With “marketing to millennials” returning 35,800,000 results on Google, and Accenture projecting that millennials will generate about 30 percent of all U.S. retail sales by 2020, most brands have accepted marketing to millennials as a strategic focus.
But with 80 percent of retailers currently attributing half of their sales to baby boomers, and Generation X exercising the most spending power of any generation, focusing on millennials at the expense of everyone else is a mistake.
Fortunately, it turns out that there are some things that ALL generations want from their favorite brands.
So What Do All Millennial, Generation X and Boomer Consumers Want?
Easy Access To Information
Consumers of all generations are more empowered than ever before. At all ages, shoppers know how to cut through the noise of brand messages to get the real information about products and pricing that they seek.
For retailer content to be valuable, it must be targeted, personalized, and readily available on the channel or platform of the shopper’s choice at the right time. (For example, Boomers are more likely to receive your messages between 5am and 12pm, whereas Millennials and Generation X look at content between 8pm and midnight.)
While all generations have a preference for unbiased product information, Millennials are the most likely to filter out beautifully designed and pre-packaged brand content. 43 percent say they value authenticity over the content itself, and do much of their product research via social media. This audience prefers rapid cadence -- and even user generated content, and expects content to be available through live stream, photos, video, quizzes, and games.
Content that appeals to the SnapChat set may not appeal to Generation X or Boomers, but don’t assume these audiences are digitally disconnected -- a full 85% of Boomers research products online.
The biggest difference between the generations is their preferred mode of communication. Millennials are completely happy to engage with you via text, and interact with you publicly via social, but Boomers stick to traditional sites like Facebook, and prefer one-to-one interaction with retailers, particularly over the phone. Generation X is comfortable researching online and via social, but still prefers interacting with brands via email.
Personalized Mobile Strategy
There’s no denying that millennials have led the pack when it comes to mobile. 75 percent of Millennials look at their phones at least 50 times a day, and spend at least 3 hours a day on their phones. But with 82% of Gen X using smartphones, it’s a mistake to develop a mobile strategy with only millennials in mind.
It’s important to build capabilities into your applications that are valuable to busy and cost-conscious parents and retirees — like shopping list capabilities, the ability to get credit for coupons at checkout, or the order "out-of-stock" items from the phone -- and to design the app for audiences of every age (i.e. -- make sure the buttons are big enough for everyone!
Reinvented Storefront Experiences
Across all generations, the store still matters. Two-thirds of consumers say interacting with a product is critical in their purchasing decision, while 50 percent want the instant gratification of taking a purchase home with them immediately. But to get people to visit the store, retailers must provide a more engaging, and differentiated experience. Otherwise, what’s stopping consumers from making their purchases online?
Millennials expect the shopping experience to be engaging and fun, and expect staff to be an extension of the online brand, fluent in technology like digital checkout and mobile loyalty programs. Boomers, who are more reliant on discounts, look for in-store promotions. Additionally, when Boomers plan a shopping trip, they want to know it will be a success. So it’s important that the goods they want to purchase in store are actually there, and that they can check inventory online, and ensure the return policy meets their needs before heading to the store.
This is where hi-tech promotion devices like Pepper, a humanoid robot that leverages the latest machine-learning technology, has helped brands meet the needs of a wide variety of shoppers. Pepper draws shoppers of all ages into the store, educates them about in-store promotions, shares information about your products and brand. This allows your staff to focus on personalized customer care, and makes your in-store experience more exciting and differentiated.
Rewards For Loyalty
When it comes to loyalty, it may surprise you to hear that Generation X is incredibly loyal. This generation has a reputation for being skeptical of brands, but 34.7% consider themselves to be “quite loyal” to brands. And the data shows that once they’re bought in, they’re incredibly loyal. These shoppers are the most frequent purchasers once they had joined a loyalty program.
Boomers are fiercely brand loyal too. But a whopping 93 percent of Boomers said they felt overlooked and inadequately rewarded by their favorite brands. One of the biggest reason Baby Boomers said they would write off a retailer is if it was clear that a sales associate didn’t appreciate their business.
This is where Amazon has been incredibly successful with both audiences. Not only has the company’s Prime program been incredibly successful, making up 60 percent of its total GMV in 2015, but the company's focus on customer service, easy returns, and pricing integrity show Boomers and Generation X that they are valued.
Conversely, only 29% of millennials say they usually buy from the same brand. Millennials know it’s a shopper’s market, and expect brands to keep them engaged. If you don’t offer the product they want, at the price they want, with the ease of purchase that they seek, they know your competitor -- or Amazon -- will. Loyalty for this audience means personalized offers, targeted communications via mobile, and a fully integrated experience that captures online buzz in the store.
The Bottom Line
While there has been a lot of talk about the unique needs of millennial shoppers, the fundamentals of marketing to this group may not be as different as you think. All buyers want easy-access to information, a better shopping experience, and a more empowered relationship with their favorite brands.
To learn more about creating a better in-store experience for all generations, please read, How to Get a Double Digit Increase In Your In-store Sales.