The millennial, you've seen them, distracted, intently staring at their phones unable to maintain direct eye contact. While the start and end dates of the generation are not precise, experts use birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. They've been labeled picky and pesky by some, considered disruptors by most. One thing we know for certain is that their aptitude for all things digital and mobile is shaking up industries to the point where they define them.
Retailers have added them to their laundry list of reasons for soft sales performance. But is all of the hype warranted? The fact is that millennials are not the only generation to embrace technology. However, these savvy consumers are the first generation to use advances in technology to make more informed purchasing decisions, and this is disrupting the
retail landscape and forcing sellers to adapt.
Retailers like Whole Foods and Macy's are testing new store formats aimed at this younger more connected shopper. Criticized for its pricey fare, Whole Foods, in an effort to reach this group recently announced its plans to launch a new, tech-driven store that offers fresh and healthy, low-cost food options.
Some experts advise companies to hold on, and resist the temptation to transform business strategies in an effort to reach this group. Millennials have their own unique set of circumstances. Many of them are financially strapped, shelling out more of their income on educational spending. They've also experienced more declines in real income than any other age group over the last 40 years.
With that said, there is still no denying the buying power of this super group. It is estimated that today's "millennial in the U.S will spend upwards of
$1.4 trillion a year by 2020, accounting for 30% of total US retail sales."
Are millennials that different from generations past- no, they simply have the ability to make more informed decisions , and retailers need to ensure they are providing a seamless experience, via all channels, and that includes enabling customers to interact with their business on a mobile basis. Those that fail to do so will find their business… disrupted.
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With e-commerce becoming increasingly prevalent, social shaking things up and brick-and-mortar-focused retailers stepping up their online game, 2017 will prove to be an interesting year for retail.