While millennials tend to be a favorite punching bag in the news media (they’ve killed cruises, golf, and soap bars, as you’ve heard) they’re also ushering in a new set of consumer standards. The driving force behind organic, gluten-free, and vegan product markets, millennials are simultaneously cautious of the markets that wreaked havoc on the world economy in the 2008 crisis and willing to put down money for brands and products that they believe in.
Millennials overwhelmingly want to consume responsibly and feel valued as customers. As the largest generation in U.S. history, what millennials prefer, demand, and ultimately purchase is having a profound change on the markets, for everything from cosmetics and clothes to cars and furniture. Quite a few of these changes are obvious already.
Just think about how advertising has changed over the past 5 years or so—as a growing number of millennials opt out of owning televisions, advertisers have had to play catch up in an attempt to continue reaching millennials. Social media marketing (hello ads on Facebook!) and influencer marketing is the new standard in advertising; nearly every brand is easy to access directly, for better or for worse, via Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. We can even see restaurants, cafes, and stores upping their game in the interior design department to prompt social media-savvy young people into sharing photos with geotags or hashtags that will increase a brand’s social proof online.
The millennials are indeed changing our retail markets, and the changes are coming fast. Hands down they are the most educated generation our country has seen, and they have the tech savvy to access the wealth of information online to find whatever information they’re looking for—ethical standards of a company, an app to simplify a process, a blog review of a specific product, or coupon codes when online shopping. According to Forbes, 75% of millennials believe it to be important that a company gives back to the community. They also show extreme brand loyalty, and are most drawn to brands that seek to interact with them and create customer-centric shopping experiences.
Millennials are having profound changes on the retail, housing, and investment markets, but don’t forget the other huge trends that have millennials reaching for their wallets. Skinny jeans, full eyebrows, and the revival of the choker are some of the more easily named millennial-driven fashion trends of the past few years, and it’s not just women that are taking part. Millennial men are influencing male fashion in a huge way, most recognizably with the newfound (or found-again?) trendiness of beards. Of course, they don’t want just any beard. They want an expertly groomed beard, and to achieve the look, they’re willing to pay the right companies for the products they want—beard balms, shampoos and conditioners, oils, scissor kits, and razors--the list is long. Types of products like this weren’t even on the mainstream radar 15 years ago, but today they’re a mainstay in many young guys’ medicine cabinets. Provided, that is, that the companies are offering up the customer-centric buying experience and social media outreach that millennials are demanding for their hard-earned money!
This generation indeed lives with different priorities and circumstances than those that came before, and we can see that in their purchasing habits and product or brand preferences. Millennials have huge purchasing power and they’re here to stay for quite some time. These new lessons are there to be learned by all companies, big and small, but they come quickly. Fashion, cosmetics, and food consumption is here to stay, too, but the trends in preferences change as quickly as the trending topics on Twitter. This is the market the millennials want, and they’ll be fueling it for the next several decades. Companies can hop aboard or be left behind, to become a trending topic or a #throwbackthursday memory.