Millennials and Boomers, Shopping Together - Medallion Retail
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Strategy, In-store Experience, Social Media Integration

Millennials and Boomers, Shopping Together

POSTED ON: 05/28/15 Retail Marketing

Hey, I don’t like average, geriatric vegetables that are over-priced and presented in an old-fashioned and lackluster way. Whole Foods, is that really how you feel about me? 

That thought crossed my mind as I read recent news about the grocery giant launching a new offshoot brand to appeal to Millennial shoppers.

Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods, said it will be a “uniquely branded store concept unlike anything that currently exists in the marketplace” with “value prices … a modern, streamlined design, innovative technology and a curated selection.”

I get what he was saying; I just think it’s an odd way to say it. Why imply that Boomers, myself included, don’t want our produce curated, value-priced and innovatively presented?

Without a doubt, retail marketers must strive to reach the Millennial. There are 80 million of them, and they represent $200 billion in annual buying power. But Boomers represent the largest demographic (111 million) and are responsible for 50% of all consumer expenditures.

That’s why I don’t think the primary focus should be on dueling demographics. Retail marketing should be about relevance and context. The shopper is an individual first, and a Millennial or a Baby Boomer or a Gen Y-er second.  It’s important that we remain aware and responsive to macro trends, but not at the risk of missing the entire customer picture.

So what’s a retail marketer to do? In that “something for everybody” spirit, here are five tactic-inspiring similarities in the ways Millennials and Boomers shop:

They seek experiences. Shoppers of every ilk desire interaction. They want to learn something or try something or be a part of something when they are in-store, so create displays that provide a memorable emotional transaction. The thrill of discovery is potent, and the ability to be a maven and pass along “insider” info is very appealing.

They use smartphones and tablets in the shopping process. Granted, Millennials more than Boomers (and in different ways), but both groups find technology an indispensible shopping tool. Retail marketers will reach both groups when they visually and thematically link online and in-store experiences.

They are social. Both groups enjoy shopping with friends, citing it as a favorite social activity. They share the experience (word of mouth is huge for women of both groups), then share their point of view of the experience online (so give them great backgrounds for selfies in-store).

They love a good value. In every sense of the word. Both groups want a good deal, appreciate a great loyalty program they can participate in online and in-store, and may shy away from companies they feel are not socially responsible.

They think small can be good. Intimate shopping environments seem better curated, less imposing and more personal than traditional, large retail spaces. It’s also an urban consideration (a large segment of Millennials and Boomers are city dwellers). Many large-format/big box retailers, like Target and Wal-Mart, are testing big city store-in-store concepts, while others, such as Office Depot, are experimenting with smaller shops.

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