Selling to Millennials – Why is It So Difficult?

Masters of minimalism and sharing their experiences on social media anywhere and at any time.

Published on 27 June, 2016 | Last modified on 24 October, 2022

Masters of minimalism and sharing their experiences on social media anywhere and at any time.

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 to 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.

Let’s delve into some of the reasons why selling to millennials is so difficult, and how you can work around millennial minimalist attitudes to get them into your shop and purchasing.

It’s a Small World

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; travel apps and shopping sites increase the desire and acquirability of luxury possessions and services. As a minimalist millennial herself, marketer Lauren Inggs points out that it has become increasingly appealing to live with and around products that are useful, functional, and smart. With high levels of accessibility, millennials have no desire to be cluttered or tethered down, an important contributing factor as to why they are abandoning cars, cable television, and other material goods at a fast rate.

With services like Uber, Airbnb, Just Eat 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 retailer websites if they have loyalty programmes, and three-quarters of these consumers are likely to switch to brands that offer real-time discounts and offers to their smartphones while shopping. Retailers can embrace our shrinking World by tapping into loyalty through mobile outreach.

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Green and social retailing that entice millennials

Retailers, as well as customers, can take advantage of increased 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 flats 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 mix of smaller apartments, walkable communities, and shared amenities are key ingredients to the minimalism recipe and, in turn, this millennial-flavoured lifestyle has hindered retail sales.

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 tailoring your marketing strategies. Since mobile technology is a staple of a millennial’s lifestyle, it makes tools that measure 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, brands can now target on-the-go customers in real time as they walk.

Expand Your Social and Environmental Responsibility Values

Millennials are also much more conscious of social and environmental values than earlier generations. As a result, their buying habits are influenced by environmental and social concerns. An organisation’s environmental responsibility is coveted, especially for those that are adopting limited- to zero-waste lifestyles. While not every millennial goes to the extremes of waste limitation, many millennials make buying decisions based on what an organisation gives back. Here are some examples of green and social retailing that entice millennials:

  • Reduce, reuse, recycling initiatives
  • Stores engineered to reduce a retailer’s environmental footprint
  • Providing greener product offerings that are environmentally friendly
  • A percentage of sales that are donated to a charity or non-profit
  • Pledging a product of equal value to someone else in need
  • BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) programmes 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. 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 end of spending. Millennials are spending less on material goods and more on food, drink, travel, and health and well-being. What do all of these have in common? All in all, millennials are much more likely to pay for an experience (especially one they can share with others) than for possessions.
Retailers are realigning and reshaping the customer experience to make their shops 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 personalised 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, especially if that experience feels authentic, personal, unique, and shareable. And when it’s share-worthy, retailers will see a greater number of millennials returning again and again. At the end of the day, the question millennials will want to know is: how is your brand different?

Mimeo Marketing Team

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