Millennials Are Reshaping the Shopping Experience, Are You Keeping Up?

Millennials are shaping the customer shopping experience with both trendsetting and extraordinary spending power. Exposure to technology has defined their different tastes and habits, which tend to change regularly. Millennials might be more connected than other shoppers, but they do not embrace a linear way of shopping; they embrace omnichannel digital experiences and are constantly on the lookout for more innovative and engaging ways to shop.

Classified as individuals 18-34 years old, Millennials actually care more about the experiences than owning things, and that poses the biggest challenge for retailers. According to Business Intelligence, Millennials are obsessed with the style of life than the stuff of life.

On the other hand, when it comes to retail, they have a very specific way of shopping and tend to become impulse buyers. More than 80% of Millennials in the U.S. have made an impulse purchase in 2014 and continue to do so today. However, Millennials are also more likely to regret their impulse purchases. Millennials make impulse purchases as soon as they get paid, when they are attracted to a promotion, or when they’re in need of retail therapy. Impulse purchases are higher among women than men. “Nearly seven in 10 women made impulse purchases after seeing price promotions while six in 10 male shoppers were tempted by the same offers,” according to eMarketer. Unfortunately, after making the impulse purchase, Millennials express dissatisfaction due to either the quality of product, or the overall cost of their purchase.

Millennials will spend more than $200 billion annually starting in 2017 and $10 trillion in their lifetimes, according to Ad Age. Selling to Millennial shoppers requires identifying their purchase habits and behaviors, what they truly care about, and how your brand should engage with them.

Millennials Trust Brands Who Care

Millennial shoppers enjoy adventure and discovery whether it’s travel, or day to day routines. Millennials are not moved by flashy marketing messages. They want to know they’re dealing with real humans, not faceless corporations. They value the shopping experience and expect retailers to communicate in a simple, vibrant and authentic voice. They also seek retailers for style advice and brand information. Millennials want brands to be more transparent, relevant to current trends, and prove that they actually care about their customers.

womanshopping1They crave a personalized experience that speaks to their every want and need. This is an opportunity for retailers to engage with Millennial shoppers at a deeper level to gain their loyalty. However, this is where retailers are struggling the most since delivering a truly personalized experience requires retailers to intimately know their shoppers and tailor a unique shopping experience. Gathering such data and derive meaningful insights can be very challenging. To get to know your Millennial shoppers and build a connection, you should strongly consider creating a sense of community and incorporating that into your brand so they understand who you are.

For example, ModCloth has developed trust and loyalty with their shoppers by building a community for customers in their Style Gallery. Customers submit a photo of their ModCloth outfit to publish in the Style Gallery and share with their fellow community members. By doing this, ModCloth can connect with customers and empower them to be the faces of their brand. Shoppers also have access to a ModCloth stylist seeking for advice.

Millennial shoppers care more about the experience, and when they’re satisfied with the experience, they become your most loyal shoppers. It’s that simple. Although product and price are important to Millennials, a consistent, yet memorable shopping experience is their top priority. They want to be treated as valued customers and demand a customer-centric shopping experience, according to Accenture. While store associates may be helpful to many consumers, Millennial shoppers want them out of the way, for the most part. Through years of experience with online and self-service solutions, Millennial shoppers have grown to the use of technology. While Millennials want to engage with real humans, paradoxically, the need for human guidance in the store, or online has nearly vanished.

Millennials Connect With Your Brand In Every Possible Way

Millennial shoppers are technology driven, making them the most connected compared to any other consumer. They don’t embrace a linear way of shopping. From word of mouth promotions to social media and the brand’s mobile site, Millennial customers browse and shop on every channel possible.

Millennial customers are shopping for fun. They are more likely to compare prices and deals online than baby boomers. Ninety percent of Millennials research products online before making a purchase. Although saving money is a priority for Millennials, 52% are more likely to make impulse purchases compared to any other generation.

Impulse buyers might be a benefit for retailers, but what influences Millennials to make such purchases?

