Jane Fort and Linda Korman of Seventeen Prom and Teen Prom magazines offered an inside look at the 2011 prom market, from understanding your customers to the best ways to reach them to the styles they’ll be looking for next season.
To understand teen-age girls, a retailer must understand her influences. She’s all about celebrities, movies, TV and music – and she’s completely tech savvy and plugged in. Watch the shows and movies she does to get a feel for the celebrities she wants to emulate. Know about the Twilight saga and the stars of Glee and Gossip Girl. Know what Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez wore to the latest award ceremony. You can bet your customers do. Read the magazines she does; she’ll use the celebrity photos and editorial tips as her personal “stylist.” Try to play the music she listens to in your store. It’s all part of creating an inviting atmosphere.
She loves to shop and will start looking for a prom dress three months ahead of the event. She’ll also visit an average of three stores and try on more than 20 dresses – give her as many reasons as possible to choose your store for the purchase. At least 17 percent will post a photo online of their dress but not until after the big night – however, it’s a good bet she’d be thrilled to see herself on your site the day after as well and would then forward your link to family and friends.
Teens are completely locked into internet shopping and research as well as social networking. Make sure your store isn’t left out of the loop. It’s how they communicate.
While teens are cutting back on extras such as limos, tanning and professional photography, girls don’t seem willing to skimp on the dress. Most teen girls – 75 percent – says they receive at least as much money from their parents as they did before the economic downturn, and 42 percent don’t believe they’ve been personally affected by the economy. More than 90 percent of prom-goers say they’ll buy a new dress; 6 percent say they’ll buy two dresses.
For 2011, look for three-dimensional embelishments, mixed & unique fabrics and draping as well as liquid metals. Ladylike styles, soft focus prints, animal prints, revamped pinks and yellow will be popular, and remember that red looks good on almost any girl. Hi-low hems continue to be a popular option to show off great shoes. Looks that have been around but aren’t going away: short, one-shouldered, ball gowns, glitz and interesting backs.