The millennial generation, just like any generation before it, has a different set of behavioral norms and experiences than that of the previous generations. Millennials are known to delay adulthood and for being slower to move out on their own and marry. Yet, in spite of being slow to leave the nest millennials hold a lot of spending power. As the first generation born into technology, millennials have helped create a “sharing economy” by removing borders of ownership.
Millennials are mastering the art of minimalism – the sharing economy has opened the doors for access to take precedence over ownership. The concept of ownership has transformed into something that many millennials find to be unnecessary. This is even more so the case when their typical buying process is innately fused with price comparisons and reviews.
It’s these ideologies and outlooks that make selling to millennials so troublesome. Here, we delve into some reasons why selling to millennials is so difficult, and how you can work around millennial minimalist attitudes to get them into your store and purchasing.
Nursery Rhymes Proved to Be True: It’s a Small World After All
Geographically, today’s world is no smaller nor bigger than it was a century ago. In terms of connectivity, today’s world is smaller than ever before. Nearly everything is instant, or on the verge of instancy. Because connectivity has increased through technology and mobility, millennials don’t view the world through the same set of eyes as previous generations. Aspirations for travel and desire for luxury possessions and services are much more obtainable with travel apps and myriad shopping sites. In Becoming Minimalist, author Joshua Becker points out that it has become increasingly difficult to live a mobile lifestyle with a house full of stuff. With high levels of accessibility millennials have no desire to be cluttered or tethered down, a major contributing factor as to why they are abandoning cars, cable television, unused items and other material goods at a fast rate.
With services like Uber, Airbnb, Plated and a growing number of subscription boxes, there’s little need to purchase items when they’re delivered for use right to your door. However, just because millennials trend towards minimalism, doesn’t mean they aren’t loyal to certain brands… that is as long as the brand keeps with the times. Inc.’s infographic on retailers and millennials shows that 84 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to visit websites of retailers with loyalty programs, and three-quarters of these consumers are likely to switch to brands that offer real time discounts and promotions to their smartphones while shopping. Retailers can embrace how small the world is by tapping into loyalty through mobile outreach. There are a variety of ways that retailers can entice millennial customers into continually shopping with their brand. Some of these take the form as mobile coupons, offers and payments.
Try Leveraging Data in Your Community
Since our world has shrunken through its mobile connectivity, retailers can take advantage of this same connectivity to better understand who they’re selling to. The millennial generation is more drawn to urban settings, leaving suburbia and rural areas behind. City dwellings are usually more expensive and accommodate for less, lending little room for unnecessary items. City life also fosters the sharing economy and diminishes the responsibilities of ownership. The medley of smaller apartments, walkable communities and shared amenities are the ingredients to the minimalism recipe, and in turn this millennial flavored lifestyle has hindered retail sales.
Well, if you can’t beat them, join them. There are a growing number of solutions out there for retailers looking to use big data for their marketing campaigns. If you’re a retailer looking to advertise and market to a city’s millennial consumer pool, mobile technology serves as a strong tool to leverage data for better tailored marketing strategies. Since mobile technology is a staple of a millennial’s lifestyle, it makes Foursquare’s new tool that measures foot traffic very appealing for retailers. Attribution Powered by Foursquare is a social and location discovery platform that connects retailers’ digital ads across Foursquare, the internet and other mobile apps with actual visits to physical stores. In short, brand’s can now target on-the-go customers in real time as they leisurely walk.
Expand Your Social and Environmental Responsibility Values
Already grounded in sharing, millennials are also much more conscious of social and environmental values than earlier generations. As a result, buying habits of millennials are influenced by their environmental and social concerns. An organization’s environmental responsibility is coveted, especially for those that are adopting limited to zero-waste lifestyles. For instance, New Yorker Lauren Singer has reduced her personal trash production from the average 4.3 pounds of waste per day, to fitting 2 years worth of trash in one teensy tiny mason jar. And while not every millennial goes to the extremes of waste limitation like Singer, many millennials make buying decisions based on what an organization gives back. Here are some examples of green and social retailing that entice millennials:
- Reduce, reuse, recycling initiatives
- Stores architected to reduce a retailer’s environmental footprint
- Providing greener product offerings that are earth and people friendly
- A percentage of sales that are donated to a charity or nonprofit
- Pledging a product of equal value to someone else in need, like Toms shoes
- BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) programs that reward customers with discounts for using reusable shopping bags
It shows that retailers are rewarded for taking ownership of their social and environmental responsibilities through increased support from millennials. In Nielsen’s Global Corporate Sustainability Report, 66 percent of global respondents say they’re willing to spend more on products and services that come from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impacts. If millennials are minimalists, then retail products and services have to be more of just good use. When retailers promise to help make a better world, it shows value beyond material commodities.
It’s All About Experiential Retail
Just because minimalism means fewer possessions, doesn’t mean it is the death of spending. Millennials are spending less on material goods and more on food, drink, travel and health and wellness. What do all of these have in common? At the core, millennials are much more likely to pay for an experience (especially one they can share with others) than for possessions. This past November, Forbes predicted 2016 to be the year of the millennial customer with the projection that the young generation will be spending $200 billion annually. Now when it comes to delivering millennials a customer experience, it’s no one size fits all.
Retailers are realigning and reshaping the customer experience to make their stores and restaurants have an atmosphere that is memorable and worthy of sharing. Many millennials opt for automated self service solutions. However, millennial customers are increasingly vying for authentic and personalized experiences. When retailers can offer an experience that is enjoyable, millennial customers feel more appreciated and relaxed. In turn, they’re more likely to share their experience with their peers. The more authentic, the more personal, the more unique, the more shareable. And when it’s share worthy, retailers will see fleets of millennials returning again and again. So the question millennials will want to know is, how is your brand different?
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