IRL. In real life. That’s how Millennials like to shop, especially for fashion.
But many of them think that browsing in a department store is a chore. They view it as dull and uninspiring; a dreary, standardized experience. Unfortunately for some retailers, they are not wrong.
Sadly, many large stores are not doing themselves any favors when it comes to engaging Millennials. They’ve removed the theatrics and personality, replacing them with sale signs and clutter. The Millennial sees no reason to linger in the shop to explore and engage.
While they’re digital first, Millennials crave the brand experiences that only brick and mortar stores can create. According to the eMarketer US Millennial Shoppers 2017 survey, 82% of Millennials say it’s important for retailers to have terrestrial stores. (Only 69% of Gen Xers and 62% of Baby Boomers felt it was essential for retailers to have a physical presence.) For Millennials, buying a product is not a mere transaction. They desire brand and product interaction that can only be experienced in person.
Millennials, more than any other demographic, seek Shopper Moments. A thoughtful and imaginative integration of in-store esthetics and online resources will allow fashion marketers to deliver those connective, memorable, satisfying interactions between shopper and brand.
When shopping for fashion and accessories, the store environment has measureable impact on the experience. New research from the David F. Miller Center for Retailing Education and Research at the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business reveals the elements of a store’s physical design that matter most. They are:
Millennial shoppers reacted negatively to retail environments that appeared disorganized, cluttered or dirty. They also objected to seeing employees restocking the shelves when they were trying to shop.
Millennial shoppers appreciated clearly organized merchandise (e.g., color blocking) that facilitated the shopping experience.
Millennial shoppers enjoyed tongue-in-cheek humor during their shopping experience, whether that stemmed from novel mannequin displays, playful imagery or witty signs.
Millennial shoppers liked the fact that bargain stores invested in higher-end displays that seemed to enhance the quality of the products.
Millennial shoppers preferred retail environments with well-defined spaces that encouraged easy navigation, allowing them to find what they were looking for without seeking assistance.
Millennial shoppers appreciated having an “at-home experience” or a residential feeling in retail spaces.
Millennial shoppers exhibited certain design preferences for retail spaces. Some shoppers identified the color white as aesthetically pleasing and representative of “upscale,” “clean” and “modern” interiors. Another hue that drew interest was red, because it signaled sales merchandise.
Fashion has always been social; there’s nothing new about a few friends meeting up for lunch and a day of shopping. The definition of “social” has expanded, however.
Millennial women don’t just ask their friends for opinions when it comes to choosing their outfits. They check fashion blogs, sift through photos on Pinterest and Snap, and often take and share photos of clothing pieces and accessories in the store before purchasing.
Self-expression is important, but Millennials still like their choices to be validated by their peers. According to womensmarketing.com, 72% of Millennials said they are more likely to buy an item based on photos taken by others who have used it, and 60% were more likely to click on a product based on a friend’s social post.
The most successful fashion brands have created influencer campaigns that provide Millennials with authentic, aspirational guidance. This represents a shift in the retail marketing paradigm: rather than issuing a call to action, smart fashion retailers share a call to participate.