Millennials—those born after 1980 ranging to the early 2000’s often referred to as Generation Y— prefer to shop with retailers that offer an omni-channel experience. But retailers aren’t doing enough to capture this essential demographic. Retailers understand that they must market to Millennials, however, they typically operate from their own preconceptions about what “Marketing to Millennials” means, and those assumptions do not necessarily align with what Generation Y truly wants in a shopping experience.Why Should Retailers Cater To Millennials?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2020, 46% of the American workforce will be made up of Millennials. By 2025, they estimate that number will grow to 75%. At present, the buying power of the younger generation is estimated at $200 billion. As more enter the workforce, the spending power of Gen Y will only increase. Where do those Millennials want to shop? Online.
Even if they don’t purchase online, Millennials want to be able to research products at their convenience, and they expect to find the same merchandise in-store that they found online: they expect a seamless omni-channel experience. This is where many retailers still miss the mark when it comes to online shopping. Many stores provide only a limited inventory for online shoppers, and small retailers often provide no option for shoppers to make an actual purchase online. Whether or not a Millennial shopper purchases from a website, they want to have the option to do so. Generation Y is likely to forgo those businesses that do not provide an online option in favor of those that do.The Seamless Shopping Experience
While Millennials enjoy online shopping, they still make a considerable amount of purchases in-store. This generation conducts more online research than any other; they are the most likely to research on their smartphones in the store before making a purchase. Having grown up with both helicopter parents and Amazon, they value the reviews and opinions of others. They are extremely used to getting feedback on everything they do to be sure they are doing it “right.” To that end, they use an omni-channel shopping experience to ask questions on social media, and gather others’ opinions before they make a decision. They will therefore choose a retailer that provides enough information on a variety of platforms to assure them they are making the right purchase.
A seamless omni-channel shopping experience looks something like this: a Millennial will research a product on brand websites, store sites, and social media. They will then go to the store to see the product up in person. Before committing to the purchase, they may hop back online to confirm that others agree that the item is worth buying. However, they want to do this in as few steps as possible. Stores that offer product descriptions, customer reviews, and a portal to social media have the best chance of capturing Millennial business.Establishing Millennial Connections Through Mobile Commerce
Millennials are the most highly-connected of all generations. Nearly three-quarters of Millennials use smartphones and tablets to enhance their shopping experiences. They read reviews, use mobile check-ins to earn rewards, and they use QR codes in-store to learn more about products they are interested in. Retailers that are not targeting their mobile efforts to reach Millennials leave money on the table.
Millennials also report that mobile coupons help drive their shopping decisions. Nearly 50% of these consumers have reported that they would visit a store if they were offered at least a 20% discount, and 75% would change their preferred retailer if they were offered real-time promotions through mobile apps. A mere 27% of retailers offer mobile coupons and less than 12% provide customers with daily mobile or web deals.
Generation Y often gets written off as the “me generation.” But this technologically savvy cohort will soon make up the majority of North America’s buying power. As products of the 24 hour news cycle and the Internet Age, they are used to accessing information in an instant. Retailers that adapt to meet Millennials’ omni-channel needs will be in a position to establish long-term customer relationships with a powerful segment of the population.