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Macy’s Courts Millennials With New Private Brand

A new private brand from Macy’s Inc. launching this week follows the company’s pre-pandemic plans for reinvention, as the brand that defined “department store” transitions to a “digitally-led omnichannel retailer” and tries to court younger consumers.

The brand, called And Now This, includes ready-to-wear women’s and men’s apparel for a “fashion-forward, contemporary dresser” — likely a young millennial or Generation Z consumer. Macy’s is marketing the brand as one that “inspires shoppers to showcase their most authentic selves” through dresses, bodysuits and athleisure for women and Henley tops, jogger sets and basic tees for men.

“And Now This features elevated essentials for contemporary shoppers looking to dress around trends and confidently express themselves through fashion,” said Durand Guion, vice president of Macy’s Fashion Office, in a company statement.

In an interview with PYMNTS, Macy’s Chief Merchandising Officer Nata Dvir said that And Now This offers fits that are “more relevant” to younger consumers and has a more minimalist aesthetic than Bar III, the retailer’s other private brand targeted to shoppers under 40.

“We are always listening to our customers and expanding our assortment to address their style needs,” Dvir said. “We’ve been seeing increased demand for blended lifestyle clothing — clothes that effortlessly range from casual to festive that are made for every moment of the day.”

The And Now This brand is launching at the start of what potentially could be a record-setting back-to-school shopping season. The National Retail Federation on Monday (July 19) projected that families with elementary, middle-school and high-school students will spend nearly $850 on average in the coming weeks, with over 25 percent of that expected to be clothing. Total back-to-school spending is expected to reach a record $37.1 billion, up over $3 billion from last year.

It remains to be seen, however, how much of consumers’ wallets Macy’s can successfully capture, even as the company pivots and prioritizes younger consumers and digital capabilities.

The Younger Consumer

With the And Now This brand, Macy’s is continuing to chase the under-40 consumer segment, which CEO Jeff Gennette told investors in May remains an area of hyper-focus. “If you … see some of the new brands we’re adding, that’s our objective, really — how do we be more attractive to the under-40 consumer,” he said, adding that by the end of the year, brick-and-mortar stores will be a “physical expression of the under-40 strategy.”

To be sure, the 160-year-old Macy’s brand may not immediately appeal to millennials and Generation Z, who likely associate the retailer with a bygone era of crowded malls and department stores.

However, by launching a private brand rather than bringing in a more established one — as Walmart did last week with Justice — Macy’s likely has more control.

“As a fashion retailer, we are constantly adding and reprioritizing brands in our assortment to address our customers’ style needs,” Gennette said. “As customers’ trends shift, continued flexibility in our inventory allows us to respond to these needs.”

Other initiatives to attract younger customers include expanding payment options, including buy now, pay later (BNPL) services such as Klarna. With the addition of Klarna to Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury online and in-store, Gennette said the retailer has seen higher spend per visit and increased acquisition of new, young customers — 45 percent of whom are under 40 years old.

The Power of Polaris

The launch of And Now This is Macy’s latest move in its three-year restructuring strategy called Polaris, which was announced in February 2020 in an attempt to stabilize profitability and position the company for growth.

Seventeen months and one pandemic later, Macy’s has closed over 45 stores (with the goal of closing 125 by the end of 2023), has upgraded approximately 100 other stores, has expanded its off-price offerings through the Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s brands, and has opened new small-format stores.

The retailer has also improved its digital capabilities, giving consumers better search functions, and has redesigned product pages, which Gennette said has increased online conversion by 9 percent.

Through Polaris, Macy’s also hopes that four of its established in-house brands — International Concepts, Alfani, Style & Co. and Charter Club — can each grow to be worth $1 billion. The retailer wants private brands to make up 25 percent of its sales by 2025.

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