Skip to main content

With its quick turnaround on accessories trends, digital savviness and robust portfolio of retail partnerships, Claire’s has been able to resonate with young people throughout its more than 60 years in business.

That resonance is something Claire’s has homed in on since its 2018 bankruptcy, which allowed the retailer to close many mall-based locations and pivot toward opening stand-alone locations across the country and embarking on wholesale partnerships with companies like Walmart, CVS, DSW, Macy’s, Kohl’s and others. Claire’s also filed for an IPO in 2021, but later withdrew the application last June.

Today, the retailer has doubled down on targeting young consumers — now Generation Alpha — by amplifying its digital presence and spotlighting its position in the piercing market. 

“We’ve been on a journey at Claire’s for the last several years,” said Kristin Patrick, Claire’s executive vice president, chief marketing officer and head of e-commerce. “It all started with the consumer and us getting really clear on the consumers’ wants and needs. That meant a complete revamp of the brand — really rethinking and showing up how and when they want to shop.” 

The retailer’s latest initiative centers on the piercing market. It is hosting several month-long activations to celebrate National Piercing Day, which is Thursday. 

Claire’s has dubbed its celebration “Piercing Fest,” and is offering a year’s worth of free earrings to members of its C Club loyalty program who purchase a piercing starter kit, promoting piercing-related spotlights of jewelry brands and creating activations surrounding the retailer’s EarPrint program and several deals and discounts. 

“This is a 60-year-old brand with a lot of love,” Patrick said. “It’s got 95 percent brand awareness around the globe and it has a global footprint. Anytime you talk to somebody about Claire’s, they got a first piercing there or they know somebody who got a first piercing there, and they stay with us through generations. Rather than staying stuck in the past, we’ve had to really evolve with our consumer because over time, we have been the brand that is always with the growing generation, so by that I mean Millennials shopped us, Gen X shopped us, now we’ve got the Z’s and the Generation Alphas.” 

An assortment of Claire's jewelry

An assortment of Claire’s jewelry. Courtesy of Claire’s

When asked about how Claire’s has been able to maintain its resonance from generation to generation, Patrick credited the retailer’s ability to have its footing both in the past and the future. 

“All brands walk a fine line between giving a nod to the past and ensuring that they’re staying fresh,” she said. “In our case, in many of the business categories that we compete in, it’s about being bleeding edge and up on the trends. There’s a fine balance always honoring the history [of the retailer], but really making sure that you are moving forward from a tech perspective and from a digital perspective — giving the consumer new ways to engage with the brand and really moving and growing as the generation grows.” 

In addition to the retailer’s activations for National Piercing Day, Claire’s is continuing to grow its retail footprint beyond its own brick-and-mortar stores. In March, the brand embarked on its latest wholesale partnership with Walgreens, entering more than 4,400 of the retailer’s doors. 

“The goal with every single one of these initiatives is really about getting in touch with the consumer, understanding their needs, where are they shopping, when do they want to buy and how are they shopping,” Patrick said. “It’s really being there for them in their lives. The store experience is really a key part of the Claire’s brand experience. For many years, we’ve had this notion of the treasure hunt and allowing somebody to come into the store and really express themselves.” 

Going forward, the brand plans to continue growing its retail footprint and capitalizing on youth-driven accessories trends to sustain its appeal among younger generations.