Russell Haswell

Vice President of Retail

From napkins to banks, the list of sectors that millennials are rethinking seems never ending. While it’s enough to make marketers believe that brand loyalty among millennials is dead, it’s actually the opposite. In fact, millennials are the most loyal generation of buyers. More than 50 percent report that they’re extremely or quite loyal to their favorite brands and 64 percent rate themselves as more loyal to a brand than their parents’ generation.

This powerful buying demographic spends more than $65 billion each year and influences an upward of $1 trillion in total consumer spending. As a retailer, if your strategy doesn’t already focus on targeting millennial shoppers it may be too late. The key to creating brand advocates from this lucrative demographic is digging through data to gain insights (millennials and Gen Z like to give feedback,and a lot of it).
Below are three key practices that can help retailers leverage their own customer data and insights to understand how millennials buy and drive successful outcomes.

1. Commit to innovative customer experiences
Visit any Apple store and you will see a sea of young, energetic workers ready to help customers. The innovative retailer has even gotten rid of the most annoying part of shopping — waiting in line to checkout – by allowing anyone with an Apple Store app to check themselves out without a store associate. Millennials want both independence and quality human interaction, and this approach delivers both.
So much of creating an innovative customer experience relies on a company’s willingness to experiment, just like Apple. Retailers should look through as much customer data as possible to identify where their pain points are and determine if they can be fixed by tools that empower younger buyers to own more of the customer experience.
2. Provide peer-to-peer employee feedback
Research suggests that millennials crave feedback in the office. For retail employees, this feedback should come both from management and customers. It will help to create an authentic connection between the brand and its customers.

To maximize millennial feedback, companies need to capture the data from their customers and immediately connect it back to their employees for self-coaching. This valuable data can prove to be an asset during employee reviews as a part of development plans and recognition and a clear message is sent to both customers and employees that their input is valuable and makes a difference.
3. Create communities and human interactions
A Harris Group study reveals that 72 percent of millennials would rather spend money on experiences than material goods. This means that retailers must deliver more than just a product/purchase transaction. A retailer has two communities: the local store and the distributed brand. Create communities by evolving offerings and experiences that drive consumers to the store and make them crave the brand.

Creating an in-store community produces energy that is addictive and in turn helps bring in valuable foot traffic.Today you can try the newest mascara at Sephora, test out climbing shoes on a rock wall at Dick’s Sporting Goods, or enjoying a latte in Nordstrom’s cafe. With 56 percent of young buyers making purchases based on recommendations from friends or family, successful retailers are curating experiences that are Instagram-worthy and spread the message.