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Kristin Sprague

The Mystical Mythical Millennial

July 23, 2014

Moving past the misconceptions to make sales

Let me start off by saying I am not one, but I raised two of them and although I can't speak from a first-person perspective, I would say I can speak from a pretty dang close second-person one. Born between 1980 and 2000, the "Millennial" is perhaps the most talked about generation in retail today.

The Millennial generation makes up about a fourth of the population and is responsible for more than $600 billion in annual retail spending. Now as a parent to two of them at the later end of the range, I wonder if that $600 billion in spending is from their own bank accounts or through their influence in spending somebody else’s. Nevertheless, $600 billion is too large a number to ignore.

So for that reason alone, let’s try to clear away a couple of misconceptions about this generation. When getting down to the reality of the misconceptions, we realize this generation is more than the sum of their stereotypes. To better understand what makes this powerful group tick and spend, here are some takeaways to help us.

First Misconception: Millennials are stingy shoppers

Why this misconception may have come about: Shocking, this generation is connected. They are in your store, researching every aspect of your product down to the price, possibly somewhere else.

Reality: Millennials are strategic shoppers. They do enjoy being educated on their purchases and making sure they are taking advantage of the best deal, not being taken advantage of.

From a Millennial point of view: Most of the Millennial generation has entered the workforce during one of the most economically trialing periods in a few decades. Between the recession, high unemployment rates and student loan debt, they need to be a little smarter about how they buy.

Second Misconception: Millennials are Disloyal

Why This Misconception May Have Come About: The Millennials are the first generation raised in an Internet age; they can easily master digital platforms . Because of this, they have more emerging shopping habits than preceding generations; it does not make them disloyal it just makes them different.

Reality: With plentiful access to prices online, Millennials as a habit search for the best bang for their buck. They wish to obtain the best products at the best prices, and are willing to look for them.

From a Millennial Point of View: If you want a Millennial to be loyal, provide them a reason to be. Give them the best products, with discounts that appeal to them. Oh, and don’t forget excellent customer service. Millennials are a community generation. Give them a reason and they will support their community.

To further support why we should embrace the mystic Millennial generation, here are some key stats from a 2014 Merchant Warehouse and Retail Pro International Survey about them:

*   More than 90% of the Millennials in the survey said they prefer to buy in-store than online.

*   That same survey found that those who are 18-29 years old mostly shop in-store for apparel (73%), footwear (76%) and home goods (62%).

*    High-ticket items -This same group prefers to buy electronics online (approximately 84%), but elects to buy furniture (almost 81%) in a store.

*    The majority of Millennials prefer shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, partly because doing so provides instant gratification, but also because it provides an opportunity them to test the items themselves.

*    Almost 50% of survey respondents reported they'd be willing to go to a retailer location to use a coupon if it offered at least a 20% discount.

As this demographic becomes more and more prominent, retailers and manufacturers will grow to embrace their efficient (not stingy) and astute (not fickle) purchasing habits.

Sources: Accenture, Merchant Warehouse and Retail Pro International Survey, Millennial Rising, Neil Howe and William Strauss, Retail Touch Points Blog, Pew’s Social Trends