4 Ideas for Selling to the Millennial Generation

The Great Recession caused millennials to postpone many milestones normally associated with adulthood. As the economy bounces back, so have our millennials. They’re establishing careers, getting married, buying homes, and having children.

As this diverse, tech-savvy generation asserts its purchasing power, retailers need to understand how to attract and retain this unique demographic.

Who Are They and Why Are They Unique?

The millennial generation was born between 1979 and 2000. According to estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, millennials make up the largest share of the adult population. Their numbers have overtaken both Generation X (1965 – 1980), and the baby boomers (1945 – 1965).

As the first generation to grow up with access to the internet, technology is a central part of their lives.

Millennials are comfortable and capable when it comes to doing research before making a purchase.

Access to product and merchant reviews makes these shoppers discerning and extremely well informed.

Even with all the purchasing options available to them, millennials recognize and value a positive shopping experience. They respond well to service staff who understand their needs.

4 Ways to Get Better at Selling to the Millennial Generation

1. An Online Option

The shopping process for millennials often begins with a web search. If you have a website that gives detailed information about your business and the products you sell, that’s great. If the site is mobile friendly and allows the users to buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS), even better.

Retailers focused on selling to the millennial generation have found that BOPIS does a great job of doing something they find vitally important — getting shoppers through the door.

BOPIS is attractive to customers because it allows them to bypass the lines at the checkout counter and eliminates the potential wait and expense of having an item delivered.

Research from the Farnsworth Group shows a surprising 70% of the people that purchased using BOPIS made an additional purchase once inside the store. This makes the  BOPIS option a win-win for both customer and retailer.

For BOPIS to be completely successful, you’ll need to have a clearly designated spot for customers to pick up their online purchase. Make it easy for customers to pay for any impulse buys by installing a point of sale terminal at the pickup location.

2. Be Responsive

The Farnsworth Group points out that millennials are above average do-it-yourselfers. They’re also self-reliant. Smartphones have made it possible for millennials to get answers in real-time to many questions they have about the projects they want to do.

When they come to your store looking for advice, fast access to friendly, knowledgeable staff members that take the time to understand their needs is high on their list of priorities.

It’s not that millennials are impatient. Like most people, they value their time and want to make the most of it. With a little planning, this can work in the retailers’ favor.

Provide signage or handouts that list all the products needed to complete a variety of do-it-yourself projects.

Not only will you satisfy their need for information delivered quickly, you’ll also open these customers up to add-on sales.

By anticipating and satisfying their need for information about the projects they plan to undertake, you can make selling to the millennial generation easier and more profitable at the same time.

3.) Avoid the Hard Sell

A study by Elite Daily points out that millennials tend to be loyal customers. Before you can gain their loyalty, you have to gain their trust.

Millennials want a thorough understanding of the product or group of products they are considering and how it suits their needs.

When selling to the millennial generation, the role of salesperson needs to be more of an advisor or collaborator than a seller of goods and services.

Let them know you’re concerned about their needs by listening to the details of the project they want to do and ask additional questions if necessary. Make your recommendations based on the information received.

If millennials feel they’re being steered toward something that’s not in their best interest, it will be perceived as inauthentic and you’ll lose them and the sale. To prevent this from happening, lay out their options, explain the benefits of each, and let them choose.

When catering to a group that values and uses social media regularly, keep in mind that the details of your interaction may be shared with others.

Listen closely when selling to the millennial generation and do your best to show that you care about their needs more than your bottom line. If you take good care of your millennials, the bottom line will take care of itself.

4. Get Socially Active

Even though millennials prefer to communicate via text messages, instant messages, or email, they really do want to know who they are dealing with.

Build and maintain a page on Facebook or another social media platform to provide millennials and all your customers with content that might be interesting.

Use social media as a platform to display pictures of your store, inside and out, along with new products or services that might be of interest. Make it a point to tell a story to educate or enlighten site visitors on a regular basis. If they find your content useful or amusing in some way, they are likely to share it with others.

If your business supports a charity or social cause, be sure to let your customers know about it. Many millennials like doing business with a company that gives back to the community or supports a cause they can get behind.

Social media gives you a place to showcase positive reviews about your business. When there is a post to your page praising your business, be quick to post a thank you to show your appreciation.

Although the prospect of getting a negative review on social media sounds like a terrible thing to deal with, the way you respond to an unhappy customer can do wonders for your reputation. A measured and thoughtful reply that shows your commitment to customer service and demonstrates your ability and willingness to address negative comments and work toward a solution.

When this conversation between you and your customers is visible, it builds trust and adds to your credibility. This is exactly the type of interaction millennials want to see.

The Takeaway

After a slow start resulting from economic upheavals beyond their control, millennials are ready to take their place as the pacesetter in the broader consumer economy.

Their ability to access information quickly has made this group well informed and discriminating when it comes to making purchasing decisions.

Millennials value speed and convenience. Their ability to access information quickly to satisfy their curiosity has raised their expectations when it comes to making purchases. A strong web presence at a minimum, and buy online, pickup in store option, whenever possible, will be required to engage this tech-savvy group.

Selling to the millennial generation requires a shift away from the standard sales approach to one of advice and collaboration. They’re happy to spend money with you once they believe that you care about their needs.

Millennials might have expectations that cause retailers to up their game. By making the effort to meet or exceed these expectations, retailers will create greater opportunities for themselves going forward.

George Maginnis

Author