Ah, millennial buying habits. The one thing that all marketers wish they could definitively nail down and run towards success with. A simple Google search of the phrase “millennial buying trends” or “millennial buying habits” will yield article after article with advice that contradicts the article you just read, because as much as we want to group all millennials into a lump sum with groupthink mentality, their generation is comprised of individuals who all have individual buying preferences. So how can we talk about their buying trends at all? With faith, trust, and a few caveats, that’s how.

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

Mobile is undoubtedly important when millennials are shopping. Surveys will show that anywhere from 40-60% of millennials prefer to shop online. Influencer is a real job title now because of millennial’s online purchasing habits. Consider upping your social media strategy to include paid partnerships with influencers, offer a special discount through digital ads, and make your mobile shopping experience seamless from start to finish.

Caveat: Although mobile is incredibly important to millennials, this doesn’t mean that brick-and-mortar shopping is out of the question. Especially for electronics, clothing and cosmetics, millennials want to be able to try the product in person before committing to the purchase. Storefronts should be appealing and have the same promotions and sales that their online site has.

Price Comparison

Between Google Shopping, Amazon, Target, Walmart and other online retailers, the ability to shop for a product and purchase it for the best deal is at an all-time high. Millennials often walk into a store knowing exactly what they’re going to purchase and expect to find it for the price that they researched it for online. Make the transition from exploring your products online to testing them in person seamless by having items in-stock and at the price advertised online.

Loyalty Programs

It’s a growing myth that millennials have no brand loyalty anymore. However, when treated as valued customers, millennials can be extremely loyal. Part of the key to valuing millennial customers comes in the form of small plastic punch cards or virtually collected stars on a tablet cash register. That’s right, it’s time to bring in a loyalty program. Millennials love their loyalty programs; it makes them feel seen and rewarded for their purchases. Try offering a free product after so many points, a generous discount or free shipping as part of your program.

Caveat: Just because millennials can be brand loyal doesn’t mean they’ll be brand loyal on social media. Only 7 percent of millennials will follow a brand to engage in an online community about that brand. Millennials are mainly following brands on social media for the chance to score a discount on their products. Keep your social content relevant, sharp and interesting. And don’t hesitate to throw out a social-exclusive coupon code!

If you’re still not convinced, let me offer you an example from my own life where I embodied each of the points we’ve talked about without realizing it.

I’ve been in the market for a new skincare routine as my old products were running out and no longer doing their jobs. I began by researching what each component of my routine would be from cleanser/toner to serums/creams and moisturizer. When I had decided what products I wanted to purchase I began scouring the internet to find the best price. Some products I was able to purchase on Amazon with my Prime membership and get at a great price with quick, free shipping. One moisturizer was purchased directly from the Korean beauty brand’s online store. After this I was left with toner to purchase at Sephora. While navigating the new store layout, I found Sephora’s new line of in-house skincare and grabbed their eye cream on a whim for its low price and promises to rid me of my perma-tired dark under-eyes in just 28 days. Finally, I made it to the row that had the product I came in for; even though I had done my research and knew what the price would be, I still balked with sticker shock upon first glance. Immediately I pulled out my phone and opened up the Amazon app to see if I could get a better deal there. As my research had shown, I couldn’t, so I woman-ed up and bought the toner. I got to the checkout counter and was informed that I had 165 loyalty points through Sephora’s Beauty Insider program. The cashier offered me the choice of four sample-sized products and I ultimately chose the lovely active charcoal dry shampoo. I instantly felt appreciated and didn’t feel as bad about dropping some cash on my purchase because they had given me something in return, too. I felt better about my purchase and had a renewed interest in shopping at Sephora to earn more reward products.

So what does my trip to Sephora have to do with your marketing strategies? It illustrates the trends we’ve been talking about: I did most of this research on my phone and made all of my online purchases from my phone in about seven minutes; I compared prices both before I got to the physical store and while I was in the store to make sure I was getting the best deal; and I felt special at the end of my purchase because I got to cash in on rewards points through Sephora’s loyalty program. Keeping these three strategies in mind when marketing towards millennials will go a long way towards making your products seen, and ultimately purchased by the ever-elusive millennials.

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