Some years ago, ‘Millennial’ was little more than a popular catchword among trend hunters, announcing the advent of a new, tech-savvy generation. By now, these youngsters have grown up and gained serious buying power. (We’re talking about an annual value of $200 billion in the US only, with Millennials representing one quarter of the total population both in the United States and in the European Union.)
Missing out on the needs of this empowered, exciting, demanding generation at this critical moment is a huge mistake for any retailer - as this means lost revenue.
But guess what: Millennial shoppers don’t follow the same patterns as their ‘ancestors’ did. Hence, retailers targeting them shouldn’t force the same old promotional practices on them either.
Let’s take a look at some quick facts about the Millennial shopping behavior to better understand their needs.
Smartphone: Millennials’ all-around shopping companion
89% of Millennials use mobiles to connect to the Internet, surpassing desktop usage. No wonder that their number one shopping companion is their smartphone, too, with mobile and social shopping on the rise.
This doesn’t mean they’ve abandoned brick-and-mortar stores: half of them love to browse products in-store. However, they keep their smartphones close at hand: a whopping 40% say they use their mobile while shopping in stores. They may pull it out of their pocket to run a quick comparison shopping to make sure they’re getting the best value.
Traditional mobile marketing tactics just won’t do
Bad news for retailers: these young generations are increasingly resistant to traditional forms of advertising. Only a teeny-weeny 1% of Millennials surveyed said that a compelling advertisement would make them trust a brand more.
They care much more about authenticity and experiences they can share on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and lately also Snapchat.
‘Timely gratification’ is the magic word: these consumers are seeking experiences that are embedded into the shopping situation in terms of ‘where’ and ‘when’. Growing up with access to information at their fingertips, they have become accustomed to an on-demand lifestyle and they have zero tolerance for poor customer experience.
This creates demand for new types of native, organic mobile experiences in retail, pushing boring, old, passive practices out of the way. We’re talking about a (r)evolution at key touchpoints such as product discovery, consumer education and purchase.
The new sorts of interactive shopping experiences that satisfy Millennials’ demand for instant gratification
Imagine things like being able to point your smartphone at a print ad or poster featuring an outfit you like, connecting to the brand’s online store and buying the products with one tap.
Or, using your phone to scan the label of a bottle of crisp rosé wine you grabbed to get matching recipes for light summer munchies.
Or, when standing in front of the shelves at a beauty store, opening a branded app and pointing your smartphone at a gorgeous eyeshadow palette. The app then identifies the scanned product, showing makeup tutorials and matching the best price available.
Connecting digital content to physical products. Scan to shop. Visual search instead of text search. Just a few examples of all that’s now part of retail’s reality, thanks to the latest advancements in mobile technologies such as object and image recognition. Remember when we talked about instant gratification? Such novel product interactions cater exactly to that demand.
With the dawn of Gen Z, the generation born after Millennials, captivating mobile experiences will be as important as never before. (Remember, they are the first humans to have ever lived their entire life with the Internet around.) Experts actually predict that irreverent, fun-loving Gen Z consumers will be twice as likely to shop on mobile as Millennials.
So, retailers, it’s time to embrace easy-to-use, timely, interactive shopping experiences these next generation consumers are craving for and erase ‘passive’ from your commercial vocabulary.
Image credits: Veles Studio / Shutterstock