. Wild Fable, Original Use and Heyday offer of-the-moment style and quality, two things that are important to these guests, as well as value.”

Target last week said it will not renew its contract with C9 by Champion when it expires in 2020. The C9 activewear brand for men, women and children — sold at Target since 2004 — is being eliminated as part of a multiyear strategy to overhaul the retailer’s portfolio of exclusive brands. Target said last summer it was exiting Merona and Mossimo, which at one time were two of its biggest-volume labels.

With prices under $40, Wild Fable is available in extended sizes, from 0 to 26W. The collection has a bit of a punk-rock flair with plaid cropped tops and plaid pants in colors that can be mixed and matched, pink miniskirts and tops, color-blocked denim jackets and sleeveless denim jackets frayed around the arms. A white T-shirt with a strategically placed slit bears a message, “Make it happen,” that looks like it was handwritten on the neckline. Black lace-up leggings, black-and-white checkered cropped jackets, cropped and frayed or rolled-up jeans and floral-print blue dresses round out the offering.

Original Use has a streetwear edge with jeans in washes ranging from very light blue and light gray to black, and camouflage-print  bomber jackets and button-down shirts. Big and tall sizes are available for the brand, which ranges in price from $10 to $40.

While Target plans to continue to evolve its portfolio in areas such as apparel and accessories and home, the retailer said it will also build new offerings across its entire business, including categories such as essentials, beauty and electronics, among others. “It will be wherever we see a clear opportunity to better serve our guests and differentiate our assortment,” the retailer said.

Target was encouraged to pursue the teen and young adult space by a recent National Retail Federation study that found that the groups are looking for brands that represent their individuality. The study also showed that 98 percent of teens still shop in physical stores. The retailer said it worked with hundreds of young guests who informed the design and shopping experiences for the three new brands.

“They see the shopping experience as a fun outing with friends or family,” the retailer said. “They appreciate the immediate feedback and like to explore without a commitment to buy. This audience also engages in online shopping for purchases and research such as size options and sharing with friends, which makes a seamless digital experience important.”

Target is making “significant investments in experiences that make shopping special and bring all of our brands to life.” For example, there’s more cross-merchandising between departments. In the women’s area, displays will include products for Gen Zers and Millennials, with accessories, shoes and beauty items integrated with apparel so younger customers can shop with family and friends.

A new young adult digital hub features the three brands along with select beauty products. User-generated content is there to inspire shoppers and validate their purchases via @TargetTag Instagram feed. Real teens who do interesting things are highlighted, such as Jules, a member of the all-female NYC-based Skate Kitchen, and there’s a list of trending items. It’s all an effort to provide Gen Z and Millennials with an inclusive shopping experience that’s relevant to their life stage, the retailer said.

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