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How to keep up with millennials shopping habits

There are roughly eighty million millennials in the U.S. alone, born between 1980 and 2000, that are shaping today’s market. This group of consumers spends approximately $600 billion annually and are expected to make up 30 percent of total retail sales by the year 2020, according to Accenture.

But who exactly are they? Millennials make up most young adults nowadays. They are technologically savvy, turning to their handheld devices to hail a ride with Uber and order delivery through Postmates to meet all their needs.

This new-age behavior is changing traditional purchasing patterns. In order to compete in this new age, tech savvy market, you need to make sure your website meets the needs of millennials.

How do Millennials shop?

Millennials have the reputation of doing everything on their smartphone but, surprisingly, most tend to make actual purchases offline. 89% of millennials use smartphones as a method to connect to the web and research products, but only 16% of millennials make the majority of their purchases from their smartphone, according to Forbes.

And a full 82% of them care about brick and mortar stores while still demanding cross-channel experiences such as online support, according to Social Media Explorer.

  • Because millennials value experiences over possessions, it's important to provide seamless customer service both in-store and online.

Millennials are the generation of “NOW”

Long delivery times are no longer seen as acceptable. 10 days? Forget it. Millennials want things, and they want them fast.

Amazon took the lead by offering free two-day shipping to its Prime members. Big box stores like Target started to compete by offering free two-day shipping to their Red Card holders. While all of that is great, two-day delivery may still feel like a snail's pace to some millennials, which is why some merchants now offer next-day and even same-day delivery options (with some items arriving within the hour).

  • Shorten your shipping and handling times or offer free shipping to attract more millennials to your ecommerce business.

Millennials are driven by price

When shopping online, millennials typically spend three minutes looking for coupons before making a purchase, showing that, despite their reputation for frivolous spending on avocado toast, value still matters to young adults. Plus, a full 84% of millennials use their phones to find promos while shopping.

This fact is further reinforced by the fact that two out of three millennials say they'd leave their favored brands if offered a discount of 30% or more at an alternative store.

  • Constantly update your coupons, push them out on your social channels, and let your email marketing base know about them.

Millennials make more impulse buys

Every generation makes impulse purchases. That's why companies as different as Trader Joe's and Sephora are both notorious for their impulse purchases at the checkout line, which they've stocked with mini-goodies for anyone waiting in line to snag.

Who among us hasn't gone to Zara for a few basics like t-shirts and ended up with a new pair of $5 sunglasses or a scarf?

But did you know that millennials are more likely to make impulse purchases than any other generation, according to a 2016 Gallup study?

It's true. And what works for big stores will probably work for the little guys, too.

  • Offer small, cheap items to your customers during the checkout process, and make it simple for them to add it to their carts.

Millennials are masters of social media

Millennials grew up as the internet did, which is why they're so comfortable on it, and view it as an extension of their shopping experience. In fact, 39% of them review products online, and 26% of them mention brands in social media posts, according to Social Media Explorer.

All of this has forced brands to shed some of their control and try and engage with millennials as other people online, not necessarily people they're selling to.

For an example of what this might look like, take a gander at Wendy's widely praised Twitter account. It has humor, a personality. It feels like your friend has taken over an enormous burger chain's social media channel.

  • Try to communicate over your social channels like your brand is a normal person talking to other normal people.

Millennials are conscious shoppers

Whereas previous generations may have been interested in brands that signified luxury, millennials tend to be more interested in brands that signal "ethical". That explains why 73% of millennials are willing to spend more cash on products from sustainable brands, according to Forbes.

They prefer authenticity to the perceived cookie-cutter experiences of large chain stores, and want to feel like the purchases they're making are having a positive impact on the world.

  • Tell customers the story of your products: Is it sourced locally? Is it sustainable? Is it made from organic materials? If possible, let your customers feel like they'll be making the world a better place if they buy from you.

Wrapping up

Millennials are changing traditional retail habits through technology, taste, and expectations. As the largest generation in the United States, it's incredibly important to adapt to their style of shopping as they grow older and wealthier.

How to keep up with millennials shopping habits
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