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How millennials are changing shopping patterns

With millennials poised to become the most powerful demographic in terms of purchasing power, retailers need to understand how Generation Y is interacting differently with retail, technology, and the overall experience of shopping. To capture a share of their spending, retailers need to know how to change their patterns and be accessible to this new demographic.
These shoppers have grown up with technology at their fingertips, and are entirely comfortable with its application in their day-to-day lives.

Let’s look at the ways in which millennials are altering traditional shopping patterns.

Convenience is key

Although they have a reputation for being lazy and inconsiderate, millennials as a group are actually extremely busy and struggle to move away from their homes. Many of them work while in college, work multiple jobs, or are raising families while both parents work full time. In order to get everything done, millennials are looking for convenience in many different ways.

They love using technology to do things like self-checkout in a variety of stores, use digital payment options on their smartphones, or shop online and pickup at the store to avoid lines and time spent.

Socialisation is key

Millennials are willing to negotiate their salary, but unlike their elders, they are much more likely to spend it on experiences than they are on items. Going out with friends, organising a game night, seeing a movie or a live music show are all popular with this set.

They also expect to have social interactions with brands. These can take many forms; articles shared with them from their heroes, special discounts or flash sales advertised through Snapchat and other platforms. Millennials love to feel like they’re getting special, insider information, and cultivating that sense through social media can give a brand a huge boost.

Personalised approach

For all that millennials are looking for convenient solutions, they also expect to see personalised service and recommendations. They know that companies are collecting big data about their shopping habits, and they want that data to be used for a purpose. It’s not enough for a store to suggest items that are vaguely similar to what a customer was looking at; the customer wants to be shown items that the store can extrapolate they might like based on the last ten things they looked at.

Another key benefit to offer millennials can be credit card perks for their holiday shopping. Make sure to give broad opportunities to receive rewards; whereas boomers might have been lured in with the promise of a new TV, millennials may be more excited about dining out or booking plane tickets.

Millennials find alternative payment methods safer

In the early days of the internet, online shopping meant giving your credit card to any website that you wanted to shop with. As various websites have consolidated and improved their offerings, a few specific payment options have begun to attract attention. For smaller websites, they may see better sales from offering options like PayPal or Amazon payments, rather than requiring customers to enter their credit card information at each website.

Many businesses are also seeing benefits from using specific apps that combine payment methods and rewards. Customers often pay for gift cards that are stored on their phone in the app; at the store, they scan a barcode on their phone to pay. This often benefits the store as well, since they don’t need to pay credit card processing fees.

Millennials in general are responding very well towards the trend to use their smartphone as a digital wallet. Their phones go everywhere with them, providing entertainment, social connections, and news. It makes sense for them to also carry their payment information in one convenient place.

Primary internet access via smartphones

If companies still use a website that is primarily focused towards desktop design, they are not catering to what should be their primary market. It is absolutely crucial for companies to have a mobile responsive website design, and make sure that it works on a variety of devices.

Companies should be careful, however, about limiting the functions that the mobile site can provide. Millennials expect to be able to complete all the same functions on their smartphone that they could on the desktop site, so making those functions impossible or difficult to find will hurt a company.

Millennials will be the next important market segment for businesses, and companies that want to be successful in an ongoing way will need to understand their motivations and how to market to them. The good news is that, while millennials are often treated as an inscrutable demographic that exists to bewilder companies, the truth is that their behaviour is fairly consistent, if companies accept some simple facts.

When businesses acknowledge that millennials are in a worse economic position then their elders, and know it, and are going to do their best to succeed and enjoy it anyway, their choices to favour human connection and experience instead of amassing stuff makes plenty of sense.

What has your company done to market to millennials and cater to their shopping patterns?

12 Sep 2017 12:30


About Boris Dzhingarov

Boris Dzhingarov graduated UNWE with a major in marketing. He is the CEO of ESBO ltd brand mentioning agency. He writes for several online sites such as,,, Boris is the founder of and