How Millennials Are Changing Retail Patterns
Retail moves at the speed of culture, which means players sometimes quickly come and go. This speed is hastened by new technology and the group of shoppers using it the most – millennials.
The millennial generation is the largest in U.S. history, and as they reach their prime working and spending years, their impact on the economy will be significant. Millennials have come of age during a time of technological change, globalization, and economic disruption. These factors have given them a distinctly different set of behaviors and experiences.
This new generation is savvier and more educated. Millennials turn to handheld devices to meet all their needs. Whether it be hailing a ride through the Uber app or ordering a breakfast burrito through the Seamless app, technology is how they get things done. They are plugged into their devices and are disrupting traditional purchasing patterns.
Convenience And Flexibility
Millennials have grown up and matured with mobile technology and expect to be able to use it in every aspect of their life. They want to be able to make purchases, use social media, chat with friends, do online research and pay for products. The convenience of the mobile device is paramount to this group.
Improving the payment experience through self-checkout kiosks and advanced digital payment technologies is essential to keeping the millennial shopper. They use multiple devices to make purchases and have started turning their mobile device into a handheld wallet. The relentless focus on perfecting technology has set a new standard across the industry that millennials now accept as the norm. Retailers must be able to provide streamlined, user-friendly systems and processes to retain the millennial.
For example, retailers such as Starbucks are winning over millennial consumers with their mobile wallets – apps developed by stores which make it easier for customers to pay while delivering additional perks such as discounts or free drinks.
To appeal to this generation, retailers need to provide a seamless customer-facing retail experience. Whether this is online or in-store, millennials seek customer service professionals who understand their preferences and make recommendations tailored to their specific needs.
Millennials want a customer-centric experience in which they feel wanted and valued. Whether it is in-store or through social media channels, showing interest in these shoppers creates loyalty. To do this, retailers need to examine what they’re currently doing with customer data and ensure this information is being utilized to deliver a more personalized in-store experience. This can include where customers shopped last, what was purchased, and their motivation to convert.
For the past few years, Nordstrom has been investing heavily in data-driven, personalized customer experiences. For example, the retailer tracks popular items pinned on social network Pinterest, which is then displayed in-stores and labeled as “top-pinned items” with a logo. By incorporating social feedback into the shopping experience, Nordstrom can take the lead from the customer, to ensure that merchandise in-stores are personalized and in better alignment with what shoppers want.
Experiences Over Items
Mobile devices and technology may be an integral piece of their life, but this young generation values traditional experiences. They shop, but they also want activities such as movies and dining. They demonstrated this over the holidays when they spent an average of $220 on these activities – more than Generation X or Baby Boomers.
Social interaction with brands is also important, especially for millennials. They utilize social media in real time, posting photos of their whereabouts and purchases, affording retailers instant social traction while sharing their experience with others.
To encourage consumers to spend, brands have gotten creative. For example, some fitness brands realize the importance of experience, including popular athleisure brand Lululemon, which offers complimentary in-store fitness classes. Stores are evolving into entertainment spots for millennials who share similar interests allowing them to spend time together, while also enabling consumers to engage with the brand.
This group of young people doesn’t turn to social media just to share their experience but to be engaged with as well. Retailers are capitalizing on this emerging trend, leveraging the consumer-generated content of photo shares and hashtags to create word of mouth marketing and appealing to a broader audience.
Millennials’ buying power will soon surpass that of the generations before them. Retailers will have to work harder to meet their demands as they influence trends and redefine buying habits. They will continue to utilize technology, and continue to expect that the world around them to adapt them quickly.
As with any consumer audience, listen and map content to all phases of your customers’ journeys and find the moments of inspiration.
This article was written by Tom McGee from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.