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6 Ways to Make Your Business Millennial-friendly

The belief that “one-size fits all” in retail is an idea that no longer has a shelf life. Today, it’s about offering shoppers the products and services that make their lives more convenient and supports their life experiences. Although the vast majority of retailers have multi-generations of customers who shop with their business, they often make little distinction between the buying habits or shopping preferences of each group. According to the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, by 2030, there will be 22 million more millennials in the U.S. than non-millennials. Understanding what motivates them to shop in-store and what they expect when they arrive is essential to the long-term growth of your business.

  • Millennials spend more than $50 per visit in-store
  • Eighty-seven percent of millennials sometimes or always add items they weren’t planning to buy when shopping in-store
    (Consumer study conducted by First Insight)

Offer Speedy and Efficient Service
Efficiency is one reason why Amazon is hugely successful. CouponFollow, a search engine that seeks and categorizes coupon codes, reports that 64 percent of the millennial online shoppers surveyed purchase over half of their products on Amazon. Although baby boomers may be willing to wait for their purchases to arrive, millennials are driven by instant gratification. Their focus is on speed, efficiency, and easy ordering. While some home improvement businesses can’t compete with same day service, they can undoubtedly incorporate speed and efficiency into the in-store shopping experience.

Promote Discounts and Coupons
Millennials carefully consider price and value when making purchasing decisions. Price is an essential factor for these consumers. Eighty-seven percent say they look for discounts and will delay making a large purchase until they locate the product at a price they are willing to pay.

  • Sixty-seven percent will switch brands if offered a 30 percent discount
  • Sixty-five percent search online for coupons before making an online transaction
  • Millennials ages 18-34 are more willing to share their location to get a discount
  • Twenty-five percent are willing to share information to get relevant advertising

Provide Loyalty Programs
One of the best ways to get the attention of millennials is to offer them a loyalty program. Over 78 percent of them are currently active in one or more loyalty programs. The facts speak for themselves.

  • Sixty-seven percent of are influenced by loyalty programs (Bond)
  • They are 20 percent more comfortable than the average person providing information to participate in programs (Bond)
  • Millennials typically participate in 6.2 programs (Hawk incentives)
  • Fifty percent of millennials expect to receive benefits every few days from premium programs (Loyalty360)

Sell Products with Social Value
Millennials are socially-conscious and want to do business with retailers who sell products they can feel good about purchasing. Most home improvement retailers already sell earth-friendly merchandise such as organic fertilizers, soil, compostable doormats, and energy-efficient lighting. Be sure to include socially-responsible branded products consumers know and trust. Supplement these with organic and top-selling private label brands that offer quality at a value price.

If you operate a garden center, there are even more opportunities to create a unique environment by focusing on small houseplants plants, colorful containers, and hand-made gift items. Consider creating a specially decorated section in your store infused with aromatic scents and unique items that are typically not sold in a big box. Give away cups of organic coffee or hot chocolate, and sell them to make the experience more enjoyable. Here are a few insights from a study conducted by Expedia and the Center for Generational Kinetics:

  • 52 percent of millennials feel it’s important that their values align with their favorite brands
  • 74 percent of Americans value experiences over products, with millennials in the forefront

Use Social Media to Get Feedback
Rather than receiving a call, text, or e-mail, millennials are likely to contact you through social media to offer their feedback. TELUS International, an I.T. solutions company, reports that 40 percent of millennials expect a business to have a social media page that lets them provide their feedback. If this option were not available, they would consider shopping at a different store. The survey notes:

  • 72 percent are more loyal to retailers that respond on social media
  • 62 percent would recommend a retailer that has exceptional social media, even if they were not initially happy with the product or service

Amazon is a prime example of how important the ability to provide feedback is for shoppers. Forty-three percent of millennials surveyed by CouponFollow said their primary reason for shopping on Amazon was the availability of online reviews, 41 percent cited price as the reason they bought on the site.

Be Authentic and Provide Great Service
It’s a sign of the times when customers rank co-ops higher in customer satisfaction and loyalty than the big box home improvement giants who dominate the industry. Millennials value authenticity and are turned off by sales promotions whose sole purpose is to push products they may or may not want to buy. Shopping at the local hardware store is the kind of experience that resonates with younger consumers who see these neighborhood fixtures as a quick place to go to get help and advice for their projects. The prices may be slightly higher, but customers shop with local retailers because they support the community, offer quality products, provide excellent service, and are convenient.

Today, connecting to customers extends to the online shopping experience. A website loaded with products and how-to-information will motivate millennials to come into the store and build a relationship with your sales staff. Younger homeowners may want advice on what products they need to repair, or they may require a service your business provides. They trust that the folks at the hardware store have the experience and expertise to provide them with an answer.

As first published in The Cutting Edge Spring 2020 issue.

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