Just call it the little chain with unusually large marketing clout. By carefully developing its relationship with millions of tween girls, apparel retailer Limited Too has managed to attract co-branding opportunities that give the company access to global brands without paying a licensing fee.
Through subscriptions to its catazine (which has a circ base of 4.5 million) and in-store and on-line promotions, Limited Too has amassed a database of 15 million girls. That kind of access and increased brand cache has proven appealing to global companies like Lego, Disney and Mattel, which have all signed licensing and cross-promotional deals with the chain. Right now, Limited Too is promoting a line of clothing based on Mattel’s My Scene Barbie with an in-store sweepstakes ending in August to go see the Legally Blonde 2 – Red, White & Blonde premiere in Australia.
‘It’s peanuts compared to what they would normally spend, and it opens new channels for our own brand,’ says Robert Atkinson, a spokesperson for Limited Too. ‘We can tag on to Mattel’s ads, and that gets our name out there without costing millions of dollars.’
But brands will only get you so far, and tween girls are rapidly catching up to their older sisters when it comes to being on the cutting edge of fashion. No more are they willing to wait six months for styles to trickle down to their sizes, says Lece Lohr, Limited Too’s senior VP and general merchandising manager for casual and active. ‘We do all of our designing in-house so we can get on the trends right away,’ says Lohr. This fall, girls will be looking for a combination of hard edge and femininity, along with street-style threads inspired by the retro trend that’s still going strong.
Limited Too currently operates 518 stores in the U.S., having closed its fledgling Mishmash chain of teen-targeted stores in May. A new and separately branded chain of tween stores will roll out by early next year. The yet-to-be-named chain will focus on selling sportswear at lower price points.