One cannot overstate the importance of millennials to the modern economy. Defined as those born since 1985, there are roughly 100 million millennials in the United States who are currently active in the market. These individuals have a combined $200 billion in annual purchasing power - a sum that will only grow as they increase their presence in the workforce over the next decade. Retailers cannot afford to ignore such a large demographic group. To appeal and sell to millennials, omni-directional retailers must demonstrate that they are:
Millennials have long demonstrated that they are no longer willing to be passive consumers. In addition to looking for low prices and quality products, this new generation of shoppers also wants its brands to take care of the environment, help the poor, and avoid discrimination. Over 90% of millennials say they are willing to change brands based on these causes. Not only are they more likely to buy socially responsible products, but many millennials are willing to pay higher prices to responsible companies. Establishing a reputation as a benevolent, caring part of the community is thus one of the best investments that a retailer can make.
Retailers can establish a positive social reputation in a variety of direct and indirect ways. To demonstrate their commitment to equality and diversity, they should maintain a diverse workforce and include people of all ethnicities, genders, religions, abilities, and other identities in their ads. They can also provide promotional materials in as many languages as possible, demonstrating that they will accommodate customers of all backgrounds. To show their concern for the earth, retailers can incorporate environmental topics into their content marketing, subtly indicating that their products are more eco-friendly than the alternative. When used in tandem, these strategies will bring in more foot traffic and create a loyal customer base.
Millennials are an empirical generation. Roughly 85% report that they research companies' products before making a purchase, and many perform this research on their phones while shopping. The most successful retailers are those who offer comprehensive product descriptions and relevant content on their website. By accessing that content and applying it to their purchases in real time, millennials will enjoy a seamless shopping experience.
To take this shopping experience to the next level, retailers should practice “reverse showrooming.” Showrooming is when a person shops in a store to find the item but buys it online. The smart retailers are creating a more unified omnichannel experience by offering delivery in the store of the purchases made online or matching prices in real time from customers who are showrooming online sites.
Prudent with Promotions
Millennials benefit from coupons at least as much as any other demographic group, but they are no longer content to clip them out of magazines. Instead, many have turned to their smartphones and tablets, using them to find coupons online while they are out shopping. The most successful retailers are those who take advantage of this trend, offering discounts on a daily basis that customers can access on their websites. More than 50% of millennials say that if offered a 20% discount or more, they would not only visit the retailer's website but would even be willing to visit the physical store.
The most advanced retailers are using the data that they have on consumers to take this discounting to a higher level. Discounts and coupons can be customized for cross-selling, abandoned carts or even smart, deep learning on what similar customers have bought on discount. In the end, if a coupon is not creepy and is well targeted, it will have a better conversion rate. This is another way to create connections between the online and offline channels.
Sagacious about Social Media
Few retailers now make the mistake of not having a presence on Facebook and Twitter, but simply existing on social media is not enough to win over millennials. In addition to placing promotions and product information on their social media channels, retailers must create an ongoing dialog with customers. In the most successful campaigns on YouTube and Facebook, for example, retailers responded to customers' questions in the comment section. This made customers feel valued and convinced many to buy. Empathy is the key to these interactions - treat each as an individual.
Social media also provides a venue for omnichannel marketers to control how customers see them. Retailers can take advantage of millennials' research habits by regularly posting other sites reviews and similar content about their hottest items on social media sites. Having special “early news” in social media can also be helpful to build product buzz. This strategy ensures that the first information a customer receives about a product comes from the retailer itself, making the customer more likely to take the retailer's point of view.
Committed to Customer Control
Millennials do not want retailers to sell passively to them. The new generation wants a chance to participate directly in the design and production process. The most successful clothing retailers, for example, allow customers to design their individualized clothes through programs on their websites. Not only does this send the message that the retailer cares about its patrons, but by incorporating them into the creative process, it gives customers a sense of self and accomplishment.
Besides individual custom designs, retailers can also empower millennial customers on a collective level. If a clothing retailer is trying to decide between some possible new wares, it can host a poll on its website or on social media asking customers which product they would prefer. Adopting the most popular choice will give the company a populist, democratic appeal.
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