Managing Millennials: Insights on the Footwear Industry’s Top Shopper

Millennials dominated the conversation at the Two Ten HR Leadership Summit at Foot Locker Inc.’s headquarters last week in New York.

Panelists from Ralph Lauren Corp., Calvin Klein Inc., NPD Group Inc., Foot Locker and other firms exchanged insights on key strategies for serving the generation of 18- to 34-year-olds as both consumers and employees.

Read on for three key takeaways.

1. Most companies are inadequately equipped to motivate and manage the millennial workforce. As employees, millennials expect more clarity than their veteran counterparts regarding employer expectations, career trajectory and their overall performance. Management consultant Laurie Coots said strategies include getting rid of rigid company policies, offering real-time feedback instead of performance reviews and playing to employees’ strengths.

2. The industry’s growth is driven by e-commerce, which is fueled by millennials. The online fashion-footwear business grew
 9 percent over the past year (the 12 months ending in April 2015), accounting for 100 percent of
the industry’s total growth and offsetting brick-and-mortar sales declines, according to Beth Goldstein, executive director and industry analyst for fashion footwear and accessories at NPD Group.

3. Millennials generated about one-third of U.S. fashion footwear sales over the past year (12 months ending April 2015) but represented about 60 percent of the growth. NPD data shows that millennials are pumping their bucks into brands such as Michael Kors, Skechers, Brand Jordan, Timberland, Converse and Ralph Lauren.

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