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Is Millennial Shopping Behavior Really That Different?

Sometimes, I groan when I hear the term millennial in a marketing conversation. At our office, I’m surrounded by millennials, so the work ethic and entitlement stereotypes make me cringe. Everyone I know that age is busting their butt and optimistic about their future. I love millennials – but I don’t think they’re sprayed with magic dust that makes them too different from anyone else.

The millennials I work with are fearless… much like I was at that age. The only difference I truly see is not one of age; it’s of circumstance. Millennials are growing up in a time when technological advancements are accelerating. Combine optimism, courage, and available technology; of course, we’ll see unique behaviors emerge. To my point:

73% of millennials purchase directly on their smartphones.

Because they are young and have not yet accumulated wealth, the buying power per millennial is not as great as that of older generations, but the number of millennials is growing. And as their wealth and numbers grow, this population segment cannot be ignored.

Not too long ago, you may have heard the avocado toast incident, where a typhoon stated millennials couldn’t afford things because they were wasting their money on luxuries they could not afford. According to a Bank of America Merrill Edge study, millennials are much more likely to prioritize travel, dining, and gym membership over their financial future. I’m not sure this is an example of millennials being irresponsible; it may mean that our younger generation values certain experiences much more than others.

This goes in stride with millennials spending money with companies that meet their environmental and social beliefs. If you have less money and hope to make more impact, spending an evening with friends at a neighborhood cafe serving coffee from sustainable sources that donate to their community makes perfect sense. Thanks to the Internet and social media, these purchase decisions can easily be researched – not so when I was young!

If they like your brand, they’ll sing your praises to everyone they know. If they don’t, they will be quick to call you out. What do these millennial shopping trends mean for retailers? It means standing behind quality products. It’s learning how to connect with the demand of different audiences. Being proactive rather than reactive will go a long way to improve brand loyalty, increase customer retention, and generate more revenue. 


Learn about how millennials are changing the shopping landscape and the best ways to connect with the generation.

Millennial Shopping Behavior

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is CMO of OpenINSIGHTS and the founder of the Martech Zone. Douglas has helped dozens of successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to assist companies in implementing and automating their sales and marketing strategies. Douglas is an internationally recognized digital transformation and MarTech expert and speaker. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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