Omnichannel matters to millennials

Smartphone millennials

DALLAS – While millennials are a necessary consumer segment for any large retailer to pursue, their brand expectations differ in important ways from previous generations.

            Gabbi Baker

“Millennials are 31 percent more likely to buy if they perceive a brand’s content as not being sales-y,” said Gabbi Baker, a New York-based account supervisor at OgilvyOne Worldwide, during a presentation at the National Retail Federation’s Digital Summit in Dallas. “Content should engage, not push them to buy.”

“People who grew up in the Great Depression wanted value,” added Hunter Thomas, a New York-based senior associate at PwC Advisory. “Millennials don’t want to pay. They do want an experience.”

Omnichannel matters with this group, as millennials expect consistency across channels. Mobile apps can draw young people into stores and improve the experience they have while they’re there, Baker noted.

    Hunter Thomas

Interactive displays can help in that regard, and some retailers are experimenting with robots to help guide shoppers around stores, Thomas said.

But young consumers have trouble understanding why, for example, they receive different messaging from a brand on their mobile devices than they see in-store.

RELATED: Gen Z most open to mobile marketing

Additionally, millennials value immediacy. When they see something online, they want to buy when they want to buy – as in, immediately.

Social media platforms like Facebook are responding, turning into “commerce platforms” in the process, Thomas said.

Customization is mandatory: “Your content should be specific to my needs, which you should already know,” Baker said.

The good news is that 60 percent of this group will tell retailers what they want and don’t want, if asked, Thomas said.

Which makes forming relationships an imperative. Millennials want to feel personal bonds with brands they like, Baker said.

Thus they will pay more for a product or service that helps them earn points in loyalty programs, for example.

For retailers and brands that still struggle with reaching millennials, there's an even bigger group to worry about on the horizon: Generation Z may be even more difficult to tackle.

RELATED: Gen Z drives mobile payments

“Older millennials are having kids, but the younger ones are putting off starting families,” Baker said. “Generation Z is influencing their parents’ spending. We’re already seeing that they’re making purchasing decisions in different ways.”

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