millennials and shopping

Although the media sometimes unfairly portrays Millennials as a selfish and superficial group, the reality could not be more different. Generation Y now makes up the largest generation in America (Pew Research Center). Roughly aged between 22 and 37, Millennials are having a major impact on the economy, and spend “$600 billion each year, which is 28% of all daily per-person consumer spending” (Forbes). The days when consumers could be brainwashed by marketing are long gone, and Millennials – who are now calling the shots – serve as the perfect illustration of that. They are informed, smart and savvy customers, and can determine whether your business will succeed or fail in today’s fast-paced retail environment. So, what should modern retailers focus on to appeal to Millennials? In this article, we will explore the seismic shift retail has been undergoing, and the vital role that Millennials are playing in it.

Live for the Moment

Millennials are experiential creatures, and truly enjoy their shopping excursions, making it even more crucial for retailers to constantly innovate to delight them. Once the bar has been set high by competitors in terms of the customer experience, Gen Yers will refuse to settle for less. Customer-centric tools, such as Clienteling and CRM can help to personalize the shopping experience and build meaningful relationships with customers. Technology can also be a sales associate’s best friend by tailoring promotions and interactions to consumers’ unique needs and personalities. Experiential loyalty programs are also popular among Millennials. Not only are they less common than points-based rewards, which make them appear more exclusive, but they also help create the type of meaningful memories this young group constantly craves, which in turn can help achieve a higher ROI and a more satisfied clientele.

Mobility-centric Generation

Whether it was with pre-World Wide Web online services or with the “real deal” thereafter, Millennials grew up with technology, and expect to shop on any device, at any time. Does this imply they’ve abandoned the brick-and-mortar world? Certainly not. It simply means that the online and in-store shopping experiences need to be both flawless and enjoyable. Millennials also tend to change devices, even while shopping, making omnichannel a critical component of retailers’ software capabilities. What’s more, Gen Yers are multitaskers and expect retailers to adapt to their busy lifestyles, not the other way around. It is not uncommon for them to shop online, watch TV, and text friends all at the same time.

Right Price, Right Product

Millennials are cautious and smart shoppers, who are known to conduct online research before making a new purchase, while consulting discount apps religiously to ensure that they’re not missing out on a great deal. In fact, “two-thirds of millennials admit that they will switch brands if they are offered a discount of 30% or more, and most millennials spend at least three minutes looking for coupons online” (Forbes). Although hunting for coupons may be more popular in the online world, it remains a common practice for in-store shoppers as well (Forbes). Posting coupons prominently on the home page of a website is another smart strategy for retailers who want to please Millennials and save their customers a little time. Also, most younger consumers highly value philanthropy, and taking care of their health is equally important to them. Although Gen Yers are typically money conscious, they will pay more if they can justify the purchase. For example, is the shampoo you are selling chock full of paraben and chemicals, or completely vegan?

Fast and Convenient

Millennials have busy lifestyles, so long lineups and non-responsive websites can be real deal breakers for them. The checkout process needs to be both highly convenient and fast. Not offering contactless payments in store can make the technology in your retail location look slightly outdated, and could even be of annoyance to certain consumers. As we increasingly move to a cashless society, Generation Y expect retailers to make life easier for them. Offering both free shipping and returns, virtual try-ons – in short anything that can supercharge the shopping experience – are all great ways to delight customers and encourage further purchases. Millennials are more connected than ever, but they also tend to have shorter interactions when online. In fact, “89% of them say they access the Internet on their smartphones more often than they used to, but in shorter bursts” (Google), which means that a user-friendly website, which offers a one-page checkout is a must-have for retailers.