Similar to many tech savvy shoppers, Millennial shoppers leverage smartphones as a powerful method of connection to the web. They love mobile and online shopping. Because they’re so technology driven, 67% of Millennials who shop online use a smartphone more than any other device to compare and check prices of products, according to Business Insider.

Millennials look online for product reviews, ratings, pricing, and promotions. On average, Millennials now make 54% of purchases online versus 49% of non-Millennials, according to WSJ. Not to mention, Millennial shoppers trust strangers – your brand – more than people they know. In a recent study, 51% said user generated content found on a company’s website have a greater impact on their purchase decisions than recommendations from family and friends.

To connect with tech-savvy shoppers, make sure your mobile and desktop site exceed their shopping standards. And to take it even a step further, find ways to personalize their mobile experience each time they open your mobile app or site. From product recommendations, targeted content, and personalized promotions, Millennial shoppers will begin to trust and understand your brand.

Millennials Expect Brands to be Active on Social Media

As the first generation of digital natives, Millennials prefer interacting with brands through digital channels to traditional channels. Social media is the gateway to reach and engage with Millennials. However, if your brand is satisfied with only having an account on social media without being active and posting on a daily basis, it’s not going to be enough.

Constant exposure on social media with the right content will reach the right audience at the right time. Millennials don’t necessarily follow a brand’s social channel, but use it to get special offers and product updates. For example, during any holiday season and the new year, offer new product lines for gifts and targeted holiday promotions. Offer advice to your audience and teach them how to use your product.

In addition, Millennials turn to everyday bloggers and YouTube stars for product information and reviews than to a retailer itself. YouTube is your golden ticket to allow potential consumers to see your product live in action, shown by a fellow shopper.

According to ThinkWithGoogle, videos with “haul” in the title are watched more than 1.1 billion times on YouTube and they’re continuing to grow.

Invest in unboxing and “haul” YouTube videos. Haul videos are YouTube’s way of helping consumers tell their friends and family about their latest purchases. Some shoppers will add reviews about their shopping experience mentioning pricing and discounts, product quality, and features, and ease or difficulty of use.

Millennials Crave a Memorable Shopping Experience

It’s simple. Millennials care about memorable experiences. A memorable shopping journey is one that creates a positive impact on the shopper by delivering personalized and informative experiences on every channel at every point of the shopping journey. Surprisingly, Millennials prefer to browse for products rather than purchase them. They care about the experience of the transaction over the transaction itself. Since retailers are offering more commerce options than ever before, such as accessing promotions on any channel or device, checkout and payment options, in-store capabilities, and more, Millennials have become very selective of their purchases. In a recent study, Millennials will make a purchase if retailers “make [them] smile” in-store and experience satisfaction. This is far more important to Millennials than Baby Boomers.

Millennials embrace loyalty programs. They can be your most loyal shoppers. According to Entrepreneur, 69% belong to a retail loyalty program and 70% of those are happy with their loyalty programs. They care about your values as a company and invest in brands that align with their values. More than half of Millennials make an effort to shop and buy products from companies that support causes they care about.

Millennial shoppers want a personalized experience in-store and online in real time. They expect retailers to have working technology such as, mPOS, kiosks, and mobile apps, to make their shopping experience more convenient and memorable. They want promotions and coupons targeted to their specific needs and accessible on their channels of preference. This is part of delivering a memorable shopping experience that brands should start investing in.

Last, Millennials are price-sensitive. Price has a greater influence over all other factors including quality, store, brand, and availability. Since most of the generation was affected during the recession in 2008, Millennials are shopping smarter by leveraging all the available resources at their fingertips.

Millennials will drive your brand toward success. By word of mouth marketing, social media engagement, and becoming your most loyal shopper, Millennials can make or break the success of your brand. Remember, this generation values experience over anything else and represents a great opportunity to gain and increase loyalty, revenue, and awareness. In order to achieve success, retailers must keep up with Millennial shoppers by understanding their behavior and interests and showing them that you care. This helps create a memorable, shopping experience for Millennials to continue to shop with your brand and trust you more than ever before.



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