Fact and Fiction of Millennial Shoppers

Lauren Krause
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Understanding the customer base is the first rule of marketing. Yet, many influential companies repeatedly fail to connect with the millennial generation because they develop marketing strategies based on negative misconceptions of modern shoppers. Marketers who unfairly label millennials as self-absorbed, stingy spenders with social media addictions miss out on opportunities to tap into the vast buying power of loyal customers who value innovation, product quality and social consciousness.

1. Millennials Only Care About Cost

The popularity of discount and group-sharing models, such as Groupon and Uber, feeds assumptions that the millennial generation is dominated by bargain hunters who always choose low cost over brand loyalty or quality. Marketers respond with gimmicks that don’t support sustainable business models and only attract shoppers for the duration of the promotion. While rushing to write off the 18- to 35-year-old demographic as cheap, marketers often forget that the millennial generation evolved into adulthood during a drastic economic downturn.

In a survey by market research group IRI, 52 percent of millennials considered quality a higher priority than price, but roughly two-thirds admitted that limited grocery budgets contributed to their value-conscious ideals. Millennials may enjoy the challenge of hunting for deals, but the underlying motivation is necessity, and they reserve higher budgets for brands that consistently offer high-value products.

2. Millennials Are Self-Absorbed

The individualistic and aggressive self-marketing of the social media age is largely to blame for the idea that the millennial generation is driven by narcissism. In reality, millennials are the most socially and environmentally conscious generation to date, consisting of racially diverse communities with greater numbers of educated adults and fewer traditionalists. The major difference from previous generations is that millennials often view customer engagement and social activism as important factors in a company’s brand value.

In the IRI survey, 68 percent of millennials equated success with working for a worthy cause. Similarly, the FutureCast American Millennials Report revealed that 37 percent of 4,259 participants prefer to purchase products that support a cause. Companies are more attractive to millennials when they design marketing strategies that demonstrate a commitment to community improvement rather than promoting pure capitalistic gain.

3. Millennials Are Chained to Digital Technology

Social media and mobile technology have undoubtedly changed the face of commerce, but the connectedness of the millennial generation gives companies of every size more opportunities to shine. The IRI survey reported that 29 percent of participants frequently make purchases through mobile apps. For businesses, this means sales occur at any time of the day without the need for dedicated staff or over-the-top marketing pitches.

Many companies misunderstand the value of social media and post content telling customers to buy products without offering compelling reasons. Trendy brands, such as Apple, inspire customers to spend more by pinpointing how a product fits into and benefits a millennial’s lifestyle. Millennials respond more enthusiastically to companies that creatively generate buzz by demonstrating why their products are superior. As a result, marketing campaigns go viral because customers do the job of spreading the word.

The millennial generation is shaped by a convenience-driven economy in which customers have greater control over product outcomes and small businesses are more equipped to compete. Companies with staying power continually evaluate the changing needs of customers who think deeply about purchases and reject products lacking tangible benefits.

Photo courtesy of scottchan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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