Retail trends move quickly. That’s never been truer than it is today, primarily due to constantly evolving technology and the demographic of shoppers using that technology the most – Millennials. The Millennial generation – adults born from the early 1980s and on – is the largest generation in US history and one that is quickly approaching its prime spending years. In fact, the National Retail Federation found that Millennials between the age of 25 and 34 were the biggest spenders during this year’s long Thanksgiving weekend.
What drives this generation’s buying behavior? They’re knowledgeable, well-informed consumers who want personalized, convenient, and authentic experiences. Meeting this demand will be the key to retail success.
Contrary to popular belief, Millennials do still shop in-store. However, they’re coming into the store after diligent online research, having checked product ratings, prices, and reviews. They expect in-store prices and promotions to match those available online. And they want their smartphone to be an integral part of the buying journey. An Accenture study found that when it comes to shopping, 68% of Millennials demand an integrated, seamless experience regardless of the channel.
Millennials have grown up with mobile technology and expect to be able to use it in all aspects of their life. That means being able to transition effortlessly from smartphone to computer to physical store in their quest for the best products and services. One way retailers can offer convenience is by improving the payment process through self-checkout kiosks, mobile wallet optimization, and advanced digital payment technologies.
The Millennial spender wants a customer-centric shopping experience – one tailored to his or her specific wants and needs. They’re receptive to loyalty programs and willing to share personal information, but expect targeted discounts and promotions in return for that loyalty. According to Accenture, 95% of Millennials want brands to actively court them. In order to do this, brands must leverage data and technology to drive personalization. Interacting with shoppers via their digital devices is key; mobile apps, beacons, and near field communication (NFC) are just three ways to create this kind of interaction.
The product or service itself is not enough to win over the Millennial. They want interactive and immersive shopping experiences. To meet this demand, retailers are experimenting with niche retail concepts such as revolving storefronts and pop-up stores and making use of touchscreen navigation kiosks, virtual fitting rooms, and augmented-reality. One brand that has done this successfully is Lululemon. The athleisure brand offers complimentary in-store fitness classes, creating a space that caters not just to their products, but also to social interaction and entertainment. If brands can give consumers an experience that can’t be gained through online shopping, it becomes a driving force for foot traffic.
The Millennial generation moves at a fast speed. They’re constantly adopting new trends and technology, and they expect the world around them to do the same. If retailers want to keep pace, they must figure out how to successfully deliver on shoppers’ expectations.