Retail Marketing: Adapting Strategies for the Millennial GenerationPosted by Kush Khandelwal on February 24, 2014
The millennial shopper currently represents the largest generation of consumers in a changing retail marketplace, one where retailers must make a continuous effort to evolve marketing strategies in order to stay ahead of the game. Millennials are officially categorized as having been born between 1980 and 2000. They are both the 20th centuryâ€™s last generation and its first truly digital one, making for an interesting marketing dichotomy and retail challenge when reaching out to this particular demographic.
Millennial shoppers are unique and important to marketing strategists because they have experience with both old century values and the boom of new technology. They share similar shopping preferences with generations before them (The Baby Boomers and Generation X), but also prefer to engage with brands far more extensively and personally than those previous generations. Technology has created for them more demanding expectations regarding how their needs are reflected in the brands they purchase and also, how they go about choosing and reviewing products.
Engage with Mobile
There is no doubt that mobile technology has changed shopping. With it, millennials have been gifted with a convenience unmatched by the marketing strategies of previous generations. Now, companies have the ability to provide direct marketing based on specific needs and personal demand. Further, while this generation is entirely comfortable (and often prefers) buying online, mobile devices and shopping apps are also essential for product information, reviews, rewards, and payments, particularly while in-store. When millennials see discounts, they are much more likely to buy, so providing this kind of access is essential for retail success.
Millennials are certainly very savvy online customers, but that doesnâ€™t mean theyâ€™ve stopped frequenting traditional brick and mortar stores. Mobile shopping apps enhance this in-store experience, allowing for potential customers to explore inventory, shop smarter, and save money with personalized offers. Regardless of how technologically on-trend you are, quality and service still matter, and this helps to achieve the next step in marketing to millennials: relevance.
For the millennial, itâ€™s all about a validation of needs. Many of these consumers use the Internet to sharpen their shopping skills by checking product ratings or feedback on particular retailers. Ultimately, they are looking for best value AND service. This combination means that purchasing decisions are influenced on a much larger scale than ever before. Most shoppers seek personalized, targeted promotions and discounts as the price for their loyalty.
Ultimately, a shopping experience depends very much on how relevant your brand is to the shopper, how much you can tailor your offers to fit a personal preference, and further, the strength and overall functionality of the goods and services that you provide. In addition to this, you need to think about who influences millennials (friends, family, celebrities) and also, think about whom and what they donâ€™t trust (general advertising, products that are â€œtoo good to be trueâ€).
Social media and mobile devices are certainly at the forefront of all marketing efforts, but retailers need to think beyond Facebook in reaching this particular group of consumers. Many sites, like Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Pinterest have become bigger platforms for providing relevant product recommendations from one millennial to another.
The Relationship: Reputation and Referrals
Things have become much more personal, and the buying of specific brands now reflects personal values and an overall â€œplace in the world.â€ Millennials need 24/7 availability and also, a connection with retailers that moves away from one-way push communications to more of a two-way open dialogue. The millennial shopper often makes purchasing decisions based on otherâ€™s experiences and research into how others have encountered a particular brand or product for themselves. This method of social conversation garners word-of-mouth marketing that no retailerâ€™s advertising budget can compete with. This article on marketing to the mothers of millennials highlights in greater detail this preference for referrals and the importance of brand reputation.
Millennials can be complex consumers, and it can be tricky to figure out the right balance between old school strategies as they mix with up-and-coming technological strategies. By focusing on a whole relationship with the consumer, retailers can nurture a bond that will essentially move to market itself to additional shoppers within the marketplace.