Millennials: A New Generation of Shoppers

Getting into the consumer mindset has often challenged retailers, and this has proven to be of even greater difficulty with the rise of the millennial shopper, or those aged 16 to 34. By 2025, millennials are projected to make up 44 percent of the workforce and spend a combined $10 trillion in their lifetime, and will soon be majority spenders in the retail market.

Recently, I was fortunate to partner with the Soho Strut and Bloomingdales to speak to local retailers about millennial shopping habits and what that means for their future clientele. So, how do millennials shopping habits translate to retailers?

With millennials coving the age bracket of 16-34 the earning capacity is quite varied. With 44% of the workforce projected to fall in the millennial category in 2025 and spending a combined $10 trillion in their lifetime – this is a market that retailers need to capitalize on now. So how do you capture their attention and make your brand known to a millennial?

Millennials are price conscious
Surprising to no one, the major focus of a millennial shopper is price: Value, coupons and sales capture their attention. millennials are so focused on searching for deals that, often, discounts under 20 percent don’t entice them to buy. Additionally, this generation will travel to pay less at a different store, knowing exactly what they want, having done their research.

Today, it’s not enough to have the lowest price, it’s about what else a retailer can offer. Often, retailers that offer free shipping can make or break a sale, especially with the rise of international online stores with free shipping and returns. A great example of this is the dominance of Amazon and the fact that the number of Prime members now outnumber non-prime Amazon users.

Millennials look to social influencers
Surfing the web aside, millennials are hyper connected via social media, as well. The rise of social platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube has allowed Millennials to turn to these channels to see what is currently on trend from peers. This generation sees online influencers with similar interests, portraying the life philosophy that they want to live by, making their style all the more desirable. With a simple click, millennials are able to buy what they see on their favorite brand ambassador, making that lifestyle more attainable than ever.

Loyalty programs are a must
To millennials, loyalty programs are perceived as valuable.  They will walk further for that free item, or will change brands if it means getting a program reward. It’s not enough to just have the loyalty program, though; it must be easy to use. millennials need reminders that these programs exist, such as an alert that they have a coupon to use. In addition, millennials often participate in a number of loyalty programs so it’s imperative that brands have repeated touch points, giving the millennial audience more reasons to seek brand loyalty.

Millennials want attention and interaction from retailers. Sending customers a coupon on their birthday, leveraging loyalty program data to organize special events and giving them the opportunity to get a good deal ahead of the general public are things that millennials are coming to expect from brands that they shop with.

Millennials seek a seamless omnichannel experience
With all the platforms that millennials can purchase from, retailers should consider streamlining their pricing, promotions and use of coupons across brick-and-mortar, online and through mobile devices. We’ve all heard stories of inconsistent pricing and availability to the extent that millennial consumers have bought an item on their mobile device while standing in the physical store, taking advantage of an online promotion, then scheduling it for in store pick-up.  When the perceived value of an item is different across multiple channels, that doesn’t create a good experience for customers. They want the same service across each platform, creating that omnichannel experience.

Set yourself apart
Millennials look for something new and unique: An individual experience that enables them to stand out from their peers, or an experience they can share on social media. A number of retailers have used new technologies to create experiences and show products in a unique way. Some great examples of retailers excelling in this area include BloomingdalesSephora and Burberry.

Millennials don’t just want a unique brand experience; they crave integration between their experiences and social media. Some stores use unique hashtags and showcase user communications with those hashtags in store and/or online. This then highlights their shoppers’ styles and promotes customer engagement.

In addition to the look and feel, millennials will come into your store where they see a benefit. For example, retailers that offer in-store perks like free mini facials or champagne often see an increase in millennials. Though some shoppers buy and some just come for the free goodies, the retailer is providing them with a lasting positive experience. Additionally, those that don’t buy then may not have the spending capacity at that moment but will eventually return based on the previous positive experiences.

Looking Ahead
Shopping habits are ever-changing. Whether retailers are in the beauty industry, traditional apparel, department stores or luxury goods market, they need to know their customers and how to relate to them through modern technology, social media platforms, omnichannel and by making them feel special through an experience or perceived value in a loyalty program. Millennials are the future of the consumer business industry and retailers should aim to see things from their perspective as well as cater to the changes taking place from the traditional shopping experience.