Horizons | Socates
like, what those mall girls do
just about the shopping when teens head to the malls, says marketing Professor
Walker Blanton '02
are most common. Known to travel in packs, adolescents can be spotted
eyeing the opposite sex and are regularly misunderstood by elders.
What is it
that separates the young of this species from others in the wild kingdom?
Maybe it's their ability to accessorize and spend.
girls kept U.S. cash registers ringing to the tune of $170 billion in
2002. And teen shoppers encouraged their parents to spend $200 billion
the retail industry as the largest, most free-spending teenage American
generation ever, this trend-savvy, often boy-crazy bunch has carved a
niche in the consumer culture. While most American shoppers would rather
browse stand-alone retail stores, retailers bank on teenage girls and
their entourage of parents and friends to keep the local mall in business.
no secret to moms of teenagers, understanding why adolescent girls flock
to malls -- as much as five hours on a weekend (and that's just the weekend)
-- has become big business for retailers who hope to keep these patrons
happy and the cash flowing.
the teenage mind emerge in research conducted by Julie Baker, associate
professor of marketing in the M. J. Neeley School of Business. Baker is
co-author with Diana L. Haytko at Southwest Missouri State of "It's All
at the Mall: Exploring Adolescent Girl's Experiences," recently published
in the Journal of Retailing. The research puts an academic spin on what
business owners need to know about the shopping habits of adolescent girls.
racial boundaries aside, the authors found numerous universal answers.
Safe, clean, easily accessible malls with lots of stores serve as an ideal
hangout. Girls enjoy the freedom of being able to meander, browsing at
any shop. One-day sales at a massive anchor store are not the draw; instead,
teenagers peruse specialty shops to assess the latest fashion trend, hunt
for that must-have collectible or stock up on flowery-smelling soaps and
lotions. An interesting tip for retailers, according to Baker: Girls not
only like to visit their friends who work at the mall, but they are also
more likely to spend in those stores.
age does play a role in determining just how much attention girls pay
to designer labels, their choice for a shopping companion makes the most
difference when it comes to turning browser to buyer.
who visited the mall with their parents tended to purchase more products
compared to those who visited the mall with their friends," Baker says.
And "young girls represent significant sales even if it is not obvious
on a given mall visit. That's because teenage girls often use mall excursions
with friends to scout for purchases that are later made with mom's credit
winners in all of this aren't the stores but the food court vendors. Baker's
research shows that every time adolescent girls enter a mall, they eat.
teenage girls great eateries often indicate a great mall. "They also choose
and evaluate malls on the number of choices available in the food court,"
retailers learn from Baker's research? That mall revenue is directly linked
to the nation's most social creatures. That a communal weekend experience
for America's teens represents huge profits for the nation's mall retailers.
Chelsea sums the teenage girl and her mall experience this way: "We just
look around, I guess. We just, like, it's social. We just socialize, you
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