No matter what type of market your business serves, knowing your audience is one of the most critical components for your success as a marketing professional. To be successful, you need to know more than what your customers need or want — you need to understand why. There’s more to their motivations than material needs or desires. In turn, their shopping habits are driven by the environment and culture into which these individuals were born. Every generation experiences a wide range of cultural, political and economic forces that all contribute to shaping their buying habits.
This has been proven time and time again. Those who lived through the Great Depression, for example, tended to be extremely careful with their money. On the other hand, baby boomers who came up during the post-World War II era of prosperity were much more likely to have looser spending habits. It’s also true today, as millennials and Gen-Z have been found to have their own unique purchasing behaviors that define who they are as consumers. These two generations combine to encompass nearly 150 million Americans, a large market that commands the attention of marketers.
When it comes to tailoring your marketing efforts to meet the needs of these shoppers, you need to delve deep into how their behavior has been shaped and the factors that feed into them. One of the most important of these is the rise of online shopping. Whereas previous generations may have viewed e-commerce as a gimmick or a value-added cohort to brick-and-mortar stores, millennials and Gen-Z have fully embraced it and consider it their default retail experience.
Combined with their use of social media for communicating with each other as well as with brands, this makes digital marketing even more important. Read on to learn more about what influences these younger generations into making the choices they do as consumers.
Understanding the Millennial Mindset
Millennials are currently the largest single age group in the United States, totaling more than 75 million people. The buying power they bring to the market is staggering, but it requires some savvy for marketers to harness it. Perhaps more than any other prior generation, the millennial generation considers the social and moral impact of their purchases when shopping. This means they want brands to align with their values and beliefs, eschewing those they believe don’t stack up to them. They also say they will value ethical consumption over a product’s price. If you want to capture this segment, you need to make a case that your products or services have a positive impact on the world.
Millennials also have incorporated technology into their daily lives to a much higher degree than their parents. An overwhelming majority of them say they buy online on a regular basis, and a significant portion say social media influences their buying decisions. As a marketer trying to reach these shoppers, you will need to spread your messaging across multiple platforms, including social media and email.
Another distinguishing characteristic of the millennial shopper is that he or she values convenience and value-added services. For example, nearly half say they would consider making a purchase if free shipping was offered. They’re also more likely to think about subscribing to a service rather than making a single purchase for full ownership. This should inspire you to offer free shipping and delivery, making timeliness and savings front and center. Also, providing a subscription-based business model — such as gift boxes — is a worthy endeavor. These are just a sampling of the many qualities that make millennials unique in terms of how you should market to them.
Grappling With Gen-Z
Although Gen-Z is still emerging as a force to be reckoned with in the marketplace, there’s no doubt that it will be dominant when it reaches its full potential. Together, they currently have buying power of more than $143 billion, and they’re just getting started. Like the generation before them, they also value the convenience of online shopping to the in-person experience, but there are some differences in how and why they shop on the internet.
For example, more than three-fourths of Gen-Z shoppers say they use online shopping to find products from new or smaller companies they otherwise would not have known or couldn’t locate in person. This is part of a larger trend of these shoppers actively seeking out brands and companies that are off the beaten path. In fact, approximately half of them say they prefer to look for locally sourced products whenever possible. More than a third of them also say that they enjoy buying from companies that match up with their social and political beliefs, making choices based on how these brands support certain causes.
When it comes to reaching these young consumers, it’s important to highlight any social awareness or activism in which your company might engage. One of the most prominent examples of this is sustainability. A campaign that features educational content about the steps you take to reduce your environmental footprint can be a powerful motivator for these individuals.
The younger generations bring a substantial amount of economic power to the marketplace, and it’s up to you to figure out how best to reach them. Concentrating your efforts on discovering what motivates and inspires them is perhaps the most crucial step you can take on your road to marketing success. To learn more about the purchasing behaviors of millennials and Gen-Z, take a look at the accompanying resource.
Author bio: Jay Catlin is CEO at AMS Fulfillment, a leading order fulfillment company servicing B2B and B2C clients nationwide. Catlin has been with the company since 2002 and helped grow AMS into the successful third-party fulfillment entity it is today.