Are Retailers Reaching Millennial Shoppers?

image of millennialsStepping into the workforce on the heels of the Recession, Millennials purchase a brand’s image and social impact, not its product. Millennials are particular about how they learn about items, how they shop for them, and the relationships that they build with retailers, but consider the intangible gains of their buys just as heavily as the physical product. Often distrustful of big box stores, Gen Y prefers to keep businesses at arm’s length while giving retailers a run for their money. As the first generation of the new millennium, these 18- to 20-somethings are self-assured, liberal, and embracing of change, and retailers hoping to reach them are finding it necessary to use different tactics and take alternate routes.

The Particulars of Particular Shoppers

Millennials present a unique set of financial circumstances, according to the latest research. More of them are unemployed than any other age bracket, and according to PNC Financial Services, the average debt from credit cards and student loans tallies up to $45,000. Twelve percent of them have moved back in with their parents, but they spend eight percent more on apparel than shoppers ten years older. Those who are employed will spend on food, entertainment and clothing, but around 40 percent of them have no health insurance. With the financial data of the average Millennial’s pocket so unsettling for retailers, how are more and more Gen Y members grounding themselves in the commercial landscape? The answer is through social media and personalized interactions.

Averse to surveys and partial to social media, Millennials interact with retailers who are capable of maintaining an authentic conversation, and who make it a priority to freshen up their merchandise frequently. Members of this generation often become repeat shoppers of brands they enjoy, but also expect that they will be able to find new products on a regular basis. They prefer to hear about these items through word of mouth, from their friends, or by happenstance. If invited to engage in a conversation about their finds, they will do so on the condition that the conversation takes place on their terms, in their time. What this means for retailers is that the time has come to make what has been thought of as one of the least efficient marketing moves, which is to get personal with individual customers. Millennials’ trust can be earned through open and honest social media interaction, and through brand transparency. Retailers who embrace the communication style of Gen Y, especially those selling electronics and apparel, will feel the least resistance in reaching out to the newest breed of customer.