It’s hard to believe that individuals born at the turn of the century are now old enough to make purchasing decisions – but they are. In fact, consumers between the ages of 13 and 18 (also known as centennials) currently make up a quarter of the population in the United States and by 2040 they will hold 40% of our nation’s buying power.
The problem for marketers is that this generation is unlike any that came before it, and most brands will need to completely reconfigure their digital marketing strategies in the years to come to compete.
Centennials make up the first completely mobile generation and don’t remember a time when society was not constantly connected. To them, technology is not new and exciting, but rather expected and completely accepted as a way of life. What’s more, these individuals grew up in the worst recession in recent history, which means that saving money and thinking through major purchases is second nature.
This combination of tech-savviness and aversion to reckless spending makes the centennial generation unique. They’ll spend extensive time independently researching purchases across multiple digital channels and devices, and will not hesitate to walk away from a brand or product if they aren’t satisfied. And perhaps most importantly, consumers of this age group overwhelmingly trust online reviews more so than any content developed directly by brands themselves.
So as we head into the New Year – and as the centennial generation continues to come of age – marketers will need to integrate new tactics within tried and true strategies. According to the PowerReviews Centennial Shopper Study, marketers need to adapt marketing efforts in the following ways to better reach today’s youngest and soon-to-be most powerful, group of consumers.
- Incorporate reviews within your website content: According to the study, 95% of Centennials read online reviews before they make a purchase. This age group values reviews more than brand name or free shipping. So to convert centennial shoppers, it’s important that reviews are not only present on your site but also that they’re front and center.
- Optimize your site for mobile devices: While 52% of centennials prefer to browse on desktop computers, 37% actually prefer to do so mobile devices. And this age group has very little patience for poorly optimized sites. A slow or clunky site can drive centennials – and their buying power – elsewhere.
- Use quality photos and product content: It’s clear that centennials are conducting extensive research online before making purchases. For brands to stand out among competitors, it’s important to provide high-quality product content and images to showcase colors, materials, size and features. In fact, 40% of those surveyed said they will not make a purchase if there are no photos of a person using the product available on the retailer’s website.
- Don’t delete bad reviews: While it may seem counterintuitive, negative reviews actually provide an aspect of authenticity that can gain the trust of consumers within this age group. According to the study, 22% of centennials wouldn’t trust a product’s reviews if there were no negative reviews present. So don’t delete those negative reviews; they give your brand a personality and allow consumers to validate their purchases.
Ultimately, it’s important for retailers to realize that consumers of the centennial generation are not going to make quick purchase decisions. Instead, they’re going to conduct extensive research across various channels. So keep in mind that you may have many touch points with these consumers before they actually make a purchase. Make sure that the content you provide them is informative and offers quality images and genuine reviews. Allow centennial shoppers to reach a positive conclusion about your brand on their own, and you’ll retain them as loyal customers in the long term.
Matt Parsons is Chief Customer Officer at PowerReviews