Born between 1980 and 2000, Millennials are the first truly digital generation. Yesterday’s financially dependent teens are today’s young adults with careers, raising kids and living in their own homes, they have a significant economic impact, and to marketers, they are a force to be reckoned with.
Millennials expense makes them one of the most important cohorts for grocery stores and retailers. The challenge for most of them, however, is that the millions of millennial consumers shop much differently than older generation. For example, millennials have a trade up-trade down mentality, meaning they will spend a modest premium on brands they deem worthy, but buy private label brands when the brand has failed to create a reason enough value to warrant the premium. A millennial shopping cart will be stocked with a mixture of name brands and private labels on the same trip.
There are “many traps CPG marketers can unknowingly fall into if they make decisions by only referencing generalized information or trends about Millennials,” says Eric Pakurar, Chief Strategy Officer, of Geometry Global North America. “When we took a close look at Millennials’ shopping behavior in CPG categories, we found that very few widely-believed assumptions about Millennials held up. For instance, when they’re going out to buy paper towels, shampoo or makeup, they don’t travel in packs, they don’t research products online and they’re not using their mobile phone as an in-store or list-making tool. This research showed us how critical it is to examine the life stage and shopping goal— such as the categories they’re shopping for— to understand or predict their shopping behavior.”
One important insight uncovered by the research is that digital and mobile play a very limited role — if any — with Millennial CPG shoppers. Retailer apps are competing with every other app on their phone, which means that no marketer should assume that just because Millennials are “mobile,” they will seek out a retailer or a brand app. Most Millennials actually weren’t aware of these apps at all. Millennial-age shoppers rarely look online before shopping — and even then, the main resource they seek is customer reviews. They avoid manufacturer websites, viewing them as biased. Instead, once in stores, Millennials are task-oriented shoppers. They like to get in and out of stores quickly and they are on the lookout for shortcuts and cues to help guide shopping or alert them to special offers. They like to use aisle end caps, for example, as navigational tools and are more likely to go down the aisle to “get the best deal.” They want to make the comparison at shelf based on all of the choices they have. And a recurring theme is that most Millennials tend to purchase products only when they run out. Indeed, these young shoppers do not typically plan their shopping trips or make shopping lists. ”
In addition to their procrastination, Millennials are loners. Many of these shoppers prefer to shop alone while grocery shopping, a sharp contrast to apparel shopping. And, with a few exceptions, they don’t ask for input from their (Facebook) friends. Meanwhile, Millennials are typically less driven by defined possessions, and that extends to communal ownership of many household products — although there are still some personal items that are off-limits. Those with roommates were not likely to have set schedules or rules about how purchases for the home were split or consumed. Often, when something runs out, the next roommate to visit the store makes the purchase.
The research also found that although Millennials are very aware of climate change and opt for environmentally friendly products in most categories, few “green” products actually make it into their carts due to confusion about the actual benefit and the fact that most of their purchasing decisions are dictated by price.
“While they didn’t always buy cause products, many were very aware of bringing in their own bags to shop,” says Pakurar. “Bringing your own bag is a more visible sign of being socially-conscious — rather than buying environmentally-friendly toilet paper — and it’s easy to connect using your own bag to a direct environmental impact. The reality is Millennials do tend to rally around causes, but brands need to do a better job of communicating the impact and give Millennials a reason to care.” Larissa Faw
Retailers need to rethink the shopping experience if they want to better connect with today’s Millennials, according to a new study. In a survey of U.S. consumers by Toronto-based retail design firm Shikatani Lacroix, nearly half of Millennials (47 percent) said they value the experience a brand provides more than the actual product value, compared to 22 percent of boomers and 38 percent of Gen X. In addition, nearly 48 percent of Millennials feel more loyal to a brand that provides interesting experiences, compared to 35 percent of Gen X and 17 percent of boomers. And 42 percent of millennials indicated they enjoy experiences that allowed them to feel part of the story, compared to 38 percent of Gen X and 20 percent of boomers.“[Millennials] are very much experiential driven, and much more about being part of the narrative, so retailers have to start thinking about how to make the consumer part of the story,” said Jean-Pierre Lacroix, president and founder of Shikatani Lacroix. “Being part of an immersive experience is really important for millennials.
The message for the retailer is you have to make [the store environment] more immersive and much more engaging than you are today.” Rebecca Harris. Not all decisions need to be made in-store. Marketers have an opportunity to save Millennials’ time by taking the shopping experience out of the grocery store. Marketers can use mobile devices to take the uncertainty out of purchasing their product by using mobile/tablets to give Millennials richer and more entertaining product demonstrations. The post-purchase period is the time marketers can build loyalty with Millennials. Brands should amplify a product experience. Providing a compelling social or digital component to your product can be the unique point of differentiation that drives repeat purchase.
There remains plenty of untapped potential for marketers willing to innovate their approach by tapping into the Millennial mindset.