Engaging with the Millennial Shopper

The retail landscape is fluid and as we move forward in 2016 with industry buzzwords such as ‘experiential’ and ‘omni-channel’ the old, lingering notion that the millennial customer isn’t worth chasing has changed.

Previously identified as under-employed, living at home and perhaps coppering-up for bus fare and maybe a coffee, ‘Generation Y’ (those aged between 18-34) are now a spending force to be reckoned with. They’re being promoted at work, are stepping onto the housing ladder and their increased spending power is forecasted to account for retail sales in the hundreds of billions in the coming years.

As the shopper profile has shifted focus, shopping centre marketers in the know are utilising market research and data capture to further understand their youthful customer and are introducing millennial-friendly marketing strategies and experiential events within their centres.

So how do marketers capture the attention of this growing, discerning customer base in imaginative ways?

Millennials make informed and considered spending decisions

‘Online and mobile channels are important to Millennials, providing the information and insights they need to find the best products and services’ and this has provided a platform for the rise of new influencers: the bloggers.

In recent years, these independent publishers have become notable heavyweights in the retail industry. Seemingly impartial and showcasing their personalities and lifestyles to the online world, many like Fleur de Force and Tanya Burr have become household names with their opinions influencing purchases the world over.

Manchester Arndale engaged with these shoppers during the Christmas period through their 2 day ‘Vloggers Christmas Edit LIVE!’ event in which they invited popular Youtube stars to visit the centre and record exclusive gift guides and suggest recommendations. The event was a notable success and resulted in the videos being viewed online 95,000 times. Twitter outreach reached the millions and a there was a significant increase in the number of social media followers.

Millennials respect values and beliefs

‘More than 50% of millennials make an effort to buy products from companies that support the causes they care about’. In a recent article published on line by Forbes magazine, the author commented on how striking their willingness to engage in this way is when we consider our typical money-strapped out-of-date perception of millennials.

Shopping centres that integrate charity initiatives into their events calendar will seemingly greatly increase the likelihood of engaging with a millennial shopper and cultivating a positive brand image and mindset. Recent strong examples include the ‘Charity bike-a-thon’ at St Anns Shopping Centre and the RSPB event at intu Victoria with paralympian Richard Whitehead.

Millennials appreciate ‘experience’

In recent years, retail property professionals have recognized the importance of providing a well-rounded customer experience and this can be evidenced through the upturn in leisure development across shopping centre schemes.

‘When shopping, millennials prefer an “experiential” retail environment, where shopping is more than a transaction and the pleasure of being in the store isn’t limited to the goods that customers take home’.

Last weekend, whilst running errands, I joined the throngs of delighted shoppers at the MCR Made Up event; a weekend long beauty experience that welcomed 18 health and beauty retailers and 2 MCR Made Up Selfie Booths. Visitors enjoyed beauty tutorials, enjoyed exclusive beauty discounts, and took home a free copy of international make-up artist and vlogger Jamie Genevieve’s ‘How to Beauty Guide‘.

We work in a rapidly changing and fluid industry. Whilst we have to be alive to the growing online marketplace, there is still a place for shopping centres. However, ‘those that truly want to target millennials need to understand this and target them accordingly, or risk losing this giant demographic’.

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