We are seeing the term 'Millennial' being used more and more often in various discussions, but what does it mean to retailers? Who are these Millennial customers that are so often being referred to?
In a post earlier this year, ShopperTrak, a company that focuses on shopper analytics, revealed that Millennials between 19 and 35 years of age are price-conscious consumers who are willing to do extensive product research before making purchases. Despite this, they continue to be more loyal to quality products and brands and also expect a retailer to be more "socially conscious, give back, and have a positive impact on society." In other words, Millennials can be a challenge to many retailers.
Some merchants we've been engaged with recently in our work complained that young Millennials don't have any money and aren't coming to their stores to shop. As a result, these owners have since redirected their attention away from this group of visitors even though the group is slated to possess over $200B in collective annual spending power by 2017. Are their actions founded or is there something they are missing to grab the attention of the challenging Millennial shopper? Here are some strategies that retailers can pursue in order to attract and retain the ever-growing Millennial customer base:
Strategy #1: Ensure convenient digital presence
Over 92% of Millennials own smartphones and 69% read product reviews on their mobile devices. These statistics indicate to retailers the importance of having an online presence that enables Millennials to not only read product reviews and do their buying research but also to make instant purchases. In addition, retailers should also leverage social media as a key marketing tool to reach Millennials. Applications such as Instagram and Facebook are fast turning into the latest version of 'word-of-mouth' recommendations and this has been shown to be the most effective form of 'advertising' for Millennials.
Strategy #2: Support a cause and make it known
As mentioned earlier, Millennials have shown that they value companies that support a cause and give back to society rather than just simply making profits. According to research from Barkley, an independent advertising agency, more than 50% of millennials make an effort to buy products from companies that support the causes they care about. TOMS shoes and Warby Parker are some useful examples of socially-conscious brands valued and supported by Millennials.These companies give back by donating one of their very own products for every one purchased and have not been shy about publicizing their respective social missions. There are of course other brands that simply donate a percentage of profits to a charity of their choice.
Strategy #3: Create a helpful and authentic in-store experience
Millennials prefer an “experiential” retail environment where shopping is more than a transaction and forcing of goods. The trend of carefully curating product assortment and customer experiences in brick and mortar stores is spreading fast. Someone walking into a Warby Parker showroom, for example, is immediately transported to an old library through interior design and staff roles. The showrooms not only expose the customer to a range of eye wear neatly displayed on book cases, but also to carefully curated reading materials that are presumably desired with better eyesight. Sales associates' deep knowledge of products on offer also make the in-store experience substantially better.
All in all, Millennials want to be brought on an engaging and unique journey that most importantly provides them useful information regarding products on offer.