Teens want 3 things from stores today -- and it's becoming a nightmare for Macy's and Nordstrom

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Retail as we know it is dying.

Aeropostale filed for bankruptcy. Iconic core American stores like Macy's and Nordstrom are struggling with plummeting sales. And that's just the short list.

Stores that cater to teens are specifically hurting, largely because teenaged Generation Z is both discerning and particular.

Teens today are conditioned to the rapid-fire nature of social media and want things quickly. They're not obsessed with logos like teens were in the early aughts.

So how does a teen retailer survive in this day and age?

Neil Saunders, CEO of consulting firm Conlumino, told Business Insider that teen retailers need three things to stay afloat:

  • "Constant newness to engage and stimulate is one of [the ways to engage teens]," Saunders wrote in an email to Business Insider. That's true — teens have been living in a world of fast fashion behemoths like H&M, Forever 21, and Zara. All three of those companies churn out runway-style apparel at rapid-fire speed.
  • "A good digital strategy in terms of marketing and shopping is another," he added. Make no mistake: teens live by the rule of the Internet, and that's particularly true when it comes to marketing. In fact, apps like Instagram have been helping to slowly but surely kill traditional retail. As for online shopping, a recent Ernst & Young study confirmed that even though millennials currently shop online more than Gen Z does (they don't have credit cards — the number of Gen Z-ers shopping online will increase when they d0), Gen Z-ers shop online for "efficiency purposes."
  • "Value for money is definitely a third: teens have so many things they want to buy so what they have to spend on particular items is often constrained," Saunders wrote. Teens care more about value than millennials ever did. "The things you see millennials doing when it comes to spending, Gen Z are just taking it to another level," Gen Z expert Marcie Merriman said to Business Insider in February. "Millennials have been in the position of being frugal and very careful with their money."

The catch? It's hard to do those three things at the same time.

Saunders acknowledged that.

"Of course, the problem is that these three things are difficult to balance while remaining profitable," Saunders wrote.

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