NEW YORK -- Macy's is firing its first salvo at the millennials.
The venerable department store chain is launching 13 new brands and expanding 10 other existing labels that it believes will resonate with shoppers in that 13-to-30 age group.
The roster includes an exclusive Marilyn Monroe fashion collection and a men's T-shirt line from an upstart called Fatal Clothing, which specializes in tattoo-influenced designs. The chain also will be offering a collection of runway-inspired fashions that will change monthly.
The new fashion offerings, which are being rolled out this fall and next spring, represent the first phase of the retailer's intensive campaign to attract the highly sought-after group.
The millennials generation is the first to grow up with cellphones and the Internet and its members are accustomed to getting fast access to anything they want.
In March, Macy's restructured its merchandise team to focus on those shoppers and plans to make other major changes in the next three years to further rope them in. Those range from infusing tablets and other technology into the shopping experience to changing displays more frequently.
The intense focus comes as Macy's and other retailers are paying more attention to members of the generation who are entering their peak earnings and spending years.
The Boston Consulting Group defines millennials as being between ages 16 to 34, and says that in the U.S. they numbered about 79 million last year. By 2030, they are expected to far outnumber baby boomers, 78 million to 56 million.
And they're a challenging bunch. The tech-savvy group likes to spend and it likes brands, but shops differently.
Boston Consulting Group released a study earlier this year based on a survey of about 4,000 millennials. The research showed millennials trust their Facebook friends more than corporate ads or experts, and tend to favor spending at specialty stores, discount stores, online or outlet stores. And they put a premium on speed and convenience.
Christine Barton, a partner at the Boston Consulting Group, says the department stores have a big opportunity to grab this customer, but they need to "refreshen their franchise." Millennial females spend one third more on clothing than those in the 35 to 74 age range _ regardless of income or race. Male millennials spend twice as much on clothing per year than men in previous generations.
The average millennial "shops everywhere, and she has access to everything," said Molly Langenstein, executive vice president and general merchandise manager for millennials and new business development at Macy's. "That is the challenge for everyone going after the millennials."
Last year, Langenstein's group began interviewing thousands of shoppers in the 13-to-30 age group to better understand their needs.
"We're getting in front of them," she said.
Macy's has two departments that serve millennials: mstylelab, which caters to the 13-to-22 age group, and Impulse, which is geared toward shoppers from age 19 to 30. Langenstein noted that focusing on brands is important for this generation. Macy's, which has corporate offices in both Cincinnati and New York, also operates upscale Bloomingdale's but is focusing on millennials with its namesake stores.
The Marilyn Monroe collection will be housed in the mstylelab department. Langenstein says the icon's name, which has more than 4.2 million Facebook fans, resonated with young shoppers questioned in its surveys. The collection, which will be priced from $29 to $89, will offer figure-flattering silhouettes, she says.
Also, next spring, Macy's is launching an exclusive clothing collection under sneaker brand Ked's. For fall, Macy's launched the Truth or Dare shoe collection, a collaboration with Madonna. The line features over-the-knee black boots and studded spiked-heel pumps.
For its Impulse department, Macy's has teamed up with MADE Fashion Week, a partnership with Milk Studios that has a venue for the fashion's up and comers every runway season. Starting for spring, each collection will feature about 20 to 30 runway-inspired pieces and will be priced at about $65.
Among the brands Macy's is expanding is Material Girl, a collection inspire by Madonna and her daughter Lola that launched during the fall of 2010. For spring, Material Girl will expand beyond clothing and offer jewelry, handbags and accessories.