8 Ways Brands Can Attract and Keep Millennial Customers

What makes a positive shopping experience for Millennials? We ran a mobile video ethnography study to better understand this, and we learned 8 ways brands can make their consumer experience resonate with Millennials. Hint: Personal connection lives on!

Research Objective

Better understand what makes a positive shopping experience for Millennials.

Target Audience

National US sample

16 states

29 cities

Skew female

Millennials (18-34 yrs old)

Mix of socio-economic background & ethnicities

We Learned

Millennials are actually channel-agnostic when it comes to shopping, and retailers need to maximize each platform to build a lasting relationship with this generation. This report highlights eight things you can do to make your consumer experience resonate with Millennials.

In-store is the ultimate relationship opportunity

Millennials (perhaps molded by the customization of online shopping) are impressed by personalized service in store. It’s by far the biggest opportunity for retailers to grow relationships and loyalty by going the extra mile. Your reps are everything here.

I was buying a pair of shoes that were rubber Converse shoes; they were very unique shoes. I bought the shoes that day with a salesperson, and I went back a month later and the salesperson remembered me and she said, “Oh, hi Kendall. How did those shoes work out?”?
I was really overwhelmed and completely impressed that she remembered my name, and then also what specific shoes I had purchased a month back.

~kendall A, 21, Washngton

I struck up a conversation with the [Gamestop] employee that was there – very friendly, very down-to-earth – and he approached me more like a friend instead of a customer. Within a few questions he got to know exactly what my interests were. He was really looking to give me the most for my money, for my time.

~ Markos U, 22, Florida

“Oops” is actually an opportunity!

Acknowledge and fix mistakes immediately, going above and beyond with surprises or bonuses. It’s a great low-cost opportunity to drive loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals, personalize experiences, and build the relationship.

On their website they have a no-return policy. But the customer-service agent was what really impressed me, because she completely understood where I was coming from, and that they want to give me the best product out there.
And so she said, “Listen, I completely understand where you’re coming from. Sorry about that. I hope it never happens again. We’re going to gladly send you a new pair.” That really just blew me away.

~ Zack P, 20, Michigan

I contacted the people [ on Kickstarter] whom I just funded. And they said that my payment went through three times, so they ended up refunding me the first two payments. And they’re going to send a little additional gift to apologize… So I let all my friends know about how reputable the customer service was on Kickstarter.

High touch isn’t too much

Updates, updates, updates make Millennials feel fulfilled, valued, and part of the process (as long as they can opt out).

t arrived in two days and I was like, Holy crap.” [The company’s website] kept me updated. It texted me every time. It went from California to Colorado to my home in Orlando.
Every time it landed somewhere, they text with updates saying, “Hey, your package is here. Don’t worry. It’ll be here on these days.” It got there in two days and that was astounding.

~ Ernesto S, 18, Florida

[Modcloth.com] has a thing where it will say ‘coming soon’ on a new item, and you’re able to sign up on an alert list so that when the item becomes available, they email you immediately because a lot of their items sell out pretty quickly on the site.
I got an email and I was able to order it within the first ten minutes of it becoming available, and got it within three days, and it was perfect. I loved it. their service where they alert you when things are ready is a great bonus of the site.

Earn lifelong relationships today with the wow factor

Millennials are savvy and sometimes jaded consumers; they’ve seen it all. Stop them in their tracks with something new or unexpected, and loyalty is yours.

I purchased a single-serve blender on Amazon.com but the item was defective so I returned the item and they sent me a replacement blender. When I tried the replacement blender, it didn’t work either. So, I contacted Amazon.com and they apologized for the defective item, they replaced the item, and on top of that, they allowed me to keep a portion of the defective item.
Since then, I’ve been a loyal customer of Amazon.com. They have excellent service.

~ Lynn V, 22, Ohio

Always-on availability wins

Millennials think your store is open 24/7 and, thanks to Wikipedia, expect all the info they need instantly. Service in-store and online should match or exceed that expectation, including reps always available for chat.

I was looking at an item online from the Chaco website and it really just impressed me because the people online were super nice.
it was cool that even though customers had bad experiences, Chaco – the website and organization – would actually reply back and say, “Hey, really sorry that happened.Call our number and we can help you.

~ Alisha J, 21, Louisiana

Do them a solid and they’ll WOM you up!

Millennials reward retailers that “understand them” with immediate, glowing, word-of-mouth (WOM) referrals to their social circles. Retailers should consider this praise priceless, as Millennials are generally skeptical consumers and value highest the opinions of those close to them.

My A.C. went out and, as you can tell, I have a child. It was very hot in the house. It was a company called Associated Heating & Air; I thought they did an excellent job. I’ve told multiple people about them.
They were out here within a couple of hours of us calling them. They were the most reasonably priced company, and they were straightforward with everything.

~ Hannah B, 27, Georgia

Added-value service builds loyalty

Extra service and expertise beyond the sale builds equity with Millennials through goodwill, and boosts long-term loyalty and those coveted WOM referrals.

It turns out the guy couldn’t fix [my phone], but he gave it back to me and actually didn’t charge me when I was expecting to be charged. It was like $150. But, it was just great. He was helpful and gave me some tips on getting it replaced because I had to get a whole new phone.
But, it was great. I told my family and friends about it, and I will always go back to them for help with that kind of thing.

~ Amanda D, 29, California

I went in [to Micro Center], and the service was amazing. They took me to exactly where I needed to be, didn’t try to force me to buy one of the more expensive [computer cooling pads].
They told me everything I needed to know about what cooling pads can do, and that I didn’t need something super over-the-top for my problem.

Stand for something and Millennials will stand with you

Cause-marketing builds Millennials’ sense of your brand’s identity, appeals to their inclinations toward social good, and is a big opportunity to broaden engagement. However, your core offering needs to deliver beyond the good deed.

What they are is an organization that works with charities to do what I love to do, and that’s change the world. I found out about them through Twitter – somebody had retweeted a link – and it had a picture of an awesome looking watch.
It was in orange; it looked so cool. I was like, “Man, I’ve got to be a part of this.”

~ Joshua B, 24, Georgia

I just really love Chacos.com, and I tell my friends about it all the time because the product lasts. It’s made in the U.S. which supports local businesses, and that’s what I’m all about, especially when buying products. And they’re just a really great community and are very people-oriented.

Conclusions and Implications

Millennials don’t necessarily prefer any one channel for shopping, and retailers should take advantage of the unique opportunities that various platforms afford them with this audience to build a multifaceted brand experience. In-store experiences present unique opportunities for personalization, the wow factor, and added-value moments; online experiences provide always-on service possibilities, and hightouch that scales.

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