Aeropostale has been floundering.
Sales have been down quarter after quarter. For the most recent quarter, comparable sales were down 6.7% compared to this time last year. Net sales were down 16.1%.
Aeropostale had a bad year as it stands. Comparable sales for all of fiscal 2015 were down 8.6%, and net sales for all of fiscal 2015 were down 18%. One reason for the company’s downfall, according to Conlumino analyst Håkon Helgesen, is that it is “remains that it is firmly out of favour with the fickle younger consumer.”
But the company has been trying to boost its appeal to young people. The retailer secured popular 20-year-old YouTube personality Bethany Mota for her own collections in 2014. At the time, CNBC pointed out “her new line [was] critical because Mota has been successful precisely where Aeropostale has fallen short: drawing a large and growing audience that appreciates her fashion advice.”
On the surface, it all seemed promising. She curated a blog with a Pinterest-friendly aesthetic, and Teen Vogue — a destination for stylish teens — has even promoted the some of Mota’s collaborative efforts in the past.
Mota is illustrative of the modern-day millennial mogul. Mota, who initially rose to stardom thanks to her strangely compelling “haul” videos, has roughly 5.5 million Instagram followers and nearly 10 million YouTube followers. Her more personal YouTube channel, “Bethany’s Life,” has over 2 million followers. She appeared on “Dancing With The Stars” in 2014 and has even dabbled in music.
Mota hasn’t fallen off of teen’s radars; this past summer, she took home a Teen Choice Award. Teens appear to love her authenticity.
She’s obviously managed to capture social-media obsessed teens. So why can’t she capture Aeropostale’s customers?
It might just come down to Aeropostale’s apparel.
“Indeed, it has now become a brand that gets overlooked on many shopping trips simply because its range does not resonate and has little relevance. While consumer tastes have shifted, Aero has steadfastly clung to a range that looks more at home in the mid 2000s than 2016, and a store environment that all too often resembles a yard sale,” Helgesen wrote in a note to clients.
Piper Jaffray surveyed teens this past fall find out where they are — and aren’t — shopping in its semiannual Taking Stock with Teens survey.
The brand ranked at the top for brands that upper-income females no longer wear. Between 22% and 32% of teens surveyed over the past two years say they no longer shop there.
According to Piper Jaffray’s survey, upper-income teens prefer Nike, followed by Forever 21. In third place is American Eagle.
But teens constitute a demographic that’s becoming increasingly difficult to persuade to get to shop for apparel as it is. They’d prefer to spend money on technology, like iPhones, or experiences, as Jason Dorsey has told Business Insider. Aeropostale needs to convince teens to shop there.
Aeropostale needs Bethany Mota more than ever. Shares have been sliding, and The Wall Street Journal reported that Aeropostale is looking into the possibility of selling the company or restructuring it. The Journal highlighted how Aeropostale will be undergoing a “strategic review.”
Worse, Aeropostale is sitting in a terrible light, since its competitors (including the maligned Abercrombie & Fitch) are faring better than it is.
“As we have said before, Aeropostale is the weakest of the ‘three A’s,” Helgesen wrote, comparing it to the solidly performing American Eagle and the slowly-but-surely turning around aforementioned Abercrombie & Fitch. “Being the weakest player in a weak market is a very uncomfortable position and it is one that could yet lead to the eventual failure of the chain. The latest results do nothing to change this view: the jury is still out on whether Aero has a place in the market over the longer term.”
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