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Important Millennial Shopping Trends Your Store Needs to Know

Posted by Dean Asher on 9/8/16 5:00 AM
Topics: retail technology, omnichannel, customer loyalty, Marketing to Students

Retail experts believe consumers aged 18-34  will spend a combined $200 billion annually beginning next year. That's some serious business, so how well do you understand how your customers choose to shop?

In a guest article for Retail Minded, Jennifer Pollock offers this insight into the shopping habits of millennials. Spoiler alert:  mobile and social media are huge, but so are physical storefronts.

Important Millennial Shopping Trends Your Store Needs to Know

They’re shopping in stores

You might think that millennials are eschewing in-store shopping and instead purchasing everything online. However, data says otherwise. An Accenture study found that the generation prefers to shop in brick and mortars, where they can touch and feel products IRL (in real life) before they decide to buy them.

But nine in 10 shoppers know what they want to buy before they arrive at the store. That means if they don’t see the same item in your shop that they saw online, they’re going to be disappointed (and you’re going to miss a sale).  Make sure you have the same products in stock in your brick-and-mortar as you do online, and that the price points are consistent.

Mobile, mobile, mobile

Not breaking news: millennials are glued to their mobile devices. A report found that one in five millennials relies exclusively on smartphones and tablets to get online. That means that a mobile-optimized online store is no longer just a nice-to-have, it’s essential to bring in sales from this demographic.

Your brick-and-mortar should also be optimized with mobile in mind. This is especially true when it comes to being able to accept NFC “contactless” payments like Apple Pay and Android Pay. A recent Accenture survey found that 23 percent of millennials use contactless payments at least once a week.

They’re into loyalty programs

In a survey by Bond Brand Loyalty, 68 percent of 20- to 34-year-olds said they would change where they shopped if it meant getting more rewards. And one-third reported buying something they didn’t necessarily want, just to earn some points. Loyalty programs that offer free shipping may be particularly effective. Of millennials surveyed in a recent report by LoyaltyOne, most said they value free shipping as a benefit of loyalty programs. If you don’t have a loyalty or rewards program, it’s worth investing in one—it’s definitely low-hanging fruit when it comes to appealing to millennials.

They’re influenced by social media endorsements

Keeping social accounts updated, relevant, and engaging is now crucial for any business. But even that may not be enough to cut through the noise.  Studies have found that millennials trust expert opinions from “strangers” over brands (and even their friends) when it comes to making purchasing decisions. Toward that end, businesses should consider social partnerships with influencers or experts in their space.

— Jennifer Pollock, via Retail Minded
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