Insight Reports

The uncomfortable truth — shopping for children can be an emotional rollercoaster ride

  • April 26, 2022

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While shopping with children can be a positive experience for parents, the process can also be a nightmare resulting in frustration, stress and exhaustion, according to exclusive research by GetWizer. 

Bodies come in all shapes and sizes. However, many agree that the current clothing size system is outdated and unkind. While this is frustrating for adults, the sizing system used for kids’ clothing can cause even deeper hurt, frustration and negativity for both parents and their children. 

Children do not grow in a uniform way. Line up a soccer team of 12-year-olds and you will encounter a vast array of heights, sizes, lengths of legs and arms, and body types. Add to this the wide range of variation among individual clothing brands when it comes to sizing and the problems and stress multiply. 

Emotional turmoil 

Shopping for clothes with parents is a rite of passage for every child as they near and enter their teenage years. This is especially so because the influence children have on their clothing choice, in terms of style and color, evolves as they develop along the road to becoming consumers in their own right. 

This journey however can be filled with emotional turmoil for many kids who do not fit what brands and retailers consider ‘standard’ sizes. This means that clothing for their age group may not fit well, be too tight in some places and loose in others, with sleeves and leg-sizing too long or too short. So, when a child sets their heart on a specific item of clothing, they may eventually be told by their parents that they will have to choose something else because they cannot find the right fit. 

Such experiences can lead to shopping meltdowns during a delicate time in the physical and emotional development of children. Ultimately, parents and their kids feel letdown by brands and sizing standards, and feel bad about themselves because there are so few options available.

Bad experiences damage brands and retailers

Children’s clothing is based on age. This means it is forced to make huge assumptions about what a ‘standard’ size is for a specific age group, even though none realistically exists. Current sizing for children assumes a straight growth curve. So, a ten-year-old is this size and a twelve-year-old is that size — but as any parent will tell you, this simply does not fit with reality. Children grow in different ways, at different ages. This means children with different body types compared to the ‘norm’ for their age will suffer the most when trying to find clothes that fit. 

This is not only frustrating and problematic for children and parents, but also for clothing brands and retailers. Diversity and inclusiveness, especially in terms of body shape and sizes, are highly important considerations for Gen Alpha, Gen Z and their parents. So, bad shopping experiences that display a lack of inclusivity from a brand or retailer can potentially turn off a generation for life. 

The probability of such bad experiences are reasonably high given the fact that only half of the parents surveyed by GetWizer believe their kid’s size is ‘Regular’. 

The result is that 47% of parents encounter negative emotions, such as frustration, stress and exhaustion, from the process when shopping with their children, according to GetWizer research.

This statistic should sound alarm bells for brands looking to connect with Gen Alpha and Gen Z as their spending power increases. They should  be focusing on building positive brand experiences, and to achieve this, will need to re-imagine what they consider the body beautiful. Increasingly in today’s market,  all body shapes and sizes are portrayed as beautiful, and brands that alienate those outside of the considered ‘norm’ risk losing access to the biggest and wealthiest generation the world has seen

To gain insights on How brands and retailers must adapt to attract Gen Alpha and Gen Z watch GreenBook’s webinar with Meghan Roach, President & CEO at Roots and Jennifer Allison, Head of Global Sales at GetWizerto take a deep dive into compelling new GetWizer research. Click here

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