The “140-Characters-or-Less” Generation: Marketing to Millennials

Blog originally posted on Snap Retail’s Blog by Jessica Brown on July 17, 2012

If your store has been around for a few years, you probably have customers who have been loyal shoppers for quite a while. Many of these customers are part of the Baby Boomer generation and respond well to more traditional marketing and advertising.

But there is a new generation in town. When young adults born after the early 1980’s reach 18, they are grouped into a category called “Millennials” or “Generation Y.” Why is it important to focus on this group of customers? While ten years ago they may have been running around your store asking their parents to purchase items FOR them, they now have their own disposable income.

Here are some things to keep in mind when trying to get more Millennials in your doors:

1. They grew up with technology.
When it comes to digital technology, Millennials have a much lower learning curve than their parents’ generation. They grew up with cell phones, computers in school and some may have even read their college textbooks on a screen rather than a page. And they have plenty of ways to access information from anywhere. Millennials are 28% more likely to own a smartphone than the average American adult, and even if they aren’t accessing information from a mobile phone, gadgets such as laptops and tablets offer them alternative ways to plug in! Some fast solutions to their even faster lifestyles:

  • Be sure to mention in your emails that discounts will be included if you show the email at the cash register on a cell phone.
  • Share your sales, news and promotions on social media sites as well as email and traditional media. Luckily, SnapRetail makes this easy for our subscribers!
  • Give Facebook and Twitter-exclusive promotions.
  • Give them the option to buy online with Daily Offers.

2. They have different priorities than older generations.
Since Gen Y covers a wide span of ages, your customers can range anywhere from an 18-year-old girl looking for dorm accessories to a 27-year-old father looking for a gift for his young son. Every customer is different, but had this to say about the spending priorities of young adult consumers: “Whereas older adults prioritized family-focused expenditures… today’s Millennials spend their money on themselves, primarily on technology and travel.”

There IS good news when it comes to Millennial shopping habits. According to a study done by Edelman Digital, 40% of Millennials claimed to prefer buying local, even if that meant paying more for a product. Be sure to appeal to Gen Y preferences by:

  • Putting an emphasis on the “shop local” movement in your marketing messages. Take note of important events such as Independent Retailer month (July) and Small Business Saturday (November).
  • Focus on what products can do for individual customers in your messaging. How will this benefit them and their busy life?

3. They love “sharable” purchases.
When Gen Y loves a product, everyone knows. And if they hate it? The same rule applies. Millennials love to share their product feedback on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and any other way they can think of. Also important to note is that, as much as they love telling others what to buy, they also look to the web to make their own buying decisions. Another Edelman study revealed that 42% of Millennials check four or more sources when they are trying to decide whether to pay for a product or service. This may be due to the way Millenials connect to products and what purchasing these products says about them. According to, “Sharability of the experience and “association” are twice as important to Gen Y as to Boomers. Millennials don’t only think about how they should share their thoughts on a product, they think of how associating themselves with the product will make them look. Give them something to talk about by:

  • Claim online listings on sites such as Yelp, Foursquare and Facebook places and encourage customers to check in and review.
  • Encourage customers to add photos of them using purchases, Tweet at your store to let you know how much they love their purchase or give them other options for making their shopping experience a group experience.

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