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A month ago, MNB reported on CB2, a spinoff from Crate & Barrel “where the definition of home for the next generation of consumers is being refined.” The theme of that report was that successful retailers were developing new formats to appeal to younger shoppers, “geared to price-and-design conscious customers in their twenties and thirties” who are the children of the baby boomers upon which they have built their traditional businesses.

The latest evidence that this trend is growing: PBTeen, a new concept for teenagers being launched by retailer Williams-Sonoma, which also owns Pottery Barn, Hold Everything, and Chambers. The first catalog, which will come out in late April, will feature lifestyle collections for teens, including furniture, rugs, lighting, bedding and accessories for what the company called bedroom, study and lounge areas.
KC's View:
We know we’re living in the wrong era when companies start creating furnishings for teenagers’ “lounge areas.”

But that bit of skepticism aside, we think this is an interesting idea, and it will be fascinating to see if the company eventually rolls it out into a brick and mortar format.

It seems very much in tune with the CB2 concept, if aimed at a slightly younger audience. The basic idea is the same -- create a related but distinct environment to appeal to younger demographics with different needs and desires.

We believe that food retailers need to give this idea greater consideration, developing stores or stores-within-stores to appeal to younger folks, and not make the assumption that food shopping won’t change all that much. That seems dreadfully misguided to us.

If the mainstream food retailing industry doesn’t develop a strategy for catering to these customers, then this particular demographic group will find other sources of food, whether it is restaurants that develop successful extensions of their businesses, or perhaps even c-stores that see this emerging customer base as a way to re-energize their businesses.

We repeat: Focusing on this group is both challenge and opportunity. But it can’t be ignored.