Digital StrategyMarketing

Will the Real Millennial Shoppers Please Stand Up?

By December 15, 2015 No Comments

Millennial shoppers may not be who you think they are.

In fact, new data from Accenture shows that retailers do not understand this valuable demographic and, as a consequence, are failing to deliver a valuable shopping experience that earns loyal customers.

Who are millennials?

Before we can discuss how millennials prefer to shop retail, we need to first understand who qualifies for this generation.

Millennials are those born between 1980 and 2000. Many of them are in their 20s and 30s, with full-time jobs and their own homes and families.

This makes them a powerful influence on the retail sector, with the group collectively spending $600 billion annually in the U.S. alone.

How do they prefer to shop?

While the millennial generation has been labeled as the digital generation – only seeking out retailer information on their phones and computers – the fact is millennial shoppers actually prefer to shop in brick-and-mortar establishments.

In fact, the millennial shopping experience is like a hybrid of digital and in-store. This audience uses retailer websites to research products and services, they use mobile devices in the store to compare in-store and online pricing, and they visit stores to check items out for themselves, use coupons, and do further research.

For retailers, this means in order to court millennial customers, an integrated, seamless shopping experience must be in place across digital and in-store channels.

But are they loyal?

Retailers commonly believe that millennials are not loyal customers. For some reason, this generation has been labeled as flippant and non-committal.

Fortunately for the retail industry, loyalty is not an area where millennial shoppers fall short. In fact, Accenture research shows these buyers can be extremely loyal to brands that treat them with respect and personalized shopping experiences.

What about social media?

Retailers have grown up over the last few years with the notion that millennials’ social media interactions parallel their shopping preferences.

So it may come as a shock to some that this is not always the case. In fact, most millennials view social media relationships as transactional. This means they are looking to social media for retailers’ discounts and special offers.

Of course, in order to get more eyeballs on these offers, retail brands need to be talked about on social media. Creating a positive, ongoing conversation around the brand seems to resonate with the millennial generation.


The real millennial shoppers are those who value relationships – both online and in-person – and look for high-quality products and services. When retailers are able to deliver this experience seamlessly across all channels, they begin to see young buyers become repeat buyers and loyal customers.

What are some other assumptions you have about millennials and retail? Have they been challenged?