Marketing to Millenials at Retail

By Joe Holley
Frank Mayer & Associates, Inc.

millenials-retail-1014Millennials are as large a demographic group as their Baby Boomer parents and their presence is already felt at retail. Their power to purchase and influence is on the rise.

Despite having lived through the Great Recession and carrying an average of $25,000 in student loan debt, millennials’ $600 billion of spending is projected to increase to $1.4 trillion by 2020. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is naturally interested in this economically powerful group and concludes they will “completely upend many of the established businesses, methods, and processes that have defined the U.S. Public and private sectors for decades.”

This generation is moving at a pace that legacy retailers are hard-pressed to keep up with. The physical store is still the focus of the vast majority of sales, but there is a plodding but undeniable “any channel” transformation being influenced by millennials’ desire for shopping without boundaries.

Besides renovating disparate technology platforms, what are retailers doing to court this powerful, ascending generation? Their responses include changes to format, visual merchandising, product displays, digital signage, interactive shopping experiences, location-based mobile communication and targeted product offerings.

Take for example, Macy’s, which is incorporating many of these strategies. They’ve developed apps and installed Wi-Fi. They’re using Shopkick and testing iBeacon for location-based in-store offers. They’re integrating interactive technology into numerous departments to satisfy expectations for immediacy, access and engagement with fresh content. Localized product assortments catering to specific Millennial sub-segments are a part of their merchandising strategy. So committed to this target is Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren that he has breakfast monthly with a group of Millennial employees to get their feedback.

There are numerous other examples of retail transformation in our latest whitepaper Succeeding with millennials as well as a list of implications for marketing to millennials that emerge from vast amounts of research being conducted on them:

  • Embrace the multi-channel mindset by catering to expectations for relevancy and accessibility that are rooted in online experience.
  • Create store environments that merge physical and digital elements.
  • Create environments that are vibrant and dynamic.
  • Balance deal-oriented incentives with exceptional experiences in order to win hearts and pocketbooks.
  • Develop marketing and merchandising plans that incorporate multi-directional engagement.
  • Incorporate opportunities for validating purchase decisions through peers and ratings/reviews.

I’m sure you have others to add.

This column was reprinted with permission from the Digital Screenmedia Association and originally appeared here.

Image via Industry Weapon