How Millennials Are Changing the Nature of Retail Commerce

By sheer size alone, Millennials can’t help but shake things up a bit. That’s why virtually every industry segment, and particularly the retail world, is scrambling to define them, understand them, and, most importantly, meet their expectations.

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Millennial Motivations

For Millennials, convenience and connectivity reign supreme. Either a brand integrates into their daily routine via their smartphones, or the brand risks being dismissed for a more connected player.

Millennials have never known a world without technology. It’s not that they don’t value in-person interaction; many just don’t see the point in showing up for something unless their physical presence is absolutely required.

They are, in corporate speak, “maximizing their ROI” to achieve desired results from the least amount of time and energy.

Meeting in the Middle

Regardless of the product they’re selling, retailers have no choice but to adopt new strategies and solutions that connect to Millennials. Establishing eCommerce capabilities and building an online presence will only get you so far.

It’s also important for retailers to understand that Millennials prefer experiences over products. Broadly speaking, the more fun a retailer’s marketing is, the more reach it will have among Millennials.

In fact, in a recent report published by The Intelligence Group, one-third of Millennials say they have more fun browsing for items than buying them. And, according to the report, when they do decide to make a purchase, 84% say that user-generated content has an influence on what they buy.

Dom Morea, SVP, Head of Gift Solutions at First Data, explains, “It’s the retailers’ job to figure out how to connect with these customers in fun ways that benefit them without disrupting their lifestyle.”

How we Serve the Millennial-Merchant Connection

The fact that Millennials are driving the popularity of digital gift card sales is no surprise to Morea. “This is a group that grew up getting gift cards as gifts, and a lot of them don’t have (and don’t want) credit cards. As a result, First Data put the purchasing power exactly where Millennials want it – on their phones.”

Morea challenges his team to innovate gift card marketing solutions that help merchants deliver fun experiences in ways that also drive sales.

The Future of Millennial Marketing

As the largest living segment of the population, there’s no denying the influence Millennials have, and will continue to have, on the economy and on the way commerce is conducted. However, “retailers have always had to respond to the wants and needs of different generations,” says Digital Brand Architect’s Robinovitz. “It’s always been about figuring out who their biggest audience is, crafting messages that will appeal to them, and putting it out on the right communication channel. Today, the channels of engagement are just different.”

As new technologies continue to emerge, it is essential for retailers to explore every opportunity to position their brands exactly where Millennials will find them — right where convenience and connectivity intersect.

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