What Retailers Should Know About Selling to Millennials (a Chat with Jasmine Glasheen)

Millennials. They’ve been called everything from entitled and lazy to fearless and empowered. But whatever you think about this generation, one thing is clear: Millennials (aka Gen Y) continue to have a significant impact on the economy and society in general.

According to Nielsen, Millennials spend more than $65 billion per year and influence “upward of $1 trillion in total consumer spending.” That’s a lot of spending power, which is why if you’re in the retail industry, it’s always worth having a conversation about Gen Y.

And that’s exactly what we did. We caught up with Jasmine Glasheen, a writer, marketer, burgeoning generational voice at Retail Minded. Jasmine is also a contributing editor at RetailWire and a regular contributor to various publications in the retail, business, and technology sectors including: Retail Minded, NectarOm, Fiverr and RetailWire.

As a millennial herself, Jasmine has a deep perception of this generation’s shopping preferences, and she shares some actionable advice on engaging and selling to Gen Y. Check it out:

1. What are some key things that retailers should know about Millennials? In terms of shopping behavior, how is this generation different from others?

It’s important for retailers to realize that Millennials are not a strange alien breed. Sure, we shop on our smartphones a lot and have a strong affinity for locally-sourced goods, but we also value an engaging in-person shopping experience and being greeted by a well-trained and enthusiastic retail staff.

VEND INSIGHT

We completely agree with Jasmine. While Millennials are more tech-savvy than the generations before them, they still value retail fundamentals like great in-store experiences and amazing customer service.

That’s why retailers like Nike and Victoria’s Secret consistently make it to “top” lists among Millennials. These brands not only have great products, they’ve invested significantly in their staff and in providing rich customer experiences.

Nike, for example, offers in-store services such as bra fitting, pants hemming, and run analysis which are all carried out by knowledgeable employees. Over at Victoria’s Secret, you’ll find a nice, intimate atmosphere with associates who are more than happy to offer bra fitting advice.

2. What are your top 3 recommended action steps for retailers who want to reach Millennials?

First is to tie-in to your local community. Millennials want to feel like their dollar has an impact for the greater good, so source from local makers/growers whenever possible and advertise your collaboration well.

Secondly, your website absolutely needs to be iPhone compatible.

And third, remember that price points are still important. Millennials aren’t inherently millionaires. The brands that win with this generation will be those that learn how to sell sustainable/local goods at affordable price points.

VEND INSIGHT

Want to see examples of these points in action? Check out Dresden, an eyewear retailer in Australia.

Dresden takes plastic waste from beaches and discarded fishing nets and upcycles them into affordable frames. Dresden lets shoppers create their own pairs of sunglasses by enabling them to interchange the lenses and frame parts (which come in a variety of colors and sizes).

The result? Shoppers can purchase eyewear that’s affordable, stylish, and environment-friendly.

Dresden’s website is also pretty mobile-friendly so users can easily browse the store while on the go.

3. Can you name examples of retailers that are doing a great job at engaging millennials? What about those who aren’t doing a good job?

Moosejaw comes up right away when we start talking about brands who are marketing to Millennials in a language that we understand. The brand is witty to the point of irreverence and Millennials will always rally behind a voice that is slightly sardonic. Hopefully, the company will retain their unique voice despite the Walmart buy out.

Brands that aren’t doing a good job? Look at any of the myriad closing big box retailers that aren’t getting specific with woe inventory or honing in on local markets. They represent “the man” to this generation.

VEND INSIGHT

You only have to take a quick look at Moosejaw’s website and social media profiles to see why Millennials love them. The retailer’s product descriptions are written in a casual, engaging and even humorous tone.

Ditto for its social accounts. On Instagram, for example, their profile description says, “We’re the most fun outdoor retailer in the world carrying the finest outdoor gear and apparel available. According to our moms.”

How about you? How unique or engaging is your retail voice? Ask yourself:  will your customers be able to recognize your voice (i.e. product descriptions, website copy, and social updates) even if your logo wasn’t attached to it or do you sound like your competitors?

If it’s the latter, you should find ways to be more distinct.

Your turn

What’s your experience with millennials? Let us know in the comments.

 

About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.

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