- Chris Franz/Getty Images
Retailers are obsessed with millennials. Stores are consistently trying to cater to this generally elusive demographic.
Sometimes, when retailers try so desperately to lure this desirable (albeit generally broke) demographic, they make bizarre mistakes. Other times, they get it right.
Here’s what retailers do that millennials love – and hate.
Hit: Gourmet Pizza
- Melia Robinson/Business Insider
“You may have three roommates. You may not own a house … But you can splurge and get a really awesome pizza,” millennial expert and marketing strategist Jason Dorsey of The Center for Generational Kinetics told Business Insider earlier this summer. “And added to this great equalizer [is] uniqueness, which is just fabulous.” These specialty pizza places include up-and-coming restaurant chains like Pieology, Blaze Pizza, and Chipotle’s Pizzeria Locale.
Miss: Pseudo-gourmet pizza
- Pizza Hut
Remember when Pizza Hut attempted to overhaul its business and cater to millennials by offering pseudo-gourmet toppings like honey Sriracha sauce and Peruvian cherry tomatoes – and it totally backfired?
“Unfortunately, we haven’t been as effective as we’ve liked with our marketing and need to balance its appeal to millennials with mainstream pizza customers,” Greg Creed, CEO of parent company Yum Brands, told investors at a conference covered by Nation’s Restaurant News.
This summer, the company got back to its over-the-top roots with the ridiculous hot-dog crust pizza.
Hit: Buying cars … online
“Millennials are buying cars in record numbers online and through services from ebay to truecar.com because the traditional retail experience doesn’t play to how millennials like to buy,” Dorsey explained to Business Insider.
Miss: Traditional car-buying experiences
- Flickr / Brian Teutsch
Millennials don’t like “being treated like a number combined with high-pressure sales tactics. The best example of this is the traditional car-buying experience,” Dorsey said.
He added that “walking into a retail environment where people size you up and you get a salesperson who follows you like a shadow and then you sit in an office where they try to sell you financing options and upgrades pretty much hits everything that millennials don’t like.”
Hit: Fast, casual food
- Chipotle on Instagram
Millennials’ preferred dining option? Fast casual. It’s easy, it’s quick, it’s cheap, and it’s healthier than traditional than traditional fast food. (Think McDonald’s – even though millennials really do eat there, they just don’t want you to know it.)
Chipotle is the beacon of fast-casual food, with its focus on sustainability and high-quality products.
Miss: Not having free Wi-Fi in your cool restaurant
- Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider
“Millennials also do not like retail experiences where free Wi-Fi is expected but not offered. While this may not be expected in an apparel store it’s absolutely expected at a restaurant,” Dorsey said.
Hit: Not having to talk to people (or using emojis instead)
- Public domain
“[The] best example is Domino’s pizza where over 50% of their orders are now placed through technology. They introduced “Dom” your virtual pizza-ordering assistant, and you can order pizza using a certain emoji on Twitter. Brilliant! Now millennials can order without having to talk to a human and via the technology they’re likely already accustomed to using for everything else,” Dorsey explained.
Miss: Your boring app
“Millennials also aren’t going to download your mobile app just because you made one,” Dorsey said. “So many retailers invested in mobile apps, but unless the apps solves a problem- such as easy to redeem coupons or member-only specials – millennials are not going to download another mobile app.”
Up for grabs: Selfies
Macy’s new millennial-oriented floor, One Below, has a wall dedicated toselfies. It’s no secret millennials are obsessed with taking photos of themselves.
It’s up for grabs if taking selfies will catch on as a payment method.
Hit: Social conscientiousness
Brands like TOMS and Warby Parker thrive because they are socially conscientious. Millennials care where their money goes (for the most part). A Goldman Sachs study from this spring revealed that brands with a “story” – like the aforementioned companies – were likely to make lots of money from millennials.
Miss: Feigned charity and insincere social conscientiousness
But millennials don’t want feigned conscientiousness.
“Another misconception is that supporting a charity or social cause is an automatic win with millennials,” Dorsey explained. “What we see is that unless the cause has a local connection and impact it’s much harder for millennials to get excited about it. Writing a big check to say you’re doing social good is not enough for millennials. They actually want to see the human side of the impact you create in order to believe it and be excited about supporting it.”
