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What millennials’ online shopping habits mean for your ecommerce strategy

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According to Forbes, millennials are currently “poised to be the nation’s biggest spenders, as they move into their prime earning and spending years”. As a result, millennials’ online shopping habits are often the focus of online retailers’ ecommerce strategies. But do you really understand their purchasing behaviors as well as you think?

Born between 1980-1994, the Millenial is often typecast as an entitled 20-something who is still financially dependent on their parents. However, in 2020, those in their late 30s now fall into the Millennial category. Many, if not most, have children, mortgages, and careers. They didn’t necessarily grow up with ecommerce in the way that Gen Z has. 

What matters to millenials when they shop?

Sustainability and social responsibility is notably more important to millennials when compared to previous generations. A generic CSR policy isn’t going to cut it, they want to know which causes your company cares about and supports, and how they align with their own views. A Nielson report found that 74% of millennials were more likely to buy from a brand that supports the social issues they care about. 

Customer-centricity is also key to millennial brand loyalty. 60% of millennials state they are loyal to brands they currently purchase from if treated well. The flipside of this is, they move on quickly if your customer service or shopping experience doesn’t live up to their expectations. As a generation, they shop around online to research and compare prices, and  66% say they would switch brands if offered a 30% discount.

What matters less than you might think? 

A report by Accenture identified social media as one of the commonly misunderstood channels when it comes to marketing to millennials. Yes, they are active on social media, and many do engage with brands on various networks. However, most view the relationships as purely transactional. 

“Marketers, who are relentless scorekeepers, can easily mistake a pressed “like” button for far more than it really is—which, from the millennials’ perspective, is basically a way to find the best offers,” according to the report. It takes hard work to build authentic relationships with millennials through social media, their feeds are flooded and retailers must differentiate to build loyalty and a sense of community around their brands. 

No one size fits all solution

Don’t make assumptions when it comes to millennials’ online shopping habits. Even grouping the entire generation under one umbrella is a mistake. A 40 year old does not shop in the same way as a 26 year old, so taking a one size fits all approach isn’t necessarily going to work. Personalization and segmentation is key to keeping your messaging relevant to the entire cohort of millenials. 

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