Millennials Talk About Holiday Shopping - Medallion Retail
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Strategy, Creativity, In-store Experience

Millennials Talk About Holiday Shopping

POSTED ON: 12/01/15 Shopping Millennials

While you were enjoying roast turkey, green bean casserole and delicious stuffing (not the kind with oysters in it because that is gross), I spent Thanksgiving gathering timely information about holiday shopping. I hosted a Millennial focus group.

Granted, it was at the dinner table, and we had been eating turkey and stuffing (not the kind with oysters in it, because that is gross). But the six young people in attendance represented a generation critical to retailers, and they were eager to talk. (And not just because I dangled pumpkin pie in front of them, which, it turns out, is as messy as it sounds.) So a focus group they became.

Three men and three women, all between the ages of 23 and 27, talked about why and when they shop, and how and where they make their choices. Granted, my findings are anecdotal and my sample group is small. But the narratives these young shoppers shared were rich in the detail, tone and color sometimes lacking in large, scientific surveys. (Though the general preferences and behaviors this group talked about track to quantitative retail industry studies.)

So what’s their story? What matters to the Millennial holiday shopper? Here’s what the Turkey Day Focus Group said:

They like to buy for themselves. Millennials are quite comfortable making personal purchases, and quality matters. A recent report by the Shullman Research Center found that Millennials will account for 57 percent of all luxury shoppers this season.

Even when I’m out Christmas shopping for my family, I’m still on the lookout for something for me.

If I like it and it’s worth the money, I’ll totally get it for myself.  Why not?

I don’t think of it as a gift to myself. 

Whenever I’m in a certain store, one of my stores, I’ll look for something for me.  I don’t think that’s selfish.  That’s shopping.

They demand good service. Millennials view quality service as a basic element of the shopping experience.  They’re tough.  If they don’t get it, they go elsewhere. But when they believe they are being treated “right,” they become loyal customers.

I like a sales guy who doesn’t act like a sales guy. Somebody who makes suggestions and gives real recommendations.  Someone who feels like a peer.

I really love it when the salesperson remembers me. Shows that she is paying attention.

I’m like, you know you can talk to me about something other than what you’re selling, right?

If the sales guy doesn’t care, neither do I. He works there; I don’t.

They seek experiences. To Millennials, shopping is not procurement. They want to be engaged on as many levels as possible, and they understand omnichannel instinctively. Details matter to Millennials, as does authenticity.

It’s not just that they greet me at the door with something to drink; they make sure it’s the right drink. Like when the guy at Goorin Bros. hands me a mulled cider in the winter.

We know the difference between curated and contrived.

The music has to be good. I love it when it sounds like I’m listening to the salesperson’s playlist. Chipotle’s really great at this.

It shouldn’t feel like a store. It should be a place to hang out and feel comfortable. That’s why I like small shops and boutiques.  And I don’t mean the fake boutiques that are in huge dep[artment stores; I’m not fooled.

One of my favorite stores has signs made by local artists. It’s cool that they are really a part of the neighborhood.

I hate it when a place doesn’t have Wi-Fi. It makes the store seem out of date or stingy. What if I want to know something about this thing I’m looking at? What if I want to download the song they’re playing?

It’s great when they only have one or two of each thing. It looks simple and clean; the items seem more special, exclusive.

They need instant gratification. Millennials are very at home in the digital age. They’re used to getting what they want – quickly. They don’t have to walk out of the store with the item but they do have to be sure that it will be delivered in a day. And they’re happy to pay for that.

If I see it online, and then they don’t have it in the store, I feel lied to.

Sometimes the shop doesn’t have exactly what I want. I get that. So the salesperson needs to show me something just as great that I can get.

I don’t want to ask the guy to get on the phone and see if another locations has it. I want him to do that on his own.

They don’t detest Christmas Creep. According to a study by big data personalization firm RichRelevance, 71 percent of Americans said they’re either “annoyed” or “very annoyed” when they see holiday items in stores before Halloween. But Millennials are more accepting of the forward shift. Only 59 percent of respondents in this age group said they feel annoyed when holiday items appear early. In fact, 12 percent said they either “like” or “love” it.

It looks a little weird to have Christmas decorations up while the Halloween stuff is still out, but, whatever.

The big stores do that – put the Christmas stuff up early. The little shops I go to seem to let each holiday have its own time.

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