Millennials don’t have patience. That’s why they love fast-casual dining – it gives them food that’s higher quality than its fast-food counterpart, but still at lightning-fast speed.
Proof that millennials don’t have patience? They hate lines!
“Additional expectations millennials have in retail is not having to wait in line – ever, unless it’s for the new iPhone. Millennials expect to be able to check out when they are ready, not when you are. That doesn’t mean they won’t take their time shopping – even making shopping a group experience and posting on Instagram the entire time – but when they are ready to pay they want to be able to pay quickly and leave,” Dorsey explained.
Miss: Old-school customer service
- <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/seattlemunicipalarchives/”> Seattle Municipal Archives on Flickr</a>
Have a cool company but poor customer service? Millennials will say goodbye.
Have a cool company that has quality customer service – but it’s “IRL” versus quick and communicable via text or chat? Millennials will likely say goodbye, as well.
“Millennials can’t stand to be able to get a retail issue resolved quickly. We see this a lot where millennials now expect to be able to post in a chat box, text, or post on social media a question and get it swiftly resolved,” Dorsey said. “We did a recent national study on what millennials want in terms of customer experience and millennials absolutely felt having fast access across multiple channels to get an issue resolved was critical – and that not offering this was a big miss.”
“In other words,” Dorsey continued, “some brands view of great customer service, such as offering a human being to quickly answer the phone, might be a complete miss for millennials who want their question answered by SMS.”
- joey cato
“Brands that play to nostalgia, are organically produced, and deliver zero waste are proving highly successful in traditional retail channels even in crowded, well-established markets,” Dorsey said.
Miss: Relying on old standards
“The No. 1 mistake retailers make when it comes to millennials is expecting that what worked 10 years ago works now. Millennials have more retail options that any consumer in history, more product options than any consumer in history, and they have the least established loyalty. The net result is the upside is huge for retailers who adapt to what millennials want and the downside is huge for retailers who don’t,” Dorsey explained.
Hit: Great advertising and marketing
- Business Insider / Matthew Lynley
“One great example is Dollar Shave Club. They removed the hype around razors and simplified buying and reordering by brilliantly spoofing how people think about their razor,” Dorsey said.
Miss: Print-out coupons
“Millennials absolutely do not like having to carry or bring a printed coupon in order to get a discount. Millennials view this as not only a waste of paper, but also outdated. When retailers request a printed coupon they also miss the opportunity to get millennials to join the retailer’s club or download an app or other trackable options,” Dorsey said.
Hit: A level of local exclusivity
- Shirley T./Yelp
“Millennials also like retail that creates more of a boutique, exclusive experience. This could range from Shake Shack offering a limited number of hamburgers for a single day made by a celebrity chef or it could a pop-up retailer that is only open one weekend and then gone. Millennials love exclusivity, limited-time experiences, and a local-centric feel – even if that means the burger is only offered at one location,” Dorsey explained.
Miss: Being too cool for school
Even though the brand is posed to be the comeback kid of the year, Abercrombie’s notorious reputation ruptured the retailer’s relationship with millennials.
By being the “cool kid” and not catering to anyone else, Abercrombie found itself rejected by morally discerning millennials. “Once a high flyer with millennials at a pivotal life stage, as the brand got a reputation for only catering to a small segment of the generation based on body type – true or not – and that was reinforced by the CEO’s comments about who its clothes were made for. Millennials left in droves and haven’t returned,” Dorsey said.
Hit: Organic, local food, and quinoa and ancient grains
Millennials care where their food comes from.
“Millennials are more aware of quality of ingredients, and they want transparency. They’d like to know that they were sourced locally,” Dean Small, CEO of Synergy Consultants, told Business Insider this summer.
Got gluten-free options? Even better. Earlier this summer, Jason Dorsey pointed out that for millennials, when you incorporate components like “gluten free [crust] and ancient grains … it almost represents what you believe.”
Miss: Being called a millennial
A recent study from Pew Research Study said that millennials hate being called millennials … so retailers that want to cater to millennials should probably refrain from calling them that.