As a local retailer, you have the distinct advantage of personally knowing your customers better than any large retailer ever could. And there’s no doubt that your personal familiarity with shoppers and your town are reflected in the in-store experience. But, when it comes to marketing outside of your store, there are different strategies you can employ to make sure you’re getting the most effective message to your audience through a medium that really resonates. Read on to get a deeper understanding of how to reach different audiences and what types of messages they best respond to.
Defining Generation Z
Generation Z is one of the youngest consumer groups, comprising those born between the years 1995 – 2010. That means the oldest of the Gen Z group have graduated from college and are even a few years into the adult workforce. Though this group is so young, they already have over $44 billion in buying power. Overall, Gen Z is on track to be larger than the Millennial generation both in terms of buying power and population.
Gen Z’s Shopping Journey
Gen Z’s path to purchase is anything but linear. For many customers, the shopping journey starts online. 85% of Gen Z uses social media to learn about new products. But, and perhaps surprisingly, as a whole, younger consumers prefer to make their purchases in-store. 77% of Gen Z prefer to shop in-store. So shoppers discover products they like and want to purchase online, but then visit the store to actually complete the purchase.
How to Reach Gen Z
So, if you are looking to reach customers in their teens and 20s, sounds like a no-brainer, but being online is the best place to start. 96% of Gen Z own smartphones, and almost 50% of Gen Z are online more than 10 hours per day. Luckily, since Gen Z is often actively searching for products online or watching out for up-and-coming trends, they are open and willing to try new brands. You just have to make yourself visible.
The easiest way to do this is through Instagram, the social media platform that is most popular with Gen Z in the U.S. Unlike Facebook, which tends to hide posts from brands, Instagram is very friendly towards retailers and even helps place your company in front of shoppers in their discover and shopping tags. Plus, you can sell products directly through Instagram posts. But, since we know Gen Z loves to make their final purchase in-store, Instagram is a great tool for promoting events, sales, and new product arrivals.
When Gen Z discovers a brand or product on social media, it’s also often because their friends are posting about it or engaging with posts from the brand. These peer endorsements can be just as powerful as a word of mouth recommendation.
When it comes to your website, it’s also important to include reviews, recommendations, or endorsements for your products. Shoppers don’t believe what you say about your products, they trust what other people say about their products. Gen Z is no exception, but instead of asking a friend they’ll start by looking online.
An easy way to incorporate shopper feedback to your website is through your Instagram feed or hashtag. Most ecommerce platforms and even WordPress have plugins for incorporating photos from a specific feed or hashtag into your site. Encourage customers to share their purchases and experiences with the hashtag, that way other shoppers can see what people are buying, how they are using them, and what products are popular. It’s a great way to incorporate feedback and build engagement all at once.
Millennials are defined as those born between 1980 – 1995. In a lot of media content Millennials are often still depicted as college-aged kids. But, current college students are members of Gen Z; the youngest Millennials are actually 25, and the oldest are 39.
One in four Millennials are parents, and 53% of Millennial households have children. In terms of population size, Millennials are one of the biggest groups, with 80 million Millennials in the U.S. The group has a total of $200 billion in buying power and makes up 21% of all discretionary purchases. Despite entering prime spending years of their 30s and 40s, Millennials also carry $1 trillion in student loan debt, which can affect spending and consumer confidence.
Millennial Path to Purchase
When it comes to Millennials, convenience is king. Mobile technology is critical for this group as is being able to seamlessly use multiple devices across the purchasing path. Starbucks and their mobile ordering app is a prime example of the type of convenience Millennials are looking for.
Of course, shipping or getting the product has to be easy. Most of us think of Amazon 2-day or now 2-hour Prime Now when we hear think free and fast product delivery. But many independent brick and mortar stores do really well with this group by doing pick-up orders.
Taking orders over the phone and having them wrapped up, ready to go when a customer swings by to pick it up is a great example of being the most convenient retail option — best of all it doesn’t require any major investments or operational changes to implement.
Other indie retailers let customers text in orders or product inquiries. Customers will text with store associates to see if they have certain products available or to pull certain items aside from them. Many shoppers, and especially Millennials, prefer messaging over phone calls, so offering this solution is another way of making your store a stand-out convenient option.
How to Reach Millennials
Instagram may be the best way to reach Gen Z, but for Millennials, good old email marketing is the most effective way of engaging this group. 63% of Millennials cite email as their preferred communication channel with brands. 71% of Millennials will take action form an email containing their preferred marketing content, like discounts and promotions. A majority of Millennials will also pull up their email when browsing in-store to pull up coupons.
Defining Gen X
Members of Gen X are those born between 1965 – 1980. This is the smallest generation of the bunch in terms of population size. But, for retailers, they are mighty. Gen X makes up less than 25% of the population but 31% of total US income. They outspend all other generation on housing, clothing, eating out, and entertainment. Overall, Gen X is similar to Millennials in terms of purchasing preferences, but with less student loan debt and more purchasing power.
What Messages Resonate with Gen X?
Gen X is all about family and saving. 75% of Gen X help their parents financially. At the same time, 52% support their adult children. The majority of Gen X are parents, 10% are grandparents, and the group as a whole tends to be very family oriented.
Gen X was just gaining momentum in their careers when the Great Recession Hit. So, while this group has a lot of spending power, they also focus on saving and smart investments. So, when it comes to marketing to this age group, coupons and discounts are the most straightforward way to appeal to this group. High-quality products are also appealing, as they are seen as an investment.
When it comes to Gen X communication and shopping preferences, they are similar to Millennials. Gen X also strongly prefers email marketing from brands above other communication channels. Since Gen X is busy with careers and taking care of family, they are strapped for time and value conveniences. Curbside pickup or the ability to text or call in purchases ahead of time can make a big difference with this group.
Defining Baby Boomers
The Baby Boomer generation is comprised of those born between 1946 – 1964. This demographic accounts for more than half of all consumer expenditures, and they control 70% of all disposable income in the U.S. Boomers are set to inherit an additional billions over the next 20 years.
Baby Boomers have the most disposable income of any generation by a longshot. As a result, they outspend other adults online two-to-one. When it comes to spending time online, Facebook is the preferred medium for many Baby Boomers. More than 83% of Boomers belong to at least one social media site, with Facebook being the most popular. Over 15% of them spend more than 11 hours a week on Facebook.
So, if you’re looking to reach this group, Facebook is the best place to reach this audience. Some retailers specifically use Facebook to target this audience with themed posts such as “Giveaway Wednesdays.” Shoppers tag a friend and share the post for a chance to win a giftcard or a sample of a new product. For even just a few dollars, you can boost a post on Facebook to reach a wider audience. Boomers are the most likely to participate and share on Facebook, so this is a really effective way of engaging this group on a dime.
Marketing to Baby Boomers
As a whole, I highly recommend creating content and marketing materials specifically with this demographic in mind. Even though Boomers control over 70% of all U.S. disposable income, only 10% of marketing dollars target consumers over 50. So, making an active effort to reach this group is half the battle.
As a local retailer, your customers are likely a blend of every generation with a variety of interests and shopping preferences. It’s important to recognize all of your different kinds of shoppers, and offer the type of communication, engagement, and purchasing paths that they each prefer. It’s likely you’re already using a blend of Facebook, email, and Instagram marketing. Now take it a step further by envisioning which of your customer segments are most likely to be on the receiving end of each. Having a better understanding of the generational context of your shoppers including their path to purchase, interests and purchasing power, and preferred communication channels can amplify your marketing efforts.