The Dissection of Generations by Retailers

mag-glass-data_730x280.jpgAs it stands currently, millennials consists of those ages 18 through 34, which makes the vast majority of them in (or soon entering) their prime income and spending years. It is no longer wise to refer to them as the future of retail (that’s generation Z). No, millennials are the now, and to know them is to know your customers.

The problem is, there are so many disparate and contradictory articles about millennial spending habits floating around online that it can be exceptionally difficult to discern what’s actually true and, in turn, actionable. For instance, there’s this report that says millennials prefer to shop online more than any other demographic. But then there’s also this article that claims they prefer going to the mall than browsing online. Then there’s this Atlantic editorial about how millennials are the “cheapest generation,” while at the same time CNN postulated that “millennials are not cheap.”

See what I mean? It seems that you can literally type in millennial + whatever argument you’re trying to make into Google and find some statistic that backs up your claim. And that’s all well and good for attracting page views. Millennials are a hot topic. But it doesn’t necessarily mean the information proved is worthwhile—or even true.

So, it’s nice to see two recent reports from the independent Retail Info System News that do well not to overly editorialize findings. Instead, in both reports—“Shopper Insight 360 Study” and “RIS Millennial Makeover Custom Research” they simply lay out some key facts about millennial retail habits. 

Millennial Preferences:

  • Millennials prefer in-store shopping partly because e-commerce delivered the lowest marks for customer satisfaction.
  • 62% of millennials have posted online reviews and comments about retailers. But are dismayed that only 2% of retailers take the time to respond to their feedback.  Additionally, 84% of millennials wished that retailers would interact with them more via social media.
  • Mobile is impacted the most by millennials (according to 47% of retailers), followed by online (34%) and in-store (22%)
  • 75% of millennials have made at least one purchase using a smartphone or tablet
  • 87% say they are enrolled in at least one loyalty membership program and 61% say they would join a loyalty program in order to interact with a retailer.
  • 59% go in-store shopping at least twice a week
  • 72% said the number one factor influencing whether or not they shop online or in-store comes down to product selection
  • Predictably, when making larger purchases (appliances, home furnishing), millennials preferred to shop in-store. But when it comes smaller, entertainment-related products (books, movies, magazines) millennials opted to shop online. 

Retailers’ Attitude Toward Millennials

  • 91% of retailers believe retail should “fundamentally change” in order to better meet the needs and expectations of millennials
  • The above should be done by investing in mobile e-commerce services and functions (say 76% of retailers), investing in social media functions and analytics (62%), unifying channels for consistent and seamless shopping experiences (62%), and focusing on innovation and experimentation (59%).
  • And what about up-and-coming Generation Z? Most retailers (59%) say they are in the early planning phase for dealing with this new generation of shoppers while a fifth (22%) say it is “not on the radar.” Better read this.
  • Perhaps most damning, only 7% of retailers said their IT budget (i.e. mobile development, social media, unified commerce, retail analytics etc.) is influenced by the goal of meeting expectations of the millennial shopper. 
  • The areas of change most retailers identified that would cause the most organizational pain during the transition phase to meet expectations of the millennial shopper are: simplifying the mobile user experience (61%), unifying or integrating customer-facing applications or databases (58%), and processes and tasks in stores (48%).

For more information on the two reports, click here.

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Topics: purchase behavior, millenials, generation z, shopping trends

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