In case you haven't been following the news lately, millennials are ruining everything. The much-maligned demographic born between 1980 and 2000 is, if you believe the hype, are single-handedly responsible for the downfall of everything from engagement rings to Applebees. To hear certain political figures tell it, they're even choosing avocado toast over home ownership, and iPhone upgrades over access to basic medical care. In reality, these world-weary technomancers are getting one heck of a bad rap - but the heart of the problem isn't their unwillingness to spend, it's commerce's stubborn refusal to listen to and adjust to the unique needs of the millennial. Are you guilty of this attitude?
These 6 characteristics are a great way to get to know millennial shoppers, especially if you've been largely guessing up until this point:
Characteristic #1: "Showrooming" Fear is Largely Unfounded
Only a handful of years ago, many eCommerce experts were pulling a chicken little, vowing that web-savvy shoppers were only visiting smaller brick-and-mortar stores to poach ideas and impressions, then buying from large aggregate sites like Amazon and eBay online instead of in the physical location they just popped by. The rumor went that this behavior would be the downfall of physical stores, who couldn't possibly compete with tech giants while saddled with the realities of brick and mortar overhead, staffing, and business hours. In reality, only 32% of millennials prefer "showrooming" in a recent survey by MarketingProfs. That number that could also fall dramatically in the future, thanks to an unusual patent recently secured by Amazon: while details are sparse, it involves censoring technology that will prevent shoppers from using smartphones to price-compare products while utilizing the store's wi-fi.
Characteristic #2: They Like to Pre-Game
On the other side of the spectrum, nearly half of the millennials surveyed report a preference for "webrooming" - the act of researching products online before heading to a store. If a company wants to tap into this momentum, they should focus on providing relevant, informational content on all of their products and usage, preferably in multiple formats and paired with responsive web design. Make it easy to discover your products, and natural curiosity will win over browsing millennials without an uphill battle.
Characteristic #3: They Often Device-Hop
The majority of respondents - 68%, in fact - note that seamless omnichannel shopping is important to them. Again, this is where responsive design will come in! Make sure that their cart, their login credentials, and your store layout remains the same across smartphones, tablets and desktop computers whenever possible.
Characteristic #4: They Make Up Their Minds Online
Nearly three-quarters of survey responses indicated that online research on options was completed before ever setting foot in a store. Make the data your potential customers will need - sku numbers, prices, color names, feature names, and so on - readily accessible on your site.
Characteristic #5: Their Smartphone is Your Checkout
73% of millennials surveyed said they used their smartphone to purchase products. That means if your checkout isn't mobile ready, you could be losing almost 3/4ths of your sales. Even incredibly successful businesses can't take that kind of hit and keep the lights on, so make sure your site is welcoming and configured for mobile shoppers at all times.
Characteristic #6: They Pay Attention
A full half of the survey responses agreed that ratings and reviews are the primary reason they shop - or decline to shop - in a particular store. Always keep an eye out for complaints or bad reviews, and respond to them quickly, professionally, and empathically to help bolster your brand image, even in the face of criticism.
Master these 6 points of interest, and you'll be well on your way to winning over millennials. It's either that or leaving avocado toast laying conspicuously around, and we hear that's a pretty expensive endeavor.