Millennials shopping habits and buying habits. How to sell to a millennial?

Millennials shopping habits and buying habits. How to sell to a millennial?

Unfortunately they isn't formal agreement on what a millennial is.   Often cited as being born between 1982 – 1996, some extend this to1980 – 2000 and the start of generation Z.  Millennials could be 37 years old or 17 today. Clearly there are large differences in the needs, buying power and buying habits of a 17 year old compared to a 37 year old.  Nonetheless, millennials are now the a powerhouse of shoppers.  Millennials buying power is greater than any other generation, representing around 28% of US daily per person consumer spending, and this sector will only become more significant as their spending power increases.

Millennial shopping habits

Whist it would be easy to assume millennials are all about smart phones, and any parent attempting to communicate with a millennial will undoubtably appreciate you only get partial focus and concentration from a millennial.  A millennials shopping habits can be as much about bricks and mortar as it is online.  In fact the most important factor for millennials shopping is that the two are seamless.  There is not online or offline – there is just shopping.


One thing is pretty likely however, a digital device will play a role in the sale at some stage.  If you are a destination store and don't have strong visibility online and on social media yet, an increasing proportion of your customer base is probably not seeing you.  Millennial marketing means you must have a digital presence.  That includes allocating an increasing amount of your business to social media promoted posts as well as Google PPC.

Millennial shopping habits


Experience is no longer an add-on for retail stores, for millennials it is essential.  Being so comfortable with technology, they can buy anything they want from the palm of their hands – so the dedicated trip to your store must offer increased value and reward beyond seeing and buying a product.  Think coffee shop, gigs, experiential installations or exhibits – things for them to talk about and share with their peers.  This may require a few less products out on display to make space – but that's ok.  You can shout that your entire range is available online.



In the marketing world, much has been discussed about how millennials are seemingly less loyal to brands than their Baby Boomer parents.  This is true to some extent.  Millennials love brands, the key difference is that Baby boomers trusted brands and large organisations to ensure quality, where as Millennials trust their peers and site reviews for assurances of quality.  Integrating reviews into your online and in-store experience is key.  


In addition to reviews, bricks and mortar retailers should be encouraging millennials visiting the store to check-in on social media, take experiential selfies (what we now can instagrammable moments) thus telling all their friends they shop with you.  

Millennial Shopping


Millennials are very price savvy, as you might expect.  They are also very susceptible to a deal.  Brand loyalties can be severed with a great deal.  This may appear to be all about price, but that's not the only way you can add value and make a millennial feel they are getting a great deal.  Delivery charges, add-ons, rewards or loyalty points, was and now pricing – but clearly never try and pull the wool over their eyes on price.  They probably will be checking on their phone whilst you go in the back to get the box.  

Millennials do check for voucher codes.  It is estimated millennials buying habits include up to 3 minutes looking for voucher codes at the point of purchase.  If you use voucher codes and encourage voucher code sites sharing them, be sure they up to date and still valid.  Expired voucher codes are extremely irritating.  You may need to keep an eye on the voucher code market – these price sensitive millennials may be lured away from you at the last base, if a competitor has a strong voucher offer today.

Written by

Corin Birchall is a Retail Sales & Marketing Consultant and founder of “Kerching Retail - helping to make your till ring”. His consultancy works throughout the UK and Europe. Corin is an active writer, coach and public speaker, helping to develop and grow a wide range of businesses & business leaders from Leisure and Retail sectors

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