6 Tips to Engage Millennial Consumers

How do you connect with an entire generation of consumers that don’t want to be bothered? An entire generation that naturally ignores advertisements and is careful about making purchases? This generation is the ‘Millennials’.

A Millennial is an individual born in the years 1980-2000. As a generation they total roughly 25% of the United States population and spend an estimated $600 billion each year in the retail market. Accenture projects that this number will hit $1.4 trillion by the year 2020 and will account for around 30% of total retail sales. As the presence of Millennial shoppers continues to increase it is vital to retail success to connect with this demographic as consumers and understand their spending habits. What are they looking for in a brand or product? Which advertisements successfully grab their attention? And how exactly do they shop?

The influences in Millennials’ purchasing decisions

Before delving into the habits of Millennials, it is important to understand what factors are influencing their behaviors. This generation grew up in a time of great wealth and were one of the most materially gifted generations yet.

But, then the economic crisis hit and many Millennials are still feeling the sting.

As they enter the workforce, starting new careers or struggling to find work, most have more time than money. This plays into their ability, and want, to shop around before making a purchase. Recent research shows that 58% of individuals 18-33 years old said they “loved to shop,” but when in a store, purchase rates are the lowest among this age group at only 57%.

With the average level of wealth for people in their 20’s and 30’s 7% lower than it was in 1983, it is no surprise that Millennials are more intentioned and specific in their purchases. Nearly three fourths of them do online research before even purchasing a product.

They look more towards making durable purchases (think clothes that won’t go out of style) and prioritize ‘access’ over ownership (i.e. Netflix over DVD’s and Spotify over CD’s). As this generation came of age they watched the economy go down and many saw their parents lose a lot of what they had worked their entire lives for. So, Millennials tend to value experiences, like traveling, more than material objects because, as one survey participant put it, “experiences can’t be taken from them.”

While many believe that social media is the key to garnering more Millennial shoppers, this is not entirely true. In a survey conducted by Accenture, most Millennials admitted that they follow or “like” brand and companies on social media only if doing so will grant them access to coupons or deals that will save them money. One participant said that she would have to be especially motivated by emotion to follow a brand on online for no reason at all. 95% of this group of consumers want to be “courted” by brands with coupons via mail and email.

But, if Millennials aren’t being reached via social media how do you engage them?

6 tips to help you sell to Millennials

Now that we established how Millennial buying habits are influenced and what they’re look for in advertising or social media campaigns, what can you do to draw them in and, more importantly, convert them to customers?

Use a mix of different social media networks.

Think about the types of content that should be shared on each! Though Millennials are still active on Facebook, they are beginning to shift to other networks as well. In order to reach this demographic you will need to get creative in the branding you put up on each site and think strategically about what type of user each network attracts.

Pinterest is very popular among Millennial women, while Twitter has a broader base of users and Instagram is one of the tpo media channels used by all Millennials on a daily basis. Think about the customer you are looking to attract on each network and design your marketing for them.

Make sharing worth their while.

Millennials aren’t as concerned with sharing their information online as their parents were. Instead, they want to understand how sharing that information will be beneficial to them. For example, signing up for a loyalty club with exclusive discounts will attract more Millennial email addresses then say a newsletter.

Encourage user-generated content.

Get your consumers involved in the content you are posting. Incorporate tailored call to action items on your various social media accounts. If you post a new product image on Instagram, ask followers to share their own images of the product in use and tag your company in it. Or use AddShoppers Purchase Sharing app to motivate your customers to tell their friends of various social networks about what they just bought from your company.

Don’t strive for luxury branding.

Even more affluent Millennials aren’t necessarily seeking out items to show off their elevated status of wealth. Much like their less fortunate counterparts, they value experiences or opportunities to create memories more than anything else and will choose to spend their residual income on that as opposed to material items.

Switch from banner ads to social ads.

Growing up in the digital age, Millennials have become accustomed to banner ads and more often than not ignore them without a second thought. Social ads, however, engage them as they are included in the user’s news feed and include some sort of content describing the product or company. They provide users with more information than banner ads and are integrated with other content.

Go mobile.

Millennials are rarely without their mobile phones, majority of which are smartphones, making it imperative that every platform they come across is optimized for mobile devices. In fact, 70% of Millennials will immediately delete an email that isn’t adjusted for a mobile screen without even reading it. You can read more about mobile consumers and the influence on email marketing in our blog here.