Four Key Takeaways from the Millennial Panel
Offer more payment methods
As mentioned previously in this blog, the panellists continued to voice their need for retailers to meet their preferred payment methods.
A Chinese millennial mentioned the shift of WeChat Pay from China to HK and that the city needs to begin to widely adopt this form of payment due to the existing and convenient ecosystem that’s already in place.
Another student millennial mentioned that they didn’t even own a credit card. Retailers need to think of alternatives in order to make online shopping accessible for everyone, such as ‘cash on delivery’ (see Nike HK as example).
My time is valuable
Millennials are impatient and we all know that – but what’s striking is that they also view their time to be valuable.
When asked of their thoughts on marketing events held by retailers, the panellists disfavour them and would only consider visiting should it provide any benefits (eg freebies, discounts).
This same theme also surfaces in the discussion around in-store vs online shopping, especially for those retailers like Zara that do both. Given the two options, the millennials stated they would rather choose to shop in-store due to the immediacy of attaining the product. If it was urgent they would be willing to pay extra for next-day delivery when shopping online.
One thing the millennials agreed on unanimously was the fact that service in stores could be unpleasant due to overbearing sales staff constantly following shoppers around and their hostile approach.
The panellist found such behaviour to be a major turnoff and would want to quickly complete their purchases without any contact – to the point where many favoured a self-service approach instead (as per Philip’s concept of ‘do-it-yourself instead of do-it-for-me’ – see below)
Retailers need to take note and revamp their services and training for their front-line staff for a more personable and friendly approach, in addition to recognising loyal customers and personalising their experiences.
As simple as it sounds, retailers just need to offer free wifi to their consumers in stores – preferably without any questions asked or forms to fill in. With free wifi, millennials would be more open to interacting with the retailer whether it be an app download or liking a Facebook page. Because after all, they much rather spend their limited data allowances on browsing Instagram than downloading your app…
Moving beyond millennials
In his presentation, Philip shared his thoughts on how we need to move the millennial discussion on to also focus on the demographic cohort that comes after that: Gen Z.
The millennial generation spans 15 years, but those on the older end of the scale are radically different from younger millennials and it does not make sense to focus on them as a single group. Philip proposed that the next generation of customers could be better defined as late millennials (born from 1993) and early Gen Z (born 1997 to 2002).
It is the next generation that will have the biggest impact on the retail sector, not only as many of them still live at home and influence household purchasing decisions, but also as they impact the behaviours of older age groups. As such, their demands and expectations of retailers will filter down to other demographics.
Philip then went on to highlight how the next generation of customers prefer to engage with retailers in four key areas.
Younger consumers today prefer to spend on experiences such as travel and leisure rather than products. Social media has much to answer for – obviously if you’re going to share a post, you need to be out there doing something. Retailers need to think about how they can transition from selling products to selling experiences if they are to succeed.
Personalisation is another area where the next generation of customers have high expectations. They don’t find it creepy if a retailer is able to customise the shopping experience by utilising data such as their online purchasing history.
However, personalisation has not evolved beyond basic product recommendations for many retailers. A more sophisticated approach would be to take a more contextual approach in order to truly anticipate what a customer wants. Personalisation should also be extended into offers and promotions.
Shift towards ‘do it for me’
Younger consumers are tech-savvy and used to doing everything on their smartphones. Because of this, they are becoming a of generation of DIYers, as they would rather do things themselves than have things spoonfed to them. That includes the way they want to interact with retailers: younger shoppers prefer to take control of the customer experience, for instance through automation and self-service options in stores.
Access rather than ownership
The sharing economy – think of services like Uber and Spotify – resonates well with the next generation of customers as they are interested in having access to products and services rather than ownership.
The popularity of such services, means that other business models have become viable within the retail sector as well and these are known as ‘retail as a service’. Examples of these include curated subscription services such as Trunk Club and the Rent The Runway fashion rental business.