Engage Centennials Early and Often to Boost Conversions

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Centennials know how to get what they want whenever they want. Will your company be ready and waiting to capitalize on these opportunities once they arrive?
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Marketers must continuously alter their strategies to align with consumer demand. With each new generation, however, marketers must go one step further, familiarizing themselves with the quirks and habits of the younger crowd in an effort to gain their loyalty at an early age. But, when it comes to Centennials, marketers will likely have to develop engagement methods that appeal to these independent spirits' tendency to self-serve.

PowerReviews' recent "Centennial Shopper Study" examines how the emerging demographic interacts with brands and what they seek from the average shopping experience, as compared to their Millennial predecessors. Researchers polled 1,747 Millennial (ages 19-34) and Centennial (ages 13-18) consumers throughout the U.S. to help brands and retailers understand how to better engage with young, connected shoppers. Centennials conduct most of their research online because they have always been equipped with tools necessary to make decisions independently. Thus, this study explores the online and in-store habits of these teenagers to identify how retailers can hone their marketing plans to best influence this demographic.

The following statistics reveal Centennial shopping behaviors and how these actions influence their purchase habits:

  • Centennials frequently browse for products via laptop or desktop computer (52 percent), mobile phone (37 percent), in-store (6 percent), or tablet (5 percent).
  • While 70 percent of Centennials value quality over price (56 percent), reviews (32 percent), recognizable brand names (8 percent), and free shipping (4 percent) also carry some importance.
  • Fifty-seven percent of Centennials are likely to spend more money on a well-known brand than purchase a lower-priced item from an unfamiliar brand.
  • Because Centennials want to engage with retailers one-on-one directly on-site, 79 percent admitted going to another retailer or Amazon if they couldn't ask a question on the product page.
  • Both Millennials (96 percent) and Centennials (94 percent) conduct most of their product research online. However, while only 37 percent of Millennials opt to complete their transactions in-store, Centennials (46 percent) are more likely to buy the given product at the nearest brick-and-mortar location.
  • Millennials (43 percent) and Centennials (48 percent) trust reviews on the retailer or product website more than they trust social media reviews (both 21 percent). However, 40 percent of Centennials won't purchase a product if there aren't any photos of people using the product.
  • Centennials are most likely to leave product reviews of their own if they were unhappy with the product (37 percent), if they spent a lot of money on the purchase or time considering the purchase (23 percent), if they had an incentive, such as discounts on future purchases or a free sample (21 percent), or if they were happy with the product (19 percent).

Key takeaway: For the average Centennial, technology isn't exciting-it's expected. Millennials may have grown up in the midst of the technological revolution, but Centennials have always had these tools within reach, making them the true digital natives. Therefore, marketers must learn to appease Centennials' innate online behaviors in an effort to gain their attention and their business. First and foremost, marketers must emphasize brand and product quality, as Centennials value this factor above all else. They've witnessed the struggle behind economic hardship firsthand, but they don't want to waste their money on something inferior just because it's cheap. Secondly, marketers must engage Centennials early and often online to boost conversions down the road. Like Millennials, Centennials conduct much of their pre-purchase research via brand websites and product reviews. By presenting Centennials with all the information they seek directly on-site, marketers reduce the likelihood of these shoppers turning to the competition, thereby decreasing loss of sales in the process. Centennials are willing to do the work needed to make an informed decision, but simplifying the process will certainly work in the brand's favor.

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EXPERT OPINION