How the Design Biz Is Courting Millennials

From left: Small Bowls, $44 for 4,; Bath Towel, from $58,; The Dutchess, $145,; Jonathan Adler Terrazzo Hourglass Vase by Now House, $38,

F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal

It’s a truism that millennials are more comfortable with technology and shopping from home than older generations, and direct-to-consumer design brands are capitalizing on this ease via e-commerce. Here, four of the canny methods they’re using to cater to this powerful market.

Color coding

Kitchen company Great Jones launched Nov. 8 with four stainless-steel pieces and a Dutch oven, named the Dutchess, in five strategic hues. Co-founder Sierra Tishgart noted that the generation born between 1981 and ’97 responds strongly to color, especially—you guessed it—pink, which the company calls macaron. (The green shown above goes by “broccoli.”) Tableware brand Year & Day also offers a shade of blush as one of four signature glazes. They call it Daybreak.

Personal touch

The concept of choose-your-own-aesthetic-adventure figures highly in e-commerce that targets youth. Startup Weezie lets buyers design their own white towels, from bath sheets to washcloths, with five piping and seven embroidery colors. “We’ve seen some really fun embroidery, like ‘Ciao’ as a thank you gift for an Italian vacation,” said Weezie co-founder Liz Eichholz. Other firms’ limited, cohesive color palettes make it possible to mix-and-match without risk. Great Jones shoppers can customize their sets by selecting one of five colors for the Dutchess, but every option coordinates with the stainless-steel pots which also have bronze handles.

Painless pricing

In October, Jonathan Adler debuted Now House by Jonathan Adler, Amazon’s first collaboration with a home designer, at a fraction of the brand’s typical prices. Now House’s Terrazzo Hourglass Vase costs $38; a comparable vase from Adler’s namesake collection, $295. “I wanted to create a new look with fresh colors, clean lines and, perhaps most important, very attractive prices,” said Mr. Adler. “You’re welcome!” Similarly, the cost of a single outdoor love seat at Pottery Barn would fetch you an entire outdoor set (love seat, two chairs and cocktail table) on e-commerce site Yardbird.

Social savvy

Millennials love to tout their wares on Instagram. That’s partly why Year & Day founder and CEO Kathryn Duryea picked a semi-matte glaze for the collection: It photographs better. “Some of our well-known brand advocates, like Mandy Moore and Jenna Bush, have shared their Year & Day on Instagram, which has been a top driver of brand awareness for us,” she added.

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