What Retail Brands Can Expect From Millennial Shoppers This Black Friday

Surprising to some, they're more likely to shop in-store this year

It's expected that this Black Friday shopping season will be bigger than last year's.
Getty Imagese

Black Friday is getting closer, and with it is the start of what’s expected to be a robust shopping season. As it does, retailers are betting that millennials will drive significant sales during the 2018 holidays.

Consumers plan to spend more than they did last year, and 60 percent of retailers anticipate that they’ll outperform holiday season 2017. That’s according to a recent survey of over 1,000 U.S. shoppers and more than 200 senior managers in retail.

The same survey found that more than 57 percent of retailers plan to focus most of their holiday marketing on millennials. There’s a good reason for that. According to Accenture, the U.S. has 80 million millennials, and they spend about $600 billion each year.

Millennials could make or break retailers’ results for the shopping holiday that starts on Thanksgiving week and extends through Cyber Monday. However, the newest findings on attracting millennial shoppers go against some of the stereotypes about this generation.

Forty-two percent of the millennials surveyed said they're likely to visit a physical store on Thanksgiving Day.

Create a memorable experience

We tend to associate millennials with online shopping, but the recent survey of shoppers and retailers has good news for brick-and-mortar stores: 42 percent of the millennials surveyed said they’re likely to visit a physical store on Thanksgiving Day. That’s the highest percentage among any age group. What’s behind this figure? One possible reason is the value millennials place on experiences. More than one-third of millennials agree that shopping in-store during the holidays is a fun family activity for them.

The focus for brick-and-mortar retailers then becomes making that experience an awesome one. We’re seeing more stores pay attention to creating Instagram-worthy displays or photo ops and even presenting special events like celebrity or influencer appearances and entertainment. According to a survey by ROTH Capital Partners, 71 percent of millennials said a “significantly enhanced” retail experience would cause them to shop in-store frequently and buy more.

Providing a memorable experience also means offering stellar service even amid the holiday crowds. Compared with baby boomers and Gen X, millennials say they’re more likely to spend money with a retailer known for great customer service. Retailers who can fine-tune their consumer interactions have the opportunity to capture more of that millennial spend.

Make shopping easy

While millennials want their holiday shopping to be fun, they also want it to be easy and efficient. Eighty-nine percent of them say it’s important to have their gift purchases in hand as soon as possible, and half of the millennials who said they’re more likely to purchase in-store during the holidays say they like going to physical stores because they can complete their gift buying more quickly. Additionally, 40 percent say they don’t want the hassles of worrying about items not arriving on time that can accompany online shopping.

To respond to these preferences, brick-and-mortar retailers can emphasize speed and convenience in their messaging and make sure that popular gifts are in stock so that shoppers won’t have to go away empty-handed. Some stores, such as Walmart, are even offering free in-store pickup for online orders as well as their recently launched Check Out With Me program, which allow shoppers to make purchases in high traffic areas with mobile checkout scanners.

Promote your deals

There’s one more expectation millennials have as they begin buying holiday gifts, and it’s a big one: deals. Overall, 87 percent of shoppers plan to look for bargains during their holiday shopping. But for millennials, that number is 93 percent. You can bet that digitally savvy millennials have done their research online to find the best deals before they shop, Accenture reports.

Retailers should make sure they’re getting the word out wherever millennials look for deals. And from initial research about the 2018 holiday shopping season, it sounds like they’re doing just that. In the consumer/retailer survey, most retailers said they’re focusing on mobile and social investments over other channels.

Overall, we’re seeing a picture emerge of millennials as smart shoppers with high expectations. The retailers who can meet those expectations stand to benefit the most from what’s likely to be a strong holiday shopping season.

Recommended articles