Coming To Terms With Millennials: Advice From The Experts

Millennials are mentioned in almost every article related to retail marketing these days. And Retail TouchPoints is no exception. We focused a special report on the topic back in February, titled: Can Retailers Keep Pace With Millennial Consumers?.

With that in mind, merchants must take the proper steps to attract more Millennial consumers and motivate Millennial employees to be brand advocates. 

Retailers are trying to answer the following key questions when it comes to this influential generation:


When selling to Millennials:

  • What are the best ways to communicate with Millennials?

  • What products or services are Millennials looking for?

When hiring Millennials:

  • How do I motivate Millennials to be brand advocates?

  • Do I need to manage Millennials differently than other age groups?

There seems to be an element of fear when it comes to working with and meeting the needs of this generation. This could be related to their projected future buying power, the fact that they have grown up in the digital era, and their experience vs. product approach to buying.

The fear is not without merit. In a chart titled 22 Shocking Stats About Millennials To Help You Chart Tomorrow’s Change, Aabaco Small Business summed up some of the key challenges:

  • Approximately 10,000 Millennials turn 21 every day in America;1

  • By 2018 Millennials will have the most spending power of any generation;2 and

  • By 2018 Millennials will eclipse Baby Boomers in spending power, reaching $3.39 trillion.3

Best Advice For Understanding And Working With Millennials

So what’s a business leader to do? Instead of losing sleep or spending a lot of time on the psychiatrist’s couch, here are some relevant tips from industry experts:

Stores are still relevant, but must be experiential. As many as 82% of Millennials prefer shopping in a store, according to Accenture in a report, titled: Who are the Millennial Shoppers? And what do they really want?4 But the store experience can’t be single-channel and it must offer a compelling experience. In one example, Tommy Hilfiger launched a virtual reality experience in its Fifth Avenue, New York City store, featuring a 3D view of the fall collection.

Print media is still viable. Millennials spend a lot of time online, but mostly for socializing and entertainment, according to Linda Antos, Corporate Market Development Analyst from Quad/Graphics. Nearly 50% of Millennials say they ignore Internet and email ads versus 15% for print advertising, Quad/Graphics reported in a study titled: Millennials: An Emerging Consumer Powerhouse. Additionally, 82% of Millennials said they read direct mail from retail brands; and 49% took print coupons to the store within 30 days of the study.

Good causes resonate. As many as 60% of Millennials would choose one brand over another if it is tied to a charity, according to Marci Zaroff, Founder, Under The Canopy. Zaroff and four other industry executives shared their insights on cause marketing during a Retail Innovation Conference panel. Tom’s of Maine, for example, donates to charities across the U.S. through its 50 States For Good program.

Consider social channels carefully. YouTube and blogs win out over Facebook or Twitter when it comes to Millennials’ social commerce activities. More than 36% of Millennials find YouTube most influential, according to Collective Bias. And marketers should avoid celebrity endorsements when targeting Millennials: 70% prefer non-celebrity marketing.

It’s okay to be pushy, but not creepy. A vast majority (84%) of Millennials act on push notifications, according to a 2015 Direct Marketing News study. When considering push notifications, consider this: “Through push tactics you can manage customer communication and customer interaction better than via a mobile web site,” stated Sean Shoffstall, VP, Innovation and Strategy, Teradata Interactive, in a column on the Retail TouchPoints site. “But just remember: Don’t be creepy. Be sure to be relevant, not invasive.”

Similar values make good Millennial relationships. If you’re looking to hire new employees, chances are you’re going to be interviewing a lot of Millennials. Although it’s always valuable to share overall values when it comes to business and the company mission, it’s especially important to Millennials. “A purpose-driven company attracts purpose-driven people…like Millennials,” said Brian Scudamore, Founder and CEO of O2E Brands (1-800-GOT-JUNK). “State your ‘why’ loud and clear — that way you can attract people who feel just as passionately as you do about your business.”

It’s clear that Millennials are gearing up to be the most influential shopper and employee segment in the near term. So take your head out of the sand, brace yourself and gear up to meet the needs of this important demographic.







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