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Streetwear Brands Are Targeting Millennials Better Than You

Streetwear Brands Are Targeting Millennials Better Than You

5 Minute Read

  • Brands outside the apparel category can learn how to better target millennials during a product launch by looking at key learnings from streetwear brands.

  • Brands should consider investing more in soft launches as a key part of their pre-promotion tactic as the content produced by influencers is earned media for the brand and product, and ultimately the subsequent product launch.  

  • Brands looking to connect meaningfully with a larger audience need to avoid being overly exclusive as part of a long-term strategy - find out what brand is doing a great job at being inclusive from the get-go and the benefits it provides.

  • MKTG takes a deeper look at the importance of “The Drop” and how brands are exiting traditional marketing events in order to execute this tactic more!

When it comes to product launches targeting millennials, no one does it better than streetwear brands. These brands know exactly what buttons to push with this audience to tap into their passion, leverage their desire to share, and ultimately create real value for them—and the effective techniques and lessons learned in this microcosm can be adopted by other industries looking to crack the code.

Millennials are deservingly recognized as the most disruptive force in the retail industry today. They love to shop, and are estimated to spend $200 billion by the end of 2018.* Beyond purchasing commodities, millennials seek experiences tied to their purchase—allowing them to share it online, and reap the social currency (essentially an “added value”) that comes with showing your friends the unique, exclusive experience you’ve just had. Activities around product launches are an extremely important consideration for a brand’s strategy when targeting this demographic; with brand experiences and engagement among the strongest drivers of customer loyalty.

The power and passion of millennials in the retail market pushes streetwear brands to create memorable experiences for their consumer. This provides a playground for streetwear brands to be creative when launching product, providing a wealth and variety of key learnings for brands outside this category.

See below for some of MKTG’s key learnings from some best-in-class recent product launches:


Streetwear brands are known to invest heavily in pre-launch events—also known as the soft launch. Soft launches (unlike public launches) allow a brand to have control over which consumers and influencers will be able to best create content on their social feeds and excite followers. Soft launches exemplify the power of word-of-mouth in the modern landscape. Word-of-mouth advocacy and referrals are extremely important to millennials—with as much as 73% of the demographic looking at influencer opinions and experiences before purchasing.*

Case Study: Reebok Aztrek Pre-Launch Influencer Event

Nostalgic fashion, especially from the 90s, is a trend we see many streetwear brands leverage when designing collections. One of those brands, Reebok, dropped the Aztrek shoe this year—a 90s retro runner. Reebok invited micro-influencers to an exclusive soft launch event prior to the actual Aztrek Pop-Up store in downtown Toronto. The event provided the opportunity for visually striking and engaging content to be created, from 90’s themed photo-ops to live DJ’s and musical performances. The content attendees captured was permitted to be posted on social media, which started social chatter with their following and allowed Reebok to generate strong localized awareness before the pop up launched.


Brands can use soft launches as a key part of their pre-promotion tactic. The content produced by influencers is earned media for the brand and product, and ultimately the subsequent product launch.  


While a private soft launch with select micro-influencers can give the brand a lot of control and result in a highly curated activation, brands looking to connect meaningfully with a larger audience need to avoid being overly exclusive as part of a long-term strategy. They need to consider a strategy that involves a combination of exclusive (private) and inclusive (for the public) tactics.

Many streetwear brands, especially for shoe releases, use raffling or a first-come, first-serve model to spark interest with the entire public and level the playing field for entry, inviting every consumer to engage with the brand. In many cases, regardless of whether a consumer scores an invite or not, they will continue to engage with the brand (following up with the contest, checking the brand’s social media for updates, exploring how the product is being used/styled etc.)


Case Study: The adidas CONFIRMED app promotes a level-playing field for consumers

The adidas CONFIRMED app (available in Canada since 2017) allows consumers to sign in with their adidas account and input their shoe size. The consumer then receives push notifications to reserve their spot to attend a product launch. Anyone can download the app which is based on a first-come, first-serve policy – if you are part of the first ones to reserve a spot, you will receive a CONFIRMED notification which you then bring to the event.

By considering tactics like this, brands can be top of mind before, during and after the product launch (in this case, through push notifications) and help the consumer “take less L’s” (“ losses” in streetwear culture—a common experience as product launch invites are extremely hard to obtain). The brand ultimately shows their care and respect for consumers which is recognized and appreciated.


The “drop” capitalizes on the hype and experience around the product release (experiences can include a uniquely designed gallery, teasing product across social channels or a pop-up within an existing retail store) and the one-chance-to-buy mentality.

Some of the most famous drops include Supreme x Louis Vuitton Pop-Up in London and the limited edition Bape x Anti-Social Social Club in New York —collections which attract a mass amount of people at retail locations and sell out almost instantly, proving that direct-to-consumer tactics such as “drops” are successful. We also see high-end streetwear brands such as Public School, exiting traditional marketing events such as New York Fashion Week and investing in more “everyday” consumer facing strategies where “the drop” can be executed more frequently.

Brands outside the streetwear category can use “the drop” as a model to produce more limited-edition items and create more direct-to-consumer opportunities. This allows brands to better connect with a target demo by executing hyper-localized tactics (ex. Launching product in specific townships within a city) and create more memorable experiences around purchases such as pop-ups and partnership activations with other brands (ex. Since their Fashion Week exit, Public School has collaborated with SoulCycle in the past and launched events at NYC SoulCycle locations).

Public School x SoulCycle | Source: Vogue

Public School x SoulCycle | Source: Vogue

A final thought from MKTG…


Many streetwear launch events are simple in design with majority of the hype and marketing building directly and authentically off the brand strategy. When launching a product, it can be tempting to resort to flashy tactics or to include trending tech such as VR or AR.  Does your audience engage and respond well to this technology? Does it authentically cascade from your brand strategy? Brands should strive for simplicity rather than complex experiences that will leave consumers confused and disengaged. A “tried and true” product launch that is on strategy will always win over off-strategy innovation.


Drops, consumer inclusivity and soft launches are all effective tactics when executing a product launch. However, brands need to be selective in which tactics to implement that will ultimately achieve their objectives.

*Source: Marketing Magazine

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