Millennials are increasingly front of mind for many brands and retailers. Polling by Ipsos found that millennials with household income of at least $100,000 spends on average 53 hours a week online, more than their counterparts in any other generation. Millennials also use multiple devices as part of their routine.
According to a recently published report on millennial consumer trends by EliteDaily, nearly 90% of millennials are actively using two to three devices daily, and roughly half are using social media to interact with their networks or influence buying decisions.
Millennial expectations are also sky high. Through years of experience with online and self-service solutions, millennials have grown accustomed to the way technology increases efficiency. They’re used to technology that “just works” and, as such are dismayed when they receive generic, untargeted messaging.
Research by the Aimia Institute found that 38% of consumers are likely to disengage with brands which send them irrelevant messaging, going as far as to suggest that a new kind of “Deletist” consumer was emerging. 71% respond to this mismarketing by unfollowing brands on social accounts, and 60% delete mobile apps.
However, millennials remain a lucrative target for marketers, in no small part due to their loyalty. A study by CrowdTwist found that just over half of millennials say they are extremely loyal or quite loyal to their favorite brands. This seems at odds with a world of limitless options at consumer’s fingertips, where one might expect loyalty to be in decline. So what’s a marketer to do in this mobile world?
We have a few strategies for brands to better serve millennial consumers.
Understand the Mobile-First Millennial Customer Journey
Online and mobile channels play a vital role for millennials, providing the information and insights they need to find the best products and services. A Pew Internet study found that 15% of millennial consumers either rely on smartphones heavily for all online activity, or don’t have any internet connectivity beyond their smartphone. Yet, while most marketers have either a mobile app or have updated their website to be responsive on a smartphone, most haven’t sat down to look at what the mobile millennial’s customer journey actually is.
Paradoxically though, bricks-and-mortar stores are playing a more important role than ever. A study by OpinionLab found that American millennials were that only generation that preferred shopping malls to online shopping. 37% of millennials – defined as adults between 18 and 29 – would rather shop at the mall, while only 27% would rather shop online. 61% of millennials cited the ability to touch and feel merchandise as an important factor to them when shopping at a retail store, echoing generations of Americans before them.
Where millennials differ from their predecessors is a clear demand for an integrated, seamless experience. Research from Accenture found that 68% of millennials demand a seamless experience regardless of the channel they’re using. For retailers, this means integrating IT operations so that they are able to have a single conversation with customers whether they are using a smartphone, a tablet, a PC, or engaging with an employee in store. Retailers should work to unify data silos and ensure that data can flow across channels.
To deliver this level of service performance and ultimately drive conversion, retailers will need to work with technology, analytics and data specialists. For example, a retailer might partner with a specialist logistics firm who is able to provide same-day delivery within certain locales, or a cross-device expert to ensure that they are able to reach customers across devices, channels and platforms.
Bring Marketing and Product Teams Together
Aligning marketing and product teams will also be critical. While marketers are responsible for translating a company’s strategy into marketing messages, product teams are responsible for setting product strategy that support customers demands. Unfortunately, marketing and product are often poorly aligned.
The main issue is that marketers often don’t have visibility into product data and insights. A major strength of leading retailers is that they are able to be consistent in omni-channel promotional pricing. There is strong communication between product, planning, sales and inventory to create a cross-channel promotions strategy. To achieve this, marketers must be able to access cross-device and cross-channel performance data to support the planning process. By leveraging cross-device technology, marketing and product teams can align on pricing strategy, and provide a great customer experience across devices and channels.
Rethink Metrics for a Cross-Device World
Many retailers will also want to think about how they adapt their metrics for the millennial customer journey and a cross-device world. Normally, retailers may have looked at single channels, such as the website or bricks-and-mortar store in isolation. However, this changes when customers are using retail stores to complete customer journeys that started on a smartphone or a desktop. Retailers need to take care to ensure that the correct channels are attributed for the sale, and that each sales channel is incentivized to support the operations of the others when each is responsible for their own performance.
As customers move across devices and channels to make purchases, it’s important for brands to have a holistic view of their customer, and how changes in customer behavior are driving millennials to be loyal towards a favorite ‘basket’ of brands. For retailers, a place in that basket will be hard-won, and they will have to use all of the tools at their disposal to keep millennial consumers engaged.
Ed Chater is Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Marketing Officer for Adbrain