Millennials are on the threshold of becoming the most powerful force in the consumer market. A recent US report on the Millennials‘ annual purchasing power indicates an estimate of $200 billion of direct purchasing power and $500 billion of indirect spending (influence on the spending of their mostly baby boomer parents). Their purchasing power already peaked a while ago but is still going strong, so if you want them to apply their consumer force on your brand or product, the time is now.
This will not be easy, however, as this generation is quite a special one with a different view on the what, how, where and when of retail shopping. Not only do they love a customer-centric shopping experience, they also feel very strongly about personalized targeted promotions and discounts, they like to be reached online and be mobile and they think value and quality are much more important than brand loyalty. These remarkable facts are being discussed in the 2015 Millennial Retail Study from Tina Wells’ Buzz Marketing Group, which interviewed 400+ Millennials around the world about their shopping behavior and interaction with retailers.
Hot tweetaway: The 2015 Millennial #Retail study: How #Millennials are shopping insit.es/1D1ZveY by @BuzzMG via @CoolBrands #GenY
Ok, so they are one of a kind. But how can your brand catch their attention (and make it into their wallet)?
1. Be where they are: online & mobile
Being that over-social, marketing-savvy, stimulation-junky generation that Millennials are, it’s a commonly accepted notion that they are harder to reach and less receptive to advertising. They care less and less about crazy billboards, cool commercials or outstanding offline marketing actions. They want brands to reach out where they are: in the online and mobile worlds.
Millennials want to interact with brands through digital channels and force brands to become much more participative in ways such as casually engaging them on Twitter and/or Facebook. According to an Adweek infographic, 90% of Millennials are on Facebook, 42% log in daily. Furthermore, 66% follow brands on social media. Not only do they love to stay informed about brands through social media, they also love to engage with the brands in the online and mobile worlds. This goes from receiving coupons on their cellphones to shopping online while on the road or just comparing products’ and brands’ price and quality. One of my favorites, for example, is ASOS’ Facebook page where they share links to new items, but also cool facts about fashion and celebrities. A perfect contribution to my very own Facebook page.
2. Word of mouth is the best advertising
Millennials are leaders not only when it comes to being marketing savvy, but also when it comes to word-of-mouth recommendations. Combine the two and you will understand why 93% of Millennials have already purchased a product after hearing about it from a family member or friend. For Millennials, the path to purchase is just more circuitous than with shoppers of other generations and can be seen as a collaborative experience; they will not buy without input from on- and offline peers and are more influenced by word-of-mouth than Baby Boomers, who in turn are more reliant on advertising. This makes word-of-mouth the most effective marketing tool when it comes to marketing your brand to this generation.
3. Focus more on the experience than on the buying an sich
It has been proven that Millennials tend to be more receptive to brands which make them feel like they are part of the process, which leads us to our third tip: interact and engage with them, make them part of the unique experience offered by your product or brand.
This already starts in the pre-purchase phase. Millennials never feel like they cannot shop. When they are bored in traffic, they take their phone and shop. When they can’t sleep, they take their phone and shop. They are constantly in the market, which grants retailers unlimited access to their target group. Plus, you have got the advantage that Millennials are lurkers. They prefer access over ownership and love the entertainment part of shopping: lurking around what the offer is before deciding what to buy. Think about the luxury of lurking on Spotify and Netflix and you’ll know what I mean.
Hot tweetaway: #Millennials prefer access over ownership insit.es/1D1ZveY by @MasNatalie via @CoolBrands #coolbrands #retail #Geny
Another brand which is doing great in this area is Absolut Vodka. Last month, they invited fans from all over the world to assist in making a crowd-sourced animated film. Without even purchasing the product, you as a contributor could decide how scenes should look and how characters should behave. Yet, because they make you part of the experience by connecting with you, I am pretty sure you WILL purchase it sooner or later.
Also, I think it is amazing what Dove did during their Dove Self-Esteem Weekend, where people could share their insecurities by sending Snaps to the Dove Snapchat profile. This was tracked by a team of Self-Esteem Educators, who were on-hand to respond with confidence-boosting advice on a one-on-one basis.
Another (easy) way to keep them at your side during the purchase process is couponing. Millennials love coupons. Research by Solmozone even proves that 75% of Millennials would switch to brands that deliver real-time discounts and promotions to their smartphones while shopping. A really cool campaign in this area was the one by Outback Steakhouse, which used geo-location advertising to lure consumers to their diners. A geo-fence was set up in a 10-mile radius of its casual dining competitors and in a 5-mile radius around its own locations. When potential customers enter the radius, they receive an ad on their cellphone, pointing out specials and other promotions to them. The only thing they need to do is click through to be guided to the nearest Outback Steakhouse.
4. They care, so let them share
And if you think being part of the experience stops with the purchase, you are wrong. Millennials want interaction with brands, they want their voices to be heard and they want brands to listen to them. 81% of Millennials prefer to provide positive feedback when they choose to. That is why it is important for you to give them the opportunity to do so, whether online or offline. They want to be listened to, so it is up to you to open the gates, listen to their feedback and respond to it. A brand which is doing this perfectly is KLM. As part of its #HappytoHelp campaign, they have enlarged their customer service team to 250 specialists who monitor all questions and feedback from travelers, not just those flying with the Dutch airline.
Hot tweetaway: 80% of #Millennials prefer to provide positive feedback when they choose to insit.es/1D1ZveY by @MasNatalie via @CoolBrands #GenY
So, how can you keep up with this Millennial generation that is redefining purchase habits, changing the rules of brand marketing and revolutionizing the shopping experience as we know it? Go along with them, be where they are and evaluate how you attract and interact with them. Let these 4 tips guide you along the way and get Millennials to shop till they drop (in your shop of course). Good luck!
Hot tweetaway: 4 tips to engage the Millennial shopper insit.es/1D1ZveY by @MasNatalie via @CoolBrands #coolbrands #GenY #retail