Millennial Misconceptions

RedPrairie study delves past expectations into buying habits of "Gen Y" consumers

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

ALPHARETTA, Ga. -- Communicating with tech-savvy 18-to-29-year olds may be more about looking past technology and more about respect, said a new study on the so-called "Millennial" demographic.

While some characteristics remained consistent with expectations--tech-savvy, confident, independent, determined, global-minded--the study revealed that they are more likely to rely on social media for insight and opinions but prefer traditional brick-and-mortar stores for making purchases.

"Certainly technology was a significant part of life and shopping, but nowhere near as dominant as what might be the perception," David Bruno, director of corporate messaging at RedPrairie Corp., Alpharetta, Ga., told CSP Daily News. "For example, with social networking, their time on Facebook is targeted. They have an agenda of what they want to accomplish--it's not 24/7 like certain stereotypes would lead you to believe."

RedPrairie, a supply chain and retail technology firm based in Alpharetta, Ga., released its "Millennial Report" earlier this fall. Conducted to help retailers and manufacturers better understand the shopping habits of Millennials or "Gen Y" consumers, the study worked off of published reports and a focus group of five panelist within the targeted demographic. The focus group, conducted at Los Angeles' Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, also included an audience of retailers and brand representatives.

The study revealed that Gen Y panelists want to engage with retailers but on their own terms. So despite a preference for in-store purchases, the panel reinforced the need for retailers and manufacturers to be present "everywhere," including online, quick response or "QR" codes in stores, mobile applications, social media and other channels.

"Successful engagement with Millennial consumers is about adding value to their shopping experience and respecting both their privacy and their preferred methods of communication," said Bruno. "The good news is, Gen Y consumers are not shy about having their voices heard."

According to the report, key points to follow when engaging Millennial consumers include:

  • Respect their time: Recognize preferences and make meaningful recommendations.
  • Pick your spots: Make strategic advertising decisions and avoid bombarding at every channel.
  • Be there: Develop the versatility to be available across all selling channels and social media so no need goes unmet.
  • Opinions matter: Facilitate peer communication to help build brand awareness and loyalty.
  • Connect the dots: Connect store, customer and direct channel to make transactions seamless and keep customers coming back.

"When it comes to trying to satisfy Millennials, the bottom line for brands is adaptability," said Bruno. "One minute they want to shop and compare online and via every social networking site available, and the next they want to purchase in the stores."

He said retailers essentially need to provide "endless aisle" capabilities in every channel and location. When marketing to Millennials, retailers and brands must strike a balance between personalizing the shopping experience via individualized product information and not overwhelming or overstepping perceived boundaries of privacy.

"It's a challenge to meet these seemingly conflicting expectations, but with the right technology and integration in place, it's achievable."

Angel Abcede, CSP/Winsight By Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP
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