Modern Millennials are as diverse as they are numerous. They are the social trendsetters and influencers that shape the direction of culture and technology. The success with which brands can inspire their Millennial audience inevitably has a long-lasting impact on ROI. In this demographic guide, we’ll provide you with the most important trends and insights surrounding this complicated consumer group, so that you can converse freely and easily with the people that stand to impact your bottom-line most of all.
Facts on Millennial Shoppers
Before we get into our trends on Millennials, let’s explore some key facts that will help put them into context. First things is first; they are not “too cool” for shopping. In fact, they wield considerable shopping influence. They are the largest, most diverse generation in the U.S.: as of 2017, they constitute 77 million people or 25% of the population. They possess $200B, collectively, in annual spending power. As can be expected, they are powered by technology, and are especially inseparable from their mobile devices; nearly four in ten Millennials say they interact more with their smartphones than they do with their significant others, parents, friends, children or co-workers.
When it comes time for Millennials to make purchases in a retail environment, the following are some idiosyncrasies that brands should look out for.
The type of shopping environment plays a key role; Here are some of the preferred Millennial shopping hotspots
- 91% Discount department stores
- 74% Neighborhood and community shopping centers
- 64% Enclosed malls
- 64% Department stores
- 54% Neighborhood business districts
- 63% Big box power centers
- 53% Chain apparel stores
In-store shopping is greatly influenced by Millennial mobile users, with over half – 52% comparing prices to other retailers.
21% of older Millennials (25-34) use their mobile device to make at least one purchase a week.
An impressive 88% of Millennials say they would consider buying online and picking up in store to save if offered a rebate or coupon.
Millennials are 13% more likely to go shopping just for fun.
Our thoughts: The sheer propensity for Millennial shopping can surprise some, especially when it comes to their brick-and-mortar preferences. They’re as enthusiastic as ever about these channels, with no evidence of slowing down their spending. What else do brands & agencies need to know about Millennials to ensure they’re communicating with them as organically as possible? Consider the following three trends that highlight the most pressing insights that encompass this rapidly evolving demographic:
TREND #1: MILLENNIAL SUB-GROUPS ARE FRAGMENTING
- 33% of U.S. Millennials speak a language other than English at home
- $33,883 is the median income for full-time working Millennials
- 25% have a minimum of a four-year college degree
In fact, the majority of marketing research studies lump Millennials into a broad group based on age alone for efficiency of data gathering. However, Millennials are a diverse and multicultural group of people with many different backgrounds and behaviors, with subdivisions along countless variables such as age, gender, ethnicity, environments, and psychologies. Here is our handy “who’s who” snapshot of some of the key Millennial sub-categories, and some key differentiators that make them tick.
1. MILLENNIAL MOMS
- U.S. population of roughly 9MM and counting
- An overlooked segment of the mom demographic: 42% feel that marketing is not geared toward them
- Highly connected – each having an average of 3.4 social network accounts, compared to 2.6 the average mom has
- Spend 17.4 hours per week on those sites, almost 4 hrs more than the average mom
- 74% say those in their networks regularly seek their opinions on purchasing decisions
2. MILLENNIAL MALES
- 68% of men who plan on shopping on Black Friday or Cyber Monday have a specific budget in mind, versus 55% of women
- Millennial males (when compared to other age groups) are 161% more likely to be visiting the grocery store at least four times a week
- More likely to camp outside stores before they open – 56% said that they do so, versus 29% of female shoppers
- They spend double the amount on apparel than other men do
3. YOUNGER VS. OLDER MILLENNIALS
- Millennials old and young are equally likely to browse and buy in-store
- Younger Millennials are more likely than older Millennials to browse and buy online
- Older Millennials are more likely than younger Millennials to be a member of a retailer’s loyalty program
- Older Millennials are more likely to download an app to browse or shop compared to younger Millennials
Our thoughts: The diversity of the Millennial demographic means that brand marketing needs to be hyper focused. Simply “targeting Millennials” is no longer enough; brands need to understand specic categories of Millennials and have the right rewards, loyalty strategies, and communications to activate them based on deep insights.
