According to the most recent data, over 72 million millennials currently live in the United States. These adults, who will be turning 24-38 in 2020, have a colossal influence on retail and the U.S. economy as a whole. Accenture estimates that millennials will make up 30% of total retail sales in 2020 with a total purchasing power of over $1.4 trillion. Alongside their younger cohorts in Gen Z, this powerful generation is actively shaping the way we view the brand-consumer relationship and influencing major changes in the marketing, sales, and retention strategies of major retailers nationwide.
Retailers have realized that our youngest generations are looking for a totally new way to shop—and they have the power to vote with their dollars and make their voices heard. As a result, the following strategies have emerged as promising ways to harness Gen Z and millennial buying power and boost sales in 2020 and beyond.
Ways to Leverage Millennial Buying Power to Boost Sales
Cash In on Convenience
More than any other generation, millennials expect a shopping experience based on convenience. This generation grew up with Amazon and Netflix, and have grown to expect instant gratification from the retailers they frequent. Forty percent of millennials are parents—young parents—who don’t have time to waste on lengthy errands. A buy-online-pickup-in-store strategy is one of the best ways to optimize for speed and convenience in the era of overnight shipping.
A smooth omnichannel retail experience is crucial for all consumers, but especially millennials. Sixty-eight percent of them expect a seamless and integrated retail experience no matter what channel they happen to be using. And when 54% of their non-grocery purchases are made online, millennials leave retailers wondering how to increase foot traffic in brick-and-mortar stores. “Buy online pickup in store” is the answer. If you’re not already using BOPIS, or are looking for ways to increase your success with this crossover strategy, consider the following tips:
- Prioritize website speed above all else. Consumers still use computers to online shop—but many individual retailers’ sites are slow to load and cumbersome to navigate. Clean up the back end of your website and streamline your sitemap so visitors can find what they need and load every page more quickly. This will also do wonders for your SEO and SERP presence.
- Optimize UX for all mobile interactions. Make sure that your website isn’t just mobile-responsive, but mobile-first. Improve UX for your proprietary branded app. And make sure that all direct-to-purchase pathways from Instagram or Facebook are clean and lightning-fast. If you make your customers wade through a clunky UX, you might lose them.
- Make the in-store experience fast and easy. BOPIS best practices dictate putting the pick-up station right up front in a prominent and immediately-accessible part of the store. Streamline logistics so that orders are ready at the time you say they will be, and shoot for same-day order fulfillment (or three hours, if you can make it).
- Provide real-time product availability. Surprisingly, 89% of millennials say that their choice of retail stores would be influenced by having access to real-time product availability data. When your bottom-of-the-funnel customer has the option of visiting your store or one of your local competitors, this could be the differentiating factor for you getting that sale.
Invest Wisely in Social Media
Millennials spend an incredible amount of online time on social media platforms, so brands immediately want to establish a presence there. That much is obvious. However, certain social media strategies work better than others, especially for retailers in the CPG sector. Below we discuss how to optimize three intersecting aspects of your social media strategy: ads, influencers, and your own accounts.
Social Media Ads
Sixty-three percent of U.S. millennials use ad blockers when browsing and shopping online—and for good reason. Display and pop-up ads are intrusive and obnoxious to many, especially those who spend a lot of their free time online. In-app video ads on Facebook and Instagram stories (and streaming platforms like YouTube) tend to appear less annoying, as do in-feed image-based ads. By choosing wisely and investing in retargeting, you can use social media ads without alienating your audience.
Seventy-four percent of millennials report that their shopping is influenced by social media, and this could be attributed to the diligent work of influencers. Retailers have a lot to gain from partnering with micro-influencers, in particular in 2020, to deliver targeted content to their most valuable customers. Smaller content creators are most likely to appreciate the support from a large brand, and to agree to publish sponsored content on a regular basis. Building out a wide base of many micro-influencers will often perform better than one star contract.
In general, most millennials don’t follow brands on social media—unless, of course, they’re looking for deals. Instead of bolstering your proprietary social media accounts with a steady flow of content for sale, try adding value in other ways. Reward followers for opting into your messaging. Your social media fans are the perfect audience for an occasional holiday promo code or flash sale. They’ll be the most likely to develop into brand advocates who will share your content far and wide. By making your page more than a catalog, you’ll make a bigger impact.
Reward Customer Loyalty
Believe it or not, research shows that millennials are more likely to respond to loyalty rewards and stay loyal to a retailer than any other generation of shoppers. Perhaps that’s because they align more closely with a brand’s values and consider their loyalty a small part of who they are as a person. Regardless, this loyalty should be cultivated and rewarded through innovative solutions.
Your company likely already has a proprietary app with a rewards program built in. You might also be running an email-based rewards program. But 58% of millennials make separate email accounts to house all of their brand communications—which essentially means these messages are falling on deaf ears. Millennials don’t want to be bombarded by branded content. But they do want to be engaged with personalized, targeted content that’s relevant to them. Innovative shopping solutions like Shopkick are helping bridge that gap and encourage the loyalty that younger generations are happy to give.
Shopkick is an innovative rewards app that turns everyday errands into rewarding scavenger hunts. Users are rewarded by viewing in-app content (including video ads), entering retail locations, and even picking up items and scanning their barcodes. It’s quite a simple premise, really. When your best bottom-of-the-funnel customer is standing in front of your display with your product in hand, watching a compelling video ad to completion, they’re far more likely to place that item in their cart.
Brands like Kraft, Kellogg’s, Purina, and Rimmel-London have partnered with Shopkick to reward customer loyalty and drive sales in retail locations like Target, Sam’s Club, and Walmart across the United States. If you’re looking for a powerful new way to leverage millennial buying power, this could be your chance.