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Teenage factor driving retail reforms

05-July-2004
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Teenage factor driving retail reforms

The arrival of teenagers and credit-card holders on the retailscape is influencing retailers like Ebony to think afresh on their footfall strategy. Whether it’s managing the inventory through the scorchy summer to the pouring monsoon season or building co-alliances to entice the target group, the Teenage Factor is increasingly determining the pace of in-house retail reforms.

Says Ebony COO Rakesh Malhotra: ‘‘There is a spurt in the teenage category buying (girls and boys aged between 14 and 20 years) over the last 12 months, which has jumped from 12 per cent to 20 per cent of our buyer base. Two trends are clearly visible: it’s call of the malls and the teenaged youth are driving retail sales as well as proving to be major decision-influencers at home.’’

The share of women (aged above 20 years), who have traditionally been major buyers at Ebony, now constitute 48 per cent and men 32 per cent.

‘‘Some of our recent focus group and wallet studies of the youth point to enormous changes in values and preferences, and also a sharp increase in disposable income,’’ Mr Malhotra said and added that shopping (35 per cent) competes with eating out (30 per cent) in a teenager’s disposable share. ‘‘Movies account for five per cent while mobile bills 15 per cent of the youth’s wallet.’’Ebony’s observations:

* Buyers have become time-editors and look for convenience under one roof

* Promotional offer has to be sizeable

* Tie-up with a specialist for category offer (like Planet M for music cassettes)

* Co-promotion partners share only 5 per cent of Ebony’s marketing expenditure

Considering that credit card user base grew 25 per cent and now accounts for 40 per cent of the buyer base, Ebony has intensified its two-week old co-branded credit card biz (with ICICI) and hopes to target 15,000 subscribers by March 2005. The retailer has also a CRM programme under Ebony Elite card with 40,000 members.

Meanwhile, Mr Malhotra will quit Ebony shortly and join as CEO of a Europe-based apparel retailer. Ebony is within striking distance of a targeted Rs 100-crore revenue in 2004-05 from eight stores.

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