TREND #2: MILLENNIALS CAN BE FIERCELY LOYAL
The concept of “long-term commitment” is not one that many people associate with the Millennial generation. Oftentimes, Millennials are perceived as being notoriously fickle, with a cultural emphasis on short-term gains and satisfaction. It might come as a surprise to learn that under the right set of circumstances, Millennials can become fiercely devoted to the things and ideas they connect with. The impact for brands is clear; earning Millennial loyalty is a challenge that needs to be addressed from the onset of a loyalty initiative.
- 86% join loyalty programs
- Top reasons Millennials sign up for programs? 51% – How quickly they can accrue rewards, 38% – The variety of rewards available
- 45.1% use coupons and loyalty points specically to save money
- 80% find points or rewards for purchases made in-store, on a website or mobile device appealing made in-store, on a website or mobile device appealing: 81% – the ability to choose among several types of rewards. 81% – opportunities to earn bonuses by doing some specied activity
- 4% drop in the use of plastic membership cards
- Look for digital opportunities to engage with programs
- 33% say they dislike loyalty programs because there are too many cards to carry
- 72% reward “ethical businesses” with their loyalty
- 27% continued participation in a loyalty program because it featured a competitive game, or a social element such as badges, leaderboards or communities
Our thoughts: Loyalty for Millennials is rapidly moving past more traditional, outdated models. Hoping to catch Millennial interest with loyalty cards or simplistic points-based, cash discount reward incentives is futile. Millennials need to be engaged organically, with multiple brand touchpoints across the entire program that are tailored to specic lifestyle factors.
TREND #3: SOCIAL AND UGC CONTENT IS EVERYTHING
Millennials spend more time online than they do face to face with their friends. They are true digital natives, consuming and creating every kind of content imaginable; if it can be accessed from a smartphone, there will be a Millennial market for it somewhere online. If brands are lacking in their online presence, they will struggle to hold the interest of this audience. However, brands are challenged with keeping their focus when it comes to engaging Millennials through digital channels such as social networks. Let’s take a look at some of the learnings and research surrounding the exact state of Millennial digital social behaviors:
- Millennials are now watching more video content on YouTube and other streaming platforms than they are on TV, and 68% of U.S. marketers plan to increase their digital video budgets for this reason
- 89% trust recommendations from friends and family more than claims by the brand
- Nearly half (44%) are willing to promote products or services through social media in exchange for rewards
- 84% report that user generated content on company websites influences what they buy
- 86% believe that UGC is a good indicator of a brand or product’s quality
- 25% of search results for the world’s 20 largest brands are links to user created content
Our thoughts: Engaging Millennials with social and user generated content can be tricky. The best strategy is to encourage organic virality that taps into Millennial core lifestyle needs and wants, but it can also be effective to move the conversation along. This can be done by adopting more traditional promotional tactics, such as encouraging rewards for social sharing. User generated content is king; brands can tap into the power of content with tactics like recipe contests, photo challenges, or video creation.
THEY ARE… Spenders. Diverse. Create their own experiences. And have an aptitude for technology.
Millennials are one of the most challenging consumer demographics to market to, and they’re one of the most important for many brands and agencies. To conclude this guide on Millennials, here is a checklist to make sure that you’re making the most of your Millennial marketing.
DON’T MISS OUT ON IN-STORE: Yes, Millennials still visit actual brick-and-mortar retailers, and they do so with enthusiasm. Make sure your in-store marketing stays relevant to them; this means digital engagement and creative that speaks their language.
RAMP UP YOUR HYPER-TARGETING: There is a growing body of research that shows the diversity of Millennials. To gain the best traction with your marketing investments, speak to the people within the Millennial label; what are their behaviors, needs & wants, and unique idiosyncrasies?
LIFESTYLE DOESN’T LIE: Perhaps the area of greatest pride for Millennials is their lifestyle; how they spend their free time can be the biggest inuencer of all. Looking for an easy way to incentivize their purchase behavior? Offer them rewards that resonate; music, movies, and digital offerings that drip with pop culture appeal will be sure to grab their attention and spark an attraction to your brand.
BURST THE BUBBLE: Millennials don’t live in bubbles, so you denitely need to stop thinking of them and them alone. Many of them now have children, or share their lives with other significant demographics such as baby boomers. Think about these other demographics, and the ways you can target them vicariously through Millennials. For example, a back-to-school program needs to be focused on children, but it will often be Millennials making the actual purchase decision. Understand this dynamic and tailor your marketing to address these challenges.