The Complexity of Millennial Marketing

Millennials as a group are maturing. Marketers must rethink traditional marketing strategies to tap into this valuable demographic.

Millennials' effect on the U.S. economy is only growing stronger. According to the Brookings Institute, Millennials will make up more than one-third of the country's adult population by the year 2020. Additionally, Millennials as a group are maturing, their wallet share is increasing, and they cannot be ignored. For retailers, this means rethinking traditional marketing strategies and adapting them to tap into this valuable demographic in a way that fits their unique preferences and attitudes.

TimeTrade recently conducted a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers to get a better idea of how shoppers like to interact with brands, both online and in-store. The results suggest that Millennials are more interested in face-to-face interactions than one might expect given their reputation.

Surprisingly, 25-34 year olds are more likely than other age groups to book online appointments with store associates, indicating that they like to meet in person and receive individual, personalized attention. In fact, Millennials are perhaps the biggest supporters of today's "concierge economy," a new approach to products and services that gives users exactly what they want, when they want it, all at the click of a button. Think about services like Uber. Open an application, and a car service comes to you, no matter where you might be. With taxis, movie tickets, dinner reservations and so much more essentially "on demand," it's easy to see how expectations have increased. Today's retailers, and others hoping to cash in on the growing Millennial market share, must up their game.

The changing path to purchase

A new consideration for retailers in today's connected world is that shoppers are coming into stores armed with far more information than they had in previous years. Today's shoppers-particularly Millennials-like to engage with brands through digital channels before they even set foot in a store.They are less likely to respond to one-way marketing tactics like print advertisements and are instead forcing retailers to engage with them over Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Most major retailers are already active online across these channels, using them as avenues to get to know their customers better and provide superior omnichannel experiences. In addition to store and product related posts, smart retailers also provide value add, non-promotional information that will help strengthen relationships and ensure loyal followers. By providing a good mix of content across these channels, retailers can better engage with the Millennial audience, who will grow to trust the brand's social presence not only to learn about new products and deals, but also as a source for the latest news and trends in the space.

Smarter shoppers

It should come as no surprise that all that social interaction makes for more informed consumers. According to TimeTrade's research, 92 percent of Millennials entering stores either know exactly what they want or have narrowed it down to 2-3 products. This puts greater pressure on store employees and managers to provide educated, informed counsel for potential customers.

To compete with-or even attempt to keep up with-the vast product information available online, retailers must be sure associates have the right knowledge and skills. This means properly training associates and assigning the right associates for each clients' specific needs. By implementing an online appointment scheduling system, retailers can better understand why shoppers are coming in, what specifically they are looking for, and thus assign the best-equipped associate to deliver knowledgeable counsel and a high-level experience. This is especially important for the busyMillennial demographic, who expect more knowledge from sales associates. Specifically, 74 percent of Millennials report wanting to know the best value, 69 percent want to know the highest quality product and 62 percent want to know which products are most reliable.There's no doubt that more is expected of today's store associates. For Millennials in particular, knowing that an in-store experience will be both beneficial and personalized is a tremendous incentive to choose a specific retailer.

Store visits

The good news is that despite their supposed addiction to online and social channels, Millennials are still visiting stores. In fact, TimeTrade found that 90 percent of Millennials planned to shop in stores as often or more often in 2015 than they did in 2014. What's more, once they get into the stores, they're likely to spend. Eighty-seven percent of Millennials say they buy more than they intend to when they enter stores. Upselling is another area in which educated and helpful employees can make a huge difference. If a customer is shopping for a new electronic, for example, informed employees can also recommend the best options for accessories, adaptors, cases, etc. to upsell an existing sale.

Stores have a huge opportunity to capitalize on the critical Millennial market share. This group values personalized, individual attention. With 59 percent saying they're likely to book online appointments, stores are presented with a great opportunity to effectively cater to this valuable demographic, first through smart social interactions and then through personalized store visits. There's no doubt that Millennials are an important demographic, and with the right tools in place retailers can tap into all their specific traits to deliver a superior experience that fits Millennials' needs and secures their loyal business.