How To Shop Like a Millennial

Jan 24, 2017

How To Shop Like a Millennial

Millennials. A fickle group, but one that every online local business needs to better understand if they hope to tap into the immense buying potential this generation possesses. However, appealing to a group of people that have never known life without the Internet means becoming familiar with their preferred shopping habits and how they differ from traditional online local marketing practices.

Fortunately, a study from Blackhawk Engagement Solutions, an international engagement company, had shed some light on the direction millennials are taking successful retail shopping strategies.

Here’s what you need to know about how to shop like a millennial:

Smartphones are How Millennials Connect to the Web

Not surprisingly for anyone that’s recently been in a classroom or who has a teenager, but smartphones rank as the primary method millennials use to connect to the Internet. Roughly 89 percent of millennials use smartphones, compared to 75 percent who use laptops, 45 percent who use tablets, and just 37 percent that use desktop computers. While Google has recently ensured the conversion to mobile platforms should matter for all businesses, these numbers just help to reinforce the idea that businesses need to adopt a mobile-first strategy if they hope to stay relevant to this generation.

Shopping Decisions are Informed by Social Media

Undoubtedly, millennials have been one of the driving forces behind the emergence of social media. More importantly to retailers, millennials use social media as their primary source of hearing about and discovering products, shopping news, and special deals. The study also discovered that the traditional methods of advertising that proved so successful for previous generations – TV and print media – both fall behind other digital methods of advertising. This suggests that retailers need to integrate a digital media marketing strategy into their traditional marketing strategies – if not overhaul it completely.

Price Matters to Millennials

Considering how tight money is for most of us during and immediately following college, it’s not surprising that price ranks as the biggest influencing factor for millennials when it comes to making a purchase. Price ranks above availability, store, brand, and even quality. This makes millennials even more fickle than the average consumer, willing to jump from brand to brand depending, not on quality or preference, but on price alone. This is likely due to the simple fact that millennials know how to comparatively shop online to find the best deal. Unlike previous generations that relied heavily on brand loyalty to inform their shopping decisions, millennials know how to use the web to their advantage to the find the lowest price.

Amazon and Google are the Top Price Comparing Sites on Smartphones

Millennials gather most of the comparative shopping information they use to from Amazon (46 percent) and Google (43 percent). Despite how this may frustrate brick and mortar shop owners, the reality is that millennials use mobile devices to price compare and save, even while on your website or in your store. To compete, retailers need to offer competitive price matching options or provide more value – such as frequent shopper rewards or discounts – than what consumers can get by shopping on Google, Amazon, or other large retail outlet.

“Buy Online, Pickup in Store” Makes an Attractive Incentive to Millennials

Interestingly, 88 percent of millennials said they would consider buying an item online and picking it up at the store if they could save $10 on a $50 item. For local retailers that ship, offering a discount for picking up an item in store not only creates additional value, it also saves on the cost of shipping and handling while driving additional traffic into your store.

Millennials Respond Well to Loyalty Programs

Even though millennials are much less loyal as a group to any one brand, 69 percent belong to a retail loyalty program, and 70 percent of those people are satisfied with their program. While preferences of millennials remain as finicky as ever, this practice requires local businesses to examine what brand loyal means in an entirely different way. However, this study does suggest that retailers can drive return sales by creating value-added loyalty programs for their customers.


While these shopping habits may not come as a surprise to larger retailers, local businesses that struggle to compete and stay competitive in today’s digital landscape, knowing how to attract millennials can make all the difference between success and failure. Fortunately, the online local marketing practices highlighted above offer an easy and affordable way to better understand and adapt to the non-traditional shopping habits of this generation of consumers.

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