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Shopping Habits of Millennials

Dubbed ‘the digital natives’, millennials are the early adopters of the latest technology advances, being the first generation to typically grow up with computers in their homes. Many millennials enjoy access to a 250+ TV channel universe and find their dependencies lie in a commoditised social network sphere where they are constantly on the cusp of the latest news and trends. With a multitude of channels reaching generation Y-ers, it’s hardly surprising that vendors are frantic to tap into the shopping behaviour of this demographic and convert them into loyal customers. It’s reported that by 2018, millennials will have the most spending power over any generation, demonstrating just how much a significant mark millennials have on their demographic when it comes to shopping.

Gaining the custom of generation Y requires retailers to often go against the grain of traditional eCommerce marketing, with Hubspot reporting that 84% of millennials don’t trust ‘traditional’ advertising – such as magazine ads, cold calling and direct mail campaigns. The path to purchase for millennials is constantly changing and evolving, but there are some things we do know about this digital generation:

Millennials are loyal shoppers

…or they at least they want to reap the benefits that loyalty programmes offer. A significant 77% of millennials say they actively participate in loyalty programmes, meaning a business can instantly boost appeal by offering a loyalty scheme that provides exclusive benefits to those signed up.

Despite millennials steadily becoming the demographic with the most buying power, this does not imply that generation Y as a collective are the most wealthy shoppers. With this in mind, it’s important for millennials to have the ability to build up an arsenal of ‘reward points’, to lead to discounted items and benefits otherwise not available as a non-member. Even the most promiscuous shoppers can be converted to loyalty shoppers if schemes are convenient and appealing.

Reward programmes are mutually beneficial, not only posing an attraction for millennial shoppers, but also giving retailers the opportunity to benefit from repeat purchases, with eMarketer reporting that one-third of millennials buy something they don’t want, or need, just to increase their points count or membership status.

mCommerce dominates purchase journeys

This may not come as a surprise, as mCommerce continues to grow at a rapid rate – 300% faster than the entirety of the eCommerce sector – but 63% of millennials claim to shop on their phones, every day, giving retailers ample opportunity to exploit this consumer behaviour by delivering seamless mobile shopping experiences.

Offering a sophisticated mobile site that doesn’t restrict users is key to delivering a successful [glossary_exclude]mCommerce strategy. Targeting mobile ads is an effective way to reach out to generation Y, but if the ads lead to a poorly-designed mobile landing page, the user will return back to the SERP and find an alternative, more suitable option – which may just be a competitor.

Investing in a mobile site which boasts responsive UX offers great opportunities, with 40% of smartphone users surveyed saying they have used their device to complete a purchase. This article – a beginner’s guide to mobile strategy – separates segments for consideration when plotting an effective mCommerce strategy.

Authentic content is key

Millennials spend an average of 25 hours a week online, with a vast majority of this time spent scouring blogs, social media and websites, as millennials are out seeking the latest news, trends and updates. Not only is generation Y actively seeking authentic content, but they’re sharing it to an online community, through snapping, Tweeting and pinning things to their social profiles. Young shoppers’ attitudes and habits are widely inspired by influencers and online communities, and they trust relevant, authentic opinions from real product users they can relate to, with 84% of millennials saying user-generated content has at least some influence on what they buy,

By speaking the language of generation Y, and distributing unique content that is more than just typical sales copy egging on the consumer to purchase a product, brands can start to successfully nurture a relationship with this sought out demographic and bring something fresh and innovative to an otherwise over-saturated marketplace.


To understand these savvy Millennial shoppers, vendors need to ensure they are effectively keyed into digital trends and are exposing the brand on all the relevant channels. With millennials set to have a major impact on eCommerce spending, it’s time for retailers to invest in new, modernised ways to speak to an audience who mostly listen to content that’s not only authentic but tailored to them personally.

With tech trends continually evolving, and expectations from generation Y shoppers becoming more compliant to the latest digital happenings, retailers have to remain vigilant to all things innovative, and follow the lead of these digital natives to truly experience success in this consumer demographic.  

In your industry, what millennial shopping habits have you picked up on? Share in the comments section below or Tweet @mporiumgroup.

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