What began as a vague demographic, has now become a very well-defined term that has a great deal of preconceptions attached to it. There is a lot of debate around which dates classify millennials but generally speaking, those born during the early 80’s to the early 2000’s fit the bill. Although the term millennial was coined in 1991, it only became mainstream in the last decade or so. Nowadays, the term is extensively used in both the media and popular culture alike.
Being typecast as a millennial is usually met with the same reaction, and that is denial and rejection. The reason behind this is probably closely linked to the fact that this generation in particular has taken an unusually large departure away from the previous generation, mostly in terms of its digital nativism. It is because of the generation’s affinity for technology that they’ve gotten a particularly bad rap as opposed to the generations that preceded them (Generation X and Baby Boomers). The millennials have therefore been made responsible for the current climate of change, especially amongst the world of technology.
One sector in particular that has changed dramatically due to the behavior of the millennials, is the retail sector. How millennials shop has changed the face of shopping hugely, with both physical shops as well as online retailers attempting to adapt their strategies accordingly.
A wealth of available information
One of the best things about the Digital Age is the amount of information that is available to the public. Whether you’re shopping for fashion items, furniture or perhaps even services, there is no shortage of reviews and comprehensive guides that compare goods, services and brands. If there’s one thing millennials do well, it’s sorting through excessive amounts of online resources and choosing one to trust or respect. Coping with perhaps an overwhelming amount of information before making a purchase, is something this generation does very well.
Online shopping has taken over. The majority of people opt to shop online in the comfort of their own home with their smartphone, rather than battling with queues and parking downtown. The millennial’s smartphone always has all the answers. This has transformed the ecommerce user experience into one that can be entirely conducted on just a small smartphone. Millennials tend to completely avoid any website that does not provide an intuitive and flawless user experience. With that in mind, ecommerce sites have come on in leaps and bounds. They provide online fitting rooms, instant customer support, a fast and easy delivery and return service, and even events that you can partake in digitally in order to reinforce the notion of community and network.
In the meantime, physical shops have had to up the ante. Physical shops have the benefit of being able to reach out to its customer base by with more than just expensive advertising campaigns but also with an attractive shopfront, friendly staff, and a nice environment that is rooted in the local community. The key behind any shop that’s popular amongst millennials, is a streamlined process of getting in there, finding what you want, and getting out. This needs to take the smallest amount of time possible and payment options need to be constantly updated to the latest technology – such as contactless payment methods via smartphones.
The social aspect
When it comes to the millennial’s shopping habits, there are a few things that both physical shops and online stores need to take note of. The average millennial seeks an authentic experience when shopping, which should be addressed in your shopfront and with your customer support services – regardless of whether you’re present digitally or physically. Another thing is the importance of social media – this provides you with a tool to reach out to your target market in a language that they understand, respect, and are surrounded by. Their sense of community is founded in their online behavior. Aside from selling the obvious, your product, you need to sell the ideal packaged life to them, but first you need to understand exactly what that is.
Companies of course tap into the power of social media in reaching their audience, with newer ways such as sponsored insta-stories and facebook playable ads increasing the presence of advertising in our social media feeds.
The millennials did not take long to realize the power of their own voice, and this is mostly due to their vast and international digital platform. Using social media as a soapbox, this generation is discovering just how easy it is to hold bigger businesses accountable for unethical activity. It is therefore natural to think that the millennial respects an ethical business that holds issues like the environment, sustainability, politics and racism in high regard. According to a survey undertaken by Nielsen, 55% of the participants were willing to pay extra for products or services provided by companies which are socially responsible – a large majority of this percentage identify as millennials.