18 December 2015
With all that's written about Millennials' shopping habits, it's easy for businesses to assume that they've got them down. Pew Research Center's notable work on this generation defines them as confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat, frugal and receptive to new ideas--qualities that all relate to their shopping style.

Here’s a reality check. They really love to shop but seldom buy, notes RetailWire—despite their confident natures. In fact, they seek constant reassurance about their choices from friends and family, and are influenced by reviews and testimonials, points out Mooslyvania, an independent digital advertising agency, in its recent study “Truth, Justice, and the Millennial Way.” And despite their frugality, they shop 24/7, thanks to the web, and visit storefronts frequently too. 

Predictably, they crave deals and often scour the Internet for coupon codes and discounts. And they even extend this practice to gift giving, with 73 percent of them saying they would rely on daily deals sites LivingSocial and Groupon, according to Adweek.

But surprisingly, and significantly, their purchasing power has reach far beyond their budgets thanks to their close family ties. They’re so connected with their parents that they have major influence on family purchasing decisions, ranging from cars and technology to dinner choices, notes Fox Business’ Small Business Center.

Why do these nuances count?

Do the math, and the consequences are staggering: 80 million Millennials and their 76 million Baby Boomer parents account for half the nation’s population, and together are the cohorts with the most income to spend. And while Millennials comprise just 36 percent of today’s workforce, by 2025 that number is expected to rise to 75 percent globally, according to BenefitsPro.

And let’s not forget Millennials’ relationships with their parents, which cuts both ways. While they influence household purchasing decisions, they also seek reassurance from family members for their own purchases. Even when they are geographically separated, they frequently ask product questions and field potential purchases among those in their inner circles via social media. They also weigh that advice heavier than they will anonymous reviews and other product information—choosing to trust people they know over other sources.

Millennials Use Mobile and Social Media For Product Discovery

Pew’s benchmark study on Millennials noted that “they treat their multi-tasking hand-held gadgets almost like a body part” and more than eight in ten “sleep with a cell phone glowing by the bed, poised to disgorge texts, phone calls, emails, songs, news, games, and wake-up jingles.” No wonder they’re able to shop 24/7. And if you want to capture some of those dollars, you’d better be ready with an app. As much as 90 percent of their connected time is spent in an app rather than a browser, according to Huzzah Media, which means that whether they’re on Facebook, buying a car or looking for groceries, an app is the place where they start.

Another Millennial shopping habit is signing up for emails from their preferred brands: 40 percent have opted in, notes Moosylvania. Once they have signed up, they then look for those emails for special product deals, according to MarketingProfs.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of Facebook, another element of Millennials’ shopping habits. A natural stopping-off point for Millennials to learn more about brands they love, the well-known social media platform surpasses brand-specific websites almost two to one as the source for product information, says a study by Moosylvania. On the other hand, Millennials also want to be unique and aren’t wedded to Facebook and Twitter, which accounts for the current growing pains these social networks are experiencing while new platforms, such as We Heart It, are quite the rage, notes Fox Business. In one instance, a business garnered more than 20,000 followers on We Heart It within a short time of posting its product.

Bottom line, gone are the days when a consumer’s brand interaction was limited to seeing commercials and buying the product—and this pertains to Millennials more than any other group. After all, they are the largest generation to ever live and poised to dominate the marketplace by 2017, the year when they are expected to outspend Baby Boomers, according to Food Business News.

How To Reach Millennials
  1. Send out a regular email newsletter. Millennials like to keep up with the brands they like, especially on issues that matter to them, like sustainability.
  2. Offer an app. Inexpensive but effective apps can help you reach prospective and current customers, no matter how small your business.
  3. Stay connected via social media. Provide regular product updates to consumers via Facebook, Twitter and emerging social platforms, such as We Heart It.
  4. Appeal to multiple generations. Given that Millennials seek guidance from friends and family, it helps to establish a presence among other age groups.
  5. Offer deals. They appreciate deep discounts and online coupons, as many of them are weighed down with student loan debt.
Check out our past stories on how Millennials obtain their news and why soup in cartons appeals to them more than other packages.

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