With the e-retail surpassing $4.2 Trillion and 53.9% of people are using mobile devices to make purchases, it’s no surprise that Gen Z is a driving force of these online shopping trends. More specifically, Gen Z is using social media to influence their online shopping habits. In a recent study, 66% of Gen Z use social media to research products, 47% of Gen Z use social media to purchase products and 22% of Gen Z use social media to contact customer service. One brand, in particular, has seen massive growth growing their Gen Z community digitally. Pacsun grossed over $700 million in sales last year with 85% of their customers falling under Gen Z. Out of that 85%, 60% of shoppers were BIPOC, 63% were females, 35% were males and 2% were non-binary.
It comes as no surprise as the brand has found creative ways to interact with its audience digitally and in person. Their most recent Pre-Fall 2021 campaign featured TikTok star, actress and singer Jules LeBlanc by highlighting top back-to-school styles and the season’s must-haves through a digital experience shot in Zion National Park in Utah. “For the past decade, Pacsun has partnered with some of the most relevant up and coming celebrities and next gen talent, including Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Kanye West, Virgil Abloh, Heron Preston, and recently Emma Chamberlain, Storm Reid, Guest Artistic Director A$AP Rocky, and now Jules LeBlanc. One of the key pillars of the Pacsun brand is creating a unique and relevant talent and a brand pipeline that drives innovation and resonates in a special way with Gen Z and celebrates youth culture,” shared Brie Olson, President of Pacsun. The creativity and authentic voice of Jules LeBlanc, and how she connects and co-creates with her 18M followers on TikTok, her following on YouTube, and her impressive acting career, at such a young age, is impressive. Her most recent “Get Your Jeans On” TikTok yielded 19.1 M views, nearly 4 times her average engagement, and is a nice testament to her relevance to our brand. We are pleased to be partnering with Jules across all activation points of our BTS brand campaign, including the livestream out of our DTLA store today, as a part of our broader brand campaign, in our TT activation, Spotify curated playlist, and much more.”
The theme of escapism and hitting the road will continue to be highlighted through the season by Pacsun’s community, including store teams and consumers, through in-store activations and installations and social media efforts. Pacsun has found 65% of Gen Z finds importance is spending their money on travel experiences for themselves. These young travelers are leaning on brands to connect with them via their social media. Pacsun plans to respond to this need and connect with them through Instagram and TikTok specifically, especially with travel being more restricted due to the pandemic. “After a trying year, our hope with this campaign is to bring a little light and promote a focus on wellbeing and reconnection,” said Olson. “We wanted to take our consumers on a journey and give them an escape as adventure travel is at the top of most Gen Z’ers to do list and we want to be with them on this journey.”
To add to the digital escapism turned IRL, Pacsun will curate a Neighborhood Guide Instagram series to allow consumers to share a more personal experience that involves a community connection. The Gen Z retailer wants to virtually share fun and safe things to do in unique locations with the launch of Pacsun’s “5 Things To Do In: blank.” content series. Pacsun will also inspire consumers to live and show their best life while in Pacsun Fall Denim, using the hashtag #Pacdenim and the launch of “Get Your blank On” social initiative, led by LeBlanc. In addition, the brand has planned for a Snapchat activation to accompany the adventure experience through Zion. This activation will allow consumers to engage virtually and shop. LeBlanc a Shopping Live experience on Pacsun.com, showcasing all new Pre-Fall offerings from Pacsun with the option for viewers to purchase directly from the video. There will be a shop up feature to buy. “I think it’s important for my audience to see fun and engaging ways to shop Pacsun because as retail gets more digital, it’s a fun way for me to connect with my supporters. It’s a great way to let them engage and shop the amazing outfits and styles I wear at Pacsun,” said LeBlanc. LeBlanc will also be partnering with Pacsun and Spotify to make music selections for a personalized playlist. The curated Spotify Playlist will feature her favorite back-to-school hits and nostalgic jams that followers can download directly from social media. The playlist will also be broadcasted in Pacsun retail locations nationwide for shoppers to enjoy.
“Pacsun is committed to community outreach and engagement as it is at the heart of our brand, and so important to Gen Z. Some of our community outreach initiatives this year include our partnership with Stem to the Future locally here in LA, our relationship with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation and the BE KIND PLEDGE, and our partnership with the Fashion Scholarship Fund 2021 Gender-Neutral Design Competition. In addition to these efforts this year, we have also launched as a part of our BTS campaign, a neighborhood guide, which highlights our customers, creators, and brand ambassadors “insider view” in terms of what they want to share that is special about their community and neighborhood, added Olson. “As a lifestyle brand, reaching our audience in authentic and relatable ways is critical to our brand vision. For example, in the Summer of 2021, we partnered with Emma Chamberlain on TikTok, YouTube and IG Reels to bring awareness to mental health with a PacTalks segment Emma curated with Pacsun on TT which garnered 82 Million views. It is also an example of how Pacsun is focused on using our social platforms for good.”
Founded in 1980, the retailer has always offered a cross section of emerging brands and trending fashion through the lens of youth culture. However, In the past 5 years, Pacsun has created a culture internally that is hyper focused on its customer through staying relevant. Co-CEO, Alfred Chang shared that it historically started with the products they design and the brands they collaborated with shifted more towards efforts to engage digitally with Gen Z. “Our leadership and teams move quickly, strive to be innovative and understand the importance of being authentic. Understanding of the digital world and the Gen Z consumer needs to be something natural to our teams. It is who we are at the heart of everything we do. It’s the only way to resonate with them, win with them and keep up digitally,” Chang shared. “Despite the unfortunate challenges the world has faced in the past year and a half, we got to see the true strength of our brand and what we mean to consumers. Our relevance as a lifestyle brand for Gen Z allowed us to take market share, outpacing the competition and driven by our digital business, which doubled in size this past year and is still seeing strong double-digit year-over-year sales growth. Outside of sales, teams were able to see incredible results across all of our digital touchpoints, with explosive growth in the Pacsun app, TikTok and customer file. Together with our stores, we saw total sales growth and profitability hit historic highs.
Pacsun isn’t slowing down on launching compelling partnerships and exclusive brand launches especially in digital. “From a total brand perspective, you will see the results of our continued investments during this past year in digital. This has allowed the brand to digitally connect with our customers in more ways and with better performance, bringing increased speed to e-commerce and app innovative campaigns in social media and more live stream events,” shared. Chang also shared, in addition to their products, the brand will continue to grow digitally and expand into unique gaming partnerships. The Pacsun brand, which is already a favorite for teens and young adults, is positioned to continue to scale digitally and globally in the coming years.