Marketing to millennials has been on the mind of marketers for some time now. Reaching this group has been a challenge for many brands. Millennials are now the largest and most diverse generation in the US. 2017 is now deemed the year of the millennial and many experts predicted that by 2017 Millennials would become the target consumer to go after, with this generation spending a projected $200 billion each year.
According to new research by eMarketer, “Millennials as a whole all grew up with the internet—the first generation to do so—which has influenced the way they shop.” Key insights from the report include:
- US millennials prefer digital shopping, even while in a physical store, and they tend to be the earliest adopters of the latest media and digital shopping tools.
- Although the average debt burden on millennials is often exaggerated, many do face monthly payments. Some 37% of millennials have never had a student loan, compared with 64% of baby boomers. This economic burden, along with entering adulthood during the Great Recession, has made them a cost-conscious generation.
- Millennials and Gen Xers are similar in their likelihood to buy online—more than 90% of internet users in both age groups have made a digital purchase in the past year. But millennials are more likely to research products or make a purchase via their smartphone.
- Millennials’ comfort with mobile shopping extends to stores, where they are avid omnichannel shoppers. Nearly all have researched products online before buying in-store.
- Despite a strong presence on social platforms, millennials still respond well to email marketing, as over half list email as the primary influence to make a purchase from a retailer website.
Here are 6 trends and insights into the shopping behavior of millennials to better inform your marketing strategies.
Social Media is King
Social media is the number one source millennials use for shopping research. Research by Blackhawk Network asked millennials how they learn about products, special sales, and shopping news. 55% listed social media as their number one source, followed by Google (45%), and Amazon (39%).
- When asked why they follow brands on social media, 54% stated to learn about values and savings, 32% for news and trends, and 15% for promotional sweepstakes. With the high influence social media has on millennials and how they engage with brands, marketers must get hyper-focused on building out their social media strategies to capture the attention of this audience.
Digital Payment Methods
The research by Blackhawk Network also examined how millennials prefer to pay when shopping online. Millennials find safety and flexibility in gift cards with 66% of respondents stating that they believe gift cards help limit fraud and identity theft and 64% stating that they believe gift cards are safer online than any other form of digital payment.
Their preferred method of payment by an overwhelming majority is PayPal (79%).
Brands would do well to offer alternative ways for paying when shopping online with PayPal being a must-have.
Price is the number one influence on millennials purchase decisions, followed by quality and brands. 95% stated that they are as or more sensitive to price this year compared to last year. When appealing to price-conscious millennials, consider offering rebates over direct discounts. Millennials would much prefer rebates over discounts. Take a look at how this compares across categories:
Buy Online and Pick up in Store
Millennials crave immediacy and the option to buy online and pick up in store is very appealing to this generation. 88% of respondents said they would consider buying online and picking up in-store to save $10 on a $50 item. In fact, 55% have used already purchased online and picked up in-store within the past six months.
Offer a Loyalty Program
Despite the claims that millennials have no brand loyalty, 69% belong to a retail loyalty program. When asked how they prefer to read and receive loyalty program information, the majority (76%) preferred email.
Grab Their Attention Through Email
The top reasons this generation signs up to receive brand emails is to receive discounts, get product and service updates, and because they simply love the brand.
Despite their preference in email as a communication channel, nearly 60% feel they get too many promotional emails. As with all generations, be sure to personalize your communications and focus on design elements that will appeal to this age group. For example, many marketers are using emojis in subject lines to grab attention. This generation is highly visual, so emails must include more imagery and less copy. And be sure that every email communication you send out is optimized for mobile since this is the most likely way in which this group will be engaging with your email campaigns.
Millennials are ready to spend money and to be loyal to your brand – if you step up to the plate and take the time to understand them and communicate with them according to their values and preferences.