How to Market and Sell Footwear to Millennial Parents and Their Kids

Looking to better engage parents of younger children who are shopping for footwear? To boost conversions with this consumer cohort, the key is offering size integrity, quality, comfort and the right price points.

This was the key takeaway of FN’s recent webinar, “Get Schooled: How to Cater to Millennial Parents and Their Kids,” which featured Molly Hartney, chief marketing officer of Rack Room Shoes; Brian Burnett, vice president and general merchandise manager of Rack Room Shoes, and Chelsey Codrington, senior director of client strategy at digital marketing firm Tinuiti. The digital event was moderated by Jennie Bell, deputy managing editor of FN, while Rack Room Shoes was the sponsor.

The speakers also shared insights about how inflation and the supply chain are impacting business, especially for the upcoming back-to-school shopping season — a critical time for footwear brands and merchants.

Regarding engaging millennial parents, Hartney said today’s parents and their kids are “more digitally savvy so they are able to view things online and on social channels; and they have a wealth of information at their fingertips —  information about different products, brands, and trends.”

She added, “So what we have to do as retailers is make sure that we adhere to the fact that we want to make sure we are convenient for them, that we value their time, and we provide them with what they are looking for as far as quality, price and comfort — as well as just overall convenience.”

FN webinar
Clockwise from top left: Chelsey Codrington, Jennie Bell, Molly Hartney and Brian Burnett.

Burnett said whether the kids are in elementary or middle school, “mom still controls the buying power.” He said, as a result, the purchasing decision boils down to size integrity, in-stock inventory and the brand she wants. Still, Burnett said kids are using devices more, including smartphones and tablets, “and have a lot more knowledge and information. So the influence that the kids are having is greater and they are choosing what fits their personality.”

Burnett also noted that size integrity is also coupled with offering trusted brands. “We want to make sure we have those trusted brands, and they are at fair value, which doesn’t necessarily mean the lowest price; it’s more about perceived value and product offering.”

Hartney said from a marketing perspective, companies have to be cognizant of generational differences, making sure you’re engaging the right consumer with the right message. Marketing campaigns also need to be timely and localized.

Codrington said, from a broader perspective, it is important to look at consumer spending trends and what’s impacting household spending — such as inflation. “It’s no secret prices have increased 7.5% in the last 12 months and there’s just not as much discretionary spending for families today,” she said. “They don’t have that disposable income like they used to. But the good news is that our buyers aren’t slowing down from shopping. What they’re doing is switching their purchases to brands or stores that have lower prices.”

Codrington reiterated the importance of messaging and reaching the right audience with the right message and meeting the decision-maker where they are, which could be on social media platforms such as Facebook or even TikTok.

In regard to supply chain issues, Burnett said things are still in a state of flux and somewhat confusing. Communication is critical, he said, adding that inventory positions must be solid to ensure the needs of the footwear shopper are met.

With inflation, the Rack Room team added, it’s essential to know how shoppers are shifting their spending, which may mean stocking slightly lower-price-point footwear but still offering convenience, size integrity and comfort. The speakers said it is a matter of striking the right balance between all the purchasing-decision variables.

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