What Millennials Want From Retail

Mastering the millennial mindset is a retail marketer’s dream.

The largest generation in history, Millennials represent 92 million U.S. consumers in their prime spending years, controlling more than $600 billion in annual purchasing power.1 2 These tech-savvy, assertive shoppers represent such an influential and lucrative cohort that are forcing the retail and CPG industries to understand and adapt to their needs.

As 18- to 35-year-olds, Millennials span different stages of life; they range from college students to married couples with children, with different needs at each stage. Paradoxically, while clear trends for these stages exist, Millennials demand to be seen as unique individuals rather than a homogeneous group of consumers.

To help your company attract Millennial consumers (as well as the major retailers who target this desirable group), here are five important things to consider for your marketing strategy.

How to Win With Millennials

1. Show innovation:
The fantastic news for creative CPG manufacturers is that 81% of Millennials are willing to pay more for innovative new products, and 66% of Millennials purchased a new product on their last grocery shopping trip.3 Since Millennials are open minded and willing to try new items, show them how your products are refreshingly distinct from everything else on the shelf.

2. Demonstrate corporate social responsibility:
Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Millennials are willing to pay more for sustainable brands, and 51% check the packaging labels to ensure positive social and environmental impact.4 To reflect Millennial consumers’ values, consider aligning your brand with a relevant social or environmental cause.

3. Share product information:
Millennials are always connected, with 92% owning a smartphone.5 They expect a seamless omnichannel shopping experience and they proactively research products online. More than half (57%) compare prices while shopping in store.6 To deepen brand trust and boost consumer confidence in your products, make your product information easily available online and allow shoppers to review and rate your company and products.

4. Make your marketing transparent:
Nearly 90% of Millennials use social media and 83% of Millennials want to see the behind-the-scenes story of your product.7 8 Since Millennials value handmade and locally produced goods, they desire transparency across your supply chain. Demonstrate transparency and authenticity across your in-store, digital and social media marketing by sharing the story, history and heritage of your products.

5. Invest in influencers (not ads): Millennials actively avoid advertising, as 63% use an ad blocker on their desktop, mobile phone or both. This trend is expected to continue, as experts say the number of Americans of all ages using ad blockers will increase by 24% to 87 million in 2017.9 Instead, allocate resources toward influencer marketing, as “Millennials are inspired by people they can relate to – especially other Millennials.”10

Food and Beverage Considerations

Millennials are shaking up grocery in particular. These discerning shoppers “are more likely than any other generation to … look for organic and fair-trade certifications, and to find out where a product was sourced and manufactured and how it was grown or raised.”11

To win the hearts and minds (and wallets) of Millennial consumers, reflect their mindset by showing how your company is innovative, ethical and transparent. Health and wellness represent a core value for Millennials, as 81% are willing to pay more for foods with health benefits, 80% look at a food’s nutritional content and 78% look at the ingredient listing.12

To reflect Millennials’ active lifestyle, convenient and portable foods are in demand, as 44% of Millennials eat snacks as a meal replacement and 16% eat most of their meals on the go or with friends.13

Among Millennial mothers who are starved for time as well as nourishment, “convenience in saving time and energy is one of the key drivers for Millennials with children while preparing food.”14

Category-Specific Considerations

Even beyond the grocery category, Millennials are catalysts for change.

    • Beauty and personal care products: Millennials seek products that deliver immediate results, such as makeup or beauty masks, rather than investing in products like premium skin creams that protect their appearance for decades to come.15 Show how your product can help Millennials look and feel confident and radiant the next time they take a selfie.
    • Baby and children’s products: More than 22 million Millennial parents in the U.S. bring about 9,000 babies into the world each day, and exactly half of them have purposefully bought gender-neutral toys for their children.16 In your marketing, show how your baby and children’s products could suit both boys and girls.
    • Pet products: The $63 billion pet industry has grown three-fold since 1996, as pets have taken the place of children for many Millennials who tend to marry and become parents later in life. Significantly, 75% of Americans in their 30s have dogs, 51% have cats and 76% said they are more likely to “splurge” on their pets than on themselves. In response, show how your premium products would pamper Millennials’ beloved pets.

To win the hearts and minds (and wallets) of Millennial consumers, reflect their mindset by showing how your company is innovative, ethical and transparent. Willingly share your product information and reviews, and consider investing in influencers rather than ads to attract these tech-savvy shoppers who seek authentic, relatable brands.

How does your company appeal to Millennials?

(Originally posted on RangeMe.com.)

Lisa GollerLisa Goller is a marketing and communications professional with over 15 years of experience serving B2B, technology and retail companies. She helps businesses tell their story through irresistible content marketing and strategic communications.

1. Millennials Coming of Age. Goldman Sachs. 2015.
2, 11. Everything Guide to Millennials. Vision Critical. 2016.
3, 4, 7, 12, 13. Nielsen. Global Millennials: The we, more and now generation. 2016.
5. Nielsen. Millennials in 2015: Retail Deep Dive. 2015.
6. Millennials Coming of Age. Goldman Sachs. 2015.
8, 16. Steinmetz, Katy. Help! My Parents are Millennials. TIME. October 26, 2015.
9. Most Millennials Have Installed Ad Blockers. eMarketer. October 13, 2016.
10. Hyder, Shama. Millennials and Shopping: How Retailers Are Missing The Mark. Forbes. August 2, 2016.
14. Fromm, Jeff. Brands Connecting With Millennial Moms Capitalize On Healthy Food Trends, Convenience And Community. Forbes. October 1, 2015.
15. Terlep, Sharon. Millennials Change the Complexion of the Beauty Business. The Wall Street Journal. May 3, 2016.

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