For years, you have probably heard talk about Baby Boomers and Generation X, but now a new cohort is rising up and taking precedence. Ranging in age from 18 to 35, they are called Millennials, and their present and future influence cannot be ignored.
The Hard Facts about Millennials
Millennials number 77 million – over a quarter of the U.S. population – and they are beginning to speak with their wallets. It is estimated that they possess a staggering $1.3 billion in buying power.
The compelling thing about the millennial generation is not so much based on what they have to spend but in the ways they go about doing their shopping. Millennials are virtually attached to their mobile devices around the clock and use them to make mobile purchases. In fact, 87 percent of millennials use two or three mobile devices each day, and 85 percent own a smartphone – a figure that is sure to continue to rise. It should come as no surprise that their absorption in technology affects their retail behaviors.
Today, smartphones are infinitely versatile and constantly evolving. Making calls is just one very small part of what they do. Millennials tend to use them to interact with social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. During the average of 45 times per day that they employ their smartphones, 83 percent of millennials who are in the market for products and services connect to social media sites.
And it’s no wonder. Venues such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are brimming with retailers who want nothing more than to have ongoing dialogues with their customers, who frequently serve as willing word-of-mouth ambassadors for the retailers they like. Whether they are taking selfies with a branded product, liking a retailer’s page or submitting a review, social media users are actively spreading the word and influencing their own friends and followers to buy. It should come as no surprise that members of the millennial generation would be willing to embrace a shopping app if it were easier to use than a mobile website. Over a quarter of millennials would try such an app if they were rewarded with discounts and other promotions.
Keeping up with Millennial Shopping Trends
The days of paper and radio advertising are fading. While they have not totally lost their relevance, they must also be supplemented with more modern retail approaches. Those business owners who cling to the past without adapting to today’s trends will find themselves lagging behind their rivals.
As an entrepreneur who is eager to connect with younger shoppers, it is vital to gain an understanding of what makes millennials tick. Some of their priorities might surprise you:
- A full 75 percent of millennials would only buy a brand if they knew the company gave something back to their communities. This flies in the face of a long-held myth that states today’s youth are only interested in themselves and their own needs.
- Their community-centered attitude comes, at least in part, from the fact that young people have had enough of corporate greed. Having lived through the damaging recession of 2008 as well as the Occupy Wall Street movement, they have a keen understanding of the disparity between the super-wealthy and common people such as themselves.
- The advertisements that influence millennials match today’s emphasis on technology. Fifty-two percent say that they are influenced to buy products based on a relevant advertisement that they saw on social media.
- Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are not the only modern vehicles that influence this generation. Thirty-three percent were persuaded to make a purchase after reading a blog post.
- Only 3 percent say they are influenced to make a purchase by traditional advertising vehicles such as TV, magazines, books and radio. Keep that in mind when you are planning your next marketing campaign.
How to Market to Millennials
If old-school ads aren’t working, how can you make your products and services known to today’s young shoppers?
- Remember that technology has also changed how people, particularly millennials, pay for their purchases. Eighty-seven percent of millennials use a digital wallet to cash out. If you’re unfamiliar with this term, it refers to applications in smartphones and tablets that store a person’s credit card, gift card and customer loyalty information securely. When it comes time to pay, a customer simply uses her device to make the payment, using the card information that has been pre-stored. Apple Pay, Google Wallet and PayPal are just three of many digital wallet options that you as a business owner can easily integrate into your point-of-sale (POS) system. If you’re unsure how to upgrade, simply contact your merchant account provider.
- Considering that 59 percent of millennials look further into a store or brand after seeing an ad on social media, doesn’t that inspire you to make Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other sites like them a part of your next marketing campaign?
- When creating sales materials, keep in mind that many people will be accessing your website to learn more. Increasingly, they will be using not a traditional desktop or laptop PC but their tablet or mobile phone. For that reason, it is essential that your site is optimized for mobile devices. A quick Google search will provide you with all you need to know about how to make this happen. If it’s something you would rather leave to the professionals, there are plenty of consultants out there who would be happy to take on this task for a fee.
When you want to get the word out about who you are and what you do, it’s a numbers game. If more potential customers see information about you, more will walk into your store or click on your website. Use all of the modern tools available, and you will be sure to attract a dynamic wave of millennial shoppers who can form the foundation of your customer base for years to come.