Macy's pushes into activewear

Macy's pushes into activewear to attract the 13 to 30 age group

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Macy's is making another big push to attract the millennials.

The department store chain is dramatically expanding its activewear offerings by adding bigger assortments of such brands as Nike, North Face, Under Armour and CK Performance that it believes will attract the 13 to 30 age group.

It will also start selling a Norwegian activewear brand with an emphasis on skiing and sailing called Helly Hansen.

The new fashions, which will be rolled out to its stores in the next few weeks, have a dual function: they attract yoga enthusiasts and rock climbers, but the designs are trendy enough that they can be worn afterward on the street or to a restaurant.

Martine Reardon, Macy's chief marketing officer, hopes to grab young shoppers who are now buying activewear at specialty stores such as Lululemon Athletica and upscale department stores such as Nordstrom.

Macy's made a pact with Finish Line last year to open branded athletic shoe shops in about half of its 800 stores in the U.S. by the fall of 2014.

Last month, Macy's announced a partnership with LIDS Sports Group, a subsidiary of Genesco Inc., to open shops called Locker Room by Lids. Plans call for Locker Room by Lids departments to be piloted in approximately 25 Macy's stores and on this fall and an additional 175 departments rolling out next spring.

"We want to expand the footprint on activewear," Reardon told The Associated Press in a recent interview. "There is such a synergy between the high fashion-trend customer and an active lifestyle."

The moves mark the second phase of Macy's intensive campaign to focus on the 13-to-30 age group. Last fall and earlier this spring, the department store chain, based in Cincinnati, launched more than a dozen new brands and expanded 10 other labels it believes resonate with the age group. The collections include an exclusive Marilyn Monroe collection that offers figure-flattering silhouettes and a Truth or Dare shoe collection, a collaboration with Madonna.

Macy's restructured its merchandising team to focus on the millennials and aims to make changes in the next three years to further get them into the store. As part of that strategy, Macy's has two departments that cater to this group: mstylelab, which caters to the 13-to-22 age group, and Impulse, geared toward shoppers age 19 to 30.

While some marketers define millennials as being between 16 and 34,their behavioral traits are the same: they grew up using the Internet and cell phones — and they place a premium on speed and convenience. Like many retailers, Macy's is paying more attention to this group, who are entering heavy earnings and spending years. As part of the strategy, Macy's is rolling out online kiosks in the activewear department to allow shoppers to buy their brands online. It plans to announce more technology initiatives.

Reardon said that Macy's activewear in men's has been strong, but in women's, Macy's had limited offerings. Among the activewear brands that will be getting a big push at Macy's is CK Performance. That brand will be in the women's activewear areas in about 385 stores this fall, up from 85 stores last year.

Macy's is also expanding its store label activewear brand for women called Ideology, launched in spring 2012. It now will be in 400 stores, up from 160 last year. The price range is $20 to $68.

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