Millennials: who are they from a retailer prospective?
They are called Millennials or Generation Y. They are in the age within 18 and 35. About 12 million, only in Italy, hyper-connected, open to cultural influences, experimenters and searching for novelty. For some time now, marketing experts dedicate themselves to studying consumer habits and getting this important user base, and amazing results are being consolidated. For example, some studies bring to light the trend of Millennials to shop in stores rather than online, as it would be easily assumed about “digital natives” and it’s always open season for discounts, vouchers, offers of the moment. Money is easily invested in luxury goods, such as smartphones and technological supports to enable them a constant retrieval of information, reports and comparisons. But what is the relationship of Millennials with food, entertainment, use of the premises? Can the design and identity of a venue attract this particular audience? Of course, the answer is yes. A survey of Osservatorio Birra Moretti, published in July, 2015, showed that the gastronomic culture fascinates a lot these young people who show interest in promoting their own territories – as much as to prefer restaurants with regional recipes and local products at KM zero – always with an eye to health and well-being: 92% believe food is one of the fundamental pillars of their well-being, 87% try to consume fresh products , 67% try to reduce fat, 61% pay attention to calories, 60% consume whole foods. Other interesting facts, discovered by an investigation of the group Elior: meal times are highly variable, speed is a decisive factor, as well, of course, the free Wi-Fi.
The Game Changers
Quite predictably, the sudden omnipresence of technology in all aspects of life has changed the shopping habits of the millennials, which has consequently brought a major transformation in retail trends. Compared to their previous generations, the millennials are more connected to their digital devices, and through these devices with global retail brands. ‘Omni-channel retailing’ has become a pervasive buzzword, empowering the age group of 15-35 year olds to shop at a location of their convenience – whether at an e-commerce store, a mobile store or an actual department store.
With the millennials wielding a lion’s share of the annual purchasing power of most countries around the world, they simply cannot be ignored by brands!
New Retail Trends
With a paradigm shift in traditional retailing, there is no doubting the fact that the millennials have become the center of attention for all major (and minor) brands. To keep them happy, retail brands have started carrying out a string of other significant transformations including:
Improved Engagement with Consumers at Strategic Digital Touch Points
From a unilateral marketing propaganda, the communication between brands and millennials has now become a two-way dialogue. Retailers these days ‘hang out’ at digital arenas such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram where they are most likely to find, interact with and influence their target consumers.
Social media is paramount and is instrumental in bringing brands and consumers together. At the same time, the social media generation also has a ‘choice’ to engage with their preferred brands online, ask questions and voice out their needs. Every time a consumer looks up a product or a service online – whether on a desktop, a smart phone or a tablet, on a company’s website or on its Facebook business page – he engages with the brand. Customer service representatives available to answer the consumers’ questions at such digital touch points help to improve engagement, interaction and ultimately brand loyalty!
Building Brand Loyalty
Ever wondered why Apple and Amazon are so popular and profitable? It’s because these brands don’t just do business; they win ‘valued’ customers who love the brands’ products, believe in their values and everything that they stand for.
Ever since the invention of trade (the barter system, perhaps?), consumers have been loyal to their brands of choice. What’s so different about the millennials? The point of difference lies in the fact that this user group has multiple ways to select their favorite brand; more choice and better access too! So, while reward points and discount vouchers are important, what the millennials want the most is to be ‘valued’.
This is where loyalty programs come into the picture. The need to improve their reputation and amass more and more loyal customers also puts immense pressure on the retail brands to improve the quality of their products and services; the better their offerings, the happier and more committed their ‘loyal customers’ will be!
Now, don’t you feel happy every time you win extra flying miles for choosing a particular airline and your loyalty card upgrades from ‘privileged silver’ to ‘executive gold’?
The Culture of Retail Events
Another strategic way to increase footfall in stores, engage with and entertain buyers is to host an in-store retail event that will draw millennials from the local communities. The idea is very simple – when shopping in a store, customers with the most spending power don’t just pop in and check out. They spend some time inside the store, look things up, check out cool, new stuff and interact with the staff.
Brands have started hosting retail events such as gaming competitions, local radio sponsored giveaways, educational camps and concerts featuring local bands – basically any and all kinds of feasible events that would appeal to 15-35 year olds. Such events draw crowds to the stores not just during the holiday season but also during lean sales periods. Engagement meets education, which meets entertainment and that’s the whole package that millennials want out of their shopping experience – just like any other extra-curricular activity!
Instant, Seamless & Secure Transactions
Whether it’s ‘doorstep delivery’, ‘secure online payment’ or ‘replacement or return guarantee’ – every service offered by modern retailers centers around the convenience of the millennials. Home-run stores that operate from a web portal have become full-fledged businesses offering a wide selection of products, quick and reliable services and a host of secure and convenient payment options including cash on delivery, monthly installments through a virtual credit card and of course through verified online interfaces such as PayPal, Google Wallet and Apple Pay. Every transaction, be it pizza delivery or holiday planning is literally a click or two away – and this is exactly what Generation Y wants!
These evolving retail trends mark a major shift from the way brands used to conduct their business a few years ago. The creation of more jobs has increased the spending capacity of this new generation of shoppers and retailers that wish to thrive in the booming market must adopt their strategies to meet the needs of this target group.
Perhaps a thorough brand re-evaluation and re-designing, supported by a robust digital marketing strategy will help them get closer to their goal of achieving long term competitive advantage.