Getting Inside the Head of the Millennial Shopper

August 8, 2016

9:45 am

Millennials are often called the “C” generation – “C” meaning “connected.” This group of consumers has had technology in its hands since its toddler years, and use it for virtually every activity except eating and sleeping. It now represents over 25 percent of the total population (92 million), and its purchasing will exceed $200 billion in 2016. Getting your market share of this money will require marketing strategies, not advertising. Here are some behaviors that drive millennial purchasing and how you can capitalize on them.

Recommendations from Their Social Communities Are a Big Factor

Millennials do ask their friends for recommendations and they do read reviews of products/services before making a purchasing decision. As an e-commerce retailer, then, you need to:

  • Create and engage in conversations with your customers, and encourage them to converse with fellow customers. Ask for reviews.
  • Monitor social media conversations about your company and respond quickly
  • Make sharing a one-click option for every piece of content you publish

Budgeting Drives Purchasing

Given their student loan debt and a difficult job market, millennials are not making big purchases and, in many instances, are moving back in with mom and dad. They are also shunning plastic for purchasing. They want quality and value, but they also want the best price. With technology at their fingertips, they use price comparison tools, such as Hanutt, and will even delay purchases if they think better prices will be coming. They are also looking for better options when they need to finance something. Retailers selling pricier items may want to look at:

  • Offering 90-120 day same as cash financing; and
  • Providing access to financing tools that give them flexibility in payments.

Values Are Important

Millennials want to do business with companies that they view as having integrity and a social conscience. They don’t like clothiers that use sweatshop practices in third-world countries, for example, and they do support companies that are eco-friendly and that support important causes. Good practices for retailers would include:

  • Finding a local, national, or international cause to support and publicizing it everywhere. Donate a piece of each purchase price to a cause (e.g. Toms Shoes, Headbands of Hope).
  • Explain how your product is made and show it with visuals.

Social Media – You Cannot Avoid It

81 percent of millennials are on Facebook. And they access their devices an average of 43 times a day. When you chose social media platforms for marketing, be certain to:

  • Entertain and inspire
  • Showcase customers
  • Use visuals – photos, videos, etc.
  • Get conversations going

They Are Looking for Value and Benefit

Millennials need to see real value in purchasing your product or service. They don’t make impulsive purchases just because something is new. They tend to stick with companies that have provided value in the past, so if you are looking to make inroads into this market, you must:

  • Show the benefit and value first rather than tout the product or service
  • Use explainer videos to describe the value and benefit
  • Focus on actual product and cost secondarily

Check out the explainer video of Dollar Shave Club as a prime example. There is no mention of the subscription prices and options. There is just an explanation of how the company can make subscribers’ lives easier. It’s a winner.

The Takeaway

You do want a piece of this consumer market – it is huge. And the only way you will get that is by:

  • Establishing relationships through conversation;
  • Making it easy for your content to be shared;
  • Asking for opinions and reviews;
  • Focusing on value and benefit, not your product;
  • Being environmentally and socially responsible;
  • Using social media to entertain and inspire; and
  • Providing financing options when appropriate.

Millennials comprise a population that wants to clean up some messes that the Boomers have created. Part of this is supporting companies that they believe have integrity. Have that integrity and you will appeal to them.

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Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien

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