Retailers can tap into an immense source of spending power if they can successfully market to Millennials, who currently make up more than a third of American workers. Not surprisingly, considering the world in which this generation has come of age, creative uses of technology are proving to be very effective in accomplishing this.
According to research from Accenture, Millennials in the U.S. currently spend around $600 billion annually. By 2020, that number is expected to increase to $1.4 trillion, amounting to 30 percent of total retail sales. Everyone wants a piece of the pie, but many misguided marketers are stuck using outdated techniques in an effort to appeal to Millennials. In order to attract the attention of this valuable demographic, they need to take a more technological approach.
1. Take your discounts digital.
Research from Salesforce suggests that 71 percent of shoppers are using their mobile devices in stores. In this environment, forcing them to print or clip physical coupons isn’t going to fly. Instead, go digital with your discounts to encourage customers to use their phones. Millennials are also using more payment apps, and retailers can tap into this trend by ensuring they accept new and varied forms of payment.
For example, CrayPay, a free payment app, pays a percentage of each purchase when shoppers use the app at Nike, Barnes & Noble, and other participating retailers. Having an app specific to your business can help, too. For instance, Target’s app, which boasts that it has saved app users more than $1 billion, offers coupons and shares information about sale items.
2. Make online shopping memorable.
Online shopping should be fun and easy, but all too often, it’s a chore. To make it simple, user-friendly navigation is critical; just as in a physical store, if customers can’t easily find the item they want, they’re unlikely to stick around. To make it fun, you can use gamification. For instance, Victoria Secret’s Pink Nation app allows users to play games to win prizes.
You can also revamp your online store to make browsing your digital inventory like browsing sales racks in a brick-and-mortar store. After all, if you are shopping for a gift but don’t know where to start, discovery shopping can be a great option. Curious to see what this looks like in action? Mobile shopping apps such as Tophatter are based on the allure of discovery shopping. With Tophatter, items are sold at heavy discounts in rapid-fire 90-second auctions, so you never know what you’re going to see.
3. Augment efforts with tech-savvy brand advocates and influencers.
An impressive 94 percent of marketing professionals who use influencer marketing report that it’s effective, according to a Linqia report. Before you go straight to the top of the influencer list, know that smaller-scale influencers will be cheaper to work with and more effective. A recent Collective Bias survey found that 70 percent of Millennials surveyed valued non-celebrity endorsements, while only 3 percent of survey respondents would consider products that a celebrity endorsed.
And some influencers don’t have to be paid at all. Happy customers will be your best advocates, and you should go above and beyond to cater to the tech-savvy Millennial audience. These customers will be the ones writing reviews online, and their peers will be the ones reading them. In fact, according to one study, eight out of 10 Millennials won’t buy an item without reading a review first. So encourage shoppers to give you feedback and to write reviews — and be sure to respond promptly to any issues that crop up.
4. Make your storefront tech-friendly.
Millennials are attracted to a wide array of amenities. To get them in your physical store, try providing free Wi-Fi or self-checkout kiosks. These features will cater to the generation’s desire to be connected and its preference for efficiency and speed. Companies such as Apple take things a step further and offer free classes to help users become better acquainted with the products they’re selling.
Opening a storefront near other retail and entertainment destinations is also a proven strategy to attract more Millennial foot traffic. Millennials value their time, and the convenience of checking multiple things off a to-do list draws them to areas where retailers are just one piece of a larger mixed-use ecosystem.
Millennials wield immense spending power, and retailers will be competing fiercely to earn their share of it this holiday season. Technology will help you tap into this audience and appeal to them in new and interesting ways.