Why Millennials Matter to Retailers
Digitally connected, frequently distracted, and impervious to mass marketing techniques, millennials have certainly given retail executives and marketers a run for their money. Long gone are the days of simple batch-and-blast emails or in-store promotions to garner significant return on investment. Today, it’s about the integration of both the physical with the digital, so the need for a strong, well-executed and cohesive omnichannel presence beyond online — plus strategic, personalized customer messaging — is at an all-time high.
The continued transformation of the retail industry through increased digital and online shopping preferences has caused many retailers to shift their omnichannel marketing efforts to focus solely on the online shopper, especially for these younger, notoriously tech-savvy millennials. While mobile traffic might be rising, we’ve found that brick-and-mortar is actually not totally lost on 18-to-34 year olds. In fact, according to our recent survey, “Millennials: Where they shop, how they shop, why it matters,” traditional retail is alive and well with millennials, with 50 percent preferring to shop primarily in-store. Yes, you read that correctly … 50 percent prefer to shop in a physical store. Interestingly, millennials aren’t just using the store as a showroom to which they then buy online once they leave. Fifty percent of the millennials we surveyed actually complete the transaction in-store. Therefore, some retailers may be missing the mark in truly engaging this influential group through online-only methods.
The following are several other preferences and key millennial characteristics retail executives and marketers should keep in mind when targeting this demographic:
- Security isn't a total concern. Security may be a concern with older shoppers, but 70 percent of millennials said they're actually comfortable with retailers tracking their purchasing and browsing behaviors if it means they’ll receive more relevant communications.
- Millennials are distracted. Ninety-five percent of this demographic are doing other things while shopping, including working, watching TV, talking to friends, etc. Real-time, personalized communications can break through the distractions.
- Don’t bombard millennials with marketing tactics. Seventy-four percent of millennials said they're frustrated with too many marketing communications, and the majority prefers one to three marketing emails per month. Quality not quantity (i.e., relevant and timely content and offers) will make those emails truly count.
- Brand loyalty is limited. Only 6.5 percent of millennial respondents considered themselves brand loyal, however, those who prefer personalized communications have a 28 percent higher brand loyalty than those who do not.
- Personalized emails trump batch and blast. Seventy percent of millennials are frustrated by brands sending irrelevant emails, and prefer to receive personalized emails offering certain info like sale notifications for previously carted items, sale notifications for previously browsed items or categories, and recommended products based on their interests.
At 80 million strong, millennials wield enormous spending power and will continue to hold significant influence on the way brands engage with them. In order to get their attention and gain their loyalty, one thing is clear: Retailers must go above and beyond the traditional shopper experience and create personalized, unique experiences that keep millennial shoppers coming back.
Michael Osborne is the CEO of SmarterHQ, a multichannel behavioral marketing platform provider.
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