Understanding Millennials

By: Michael Arcidi

Steve Olinski, a Forbes contributor, writes an article detailing the importance of integrated marketing communication when targeting Millennials. Steve supports his claim with two major points. The first is that Millennials spend the majority of their retail dollars in stores, and that newspapers still remain the first choice for coupons and deals. The article claims that 81% of Millennial retail purchases were made in a brick and mortar store rather than in an online purchase. This, of course, raises eyebrows, as many would expect the tech-savvy generation of the Millennials to predominantly shop online. While the usage of tech is prevalent in brick and mortar retail, the fact of the matter is, that Millennials are still present in stores for one reason or another. Olinski argues that this should be taken into account by anyone trying to market to Millennials. With these two figures in mind, Olinski argues that anyone trying to market to Millennials should not make assumptions based solely on age or demographic. Rather, marketers should meld both traditional and nontraditional means of marketing in dealing with the Millennial consumer.

I agree with Olinski’s position on the importance of Integrated Marketing Communication. Being at the tail end of Generation Y, I share many qualities with that of the tech savvy Millennials. Growing up alongside the Internet, and experiencing the bombardment of website ads, pop-ups and junk email, Millennials have become skeptical of many of the strategies employed by traditional marketing. In this modern day, the tables have been turned. With the implementation of the Internet, advertising became relatively cheap. As a result, it has become increasingly difficult to capture the attention of the targeted audience. It is because of cheap advertising that it has become difficult for a brand to single itself out amongst the noise of competitors, thus leading to the advent of nontraditional marketing techniques. However, as Olinski points out, traditional techniques still seem to play a vital role in millennial consumption. I was very surprised to learn that 51% of coupons and deals came from the newspaper, and that 81% of retail purchases were made in physical stores. These two statistics seemed contrary to popular beliefs about Millennials, considering their heavy reliance on technology. I would not expect this generation to be reading newspapers, let alone taking the time to make use of the coupons within them. I also could not imagine 81% of retail sales coming from a physical vendor, considering the greater variety of options and cheaper prices of online shopping.

As far as marketers are concerned, this information should be a wake-up call. Millennials are a sought after and valuable consumer base, ergo making it prudent for marketers to understand their purchasing habits. Although technology plays a large role in lives of Millennials, it seems that some of their purchasing decisions are still cemented in traditional ways. It is because of this lack of knowledge pertaining to the buying habits of Millennials that Integrated Marketing Communication should be a vital part of any marketing campaign. Marketers should not make assumptions based on common beliefs of Millennial preferences, they should instead utilize modern marketing techniques in harmony with the old. Using IMC, marketers are able to send consistent brand messaging across both traditional and nontraditional marketing channels, allowing for more efficient targeting of Millennial consumers. IMC is able to capture consumer attention, while still providing the basic benefits of traditional marketing.

Hyperlink: http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveolenski/2013/09/16/why-integrated-marketing-communications-is-more-important-than-ever/

9 thoughts on “Understanding Millennials

  1. Tara Stuhr October 14, 2015 / 6:25 pm

    In my personal opinion, millennial’s activity in the marketing segment might be a little outdated already. Generation Z is the next upcoming generation we should be studying at the moment, who are even more tech savvy than our millennial generation. However, Generation Z might have similar qualities because a study shows they are very independent, so taking this information, maybe they shop similarly on the retail level. I believe that keeping the brick and mortar for some companies should continue to be implemented because it is a make or break for their customer service, which tends to be a top quality for top companies. Retail stores aren’t going “out of style” for a long time with the trends of the upcoming generations.


  2. Mark Lindquist October 15, 2015 / 2:58 am

    I think a big reason behind 81% of millennial purchases coming from brick and mortar stores is that millennials still enjoy going out for a drive to shop. Personally, I make some orders online but for other items I enjoy the shopping experience of getting into my car and driving to the mall. Many millennials grew up in the 1990s, including myself, where their parents always took their children shopping in traditional brick and mortar stores. I remember the joy of bringing home a prized item.

    I believe it is a deep-rooted part of the childhood of millennials and it is an experience they still enjoy holding onto, despite the emergence of internet purchasing on sites such as Amazon.com. I also think companies such as Best Buy and Target can use this to their advantage. They can provide incentives with putting items on sale and handing out coupons just for walking in the door. Salespeople being very personable and outgoing are also key, because millennials do enjoy a more personal approach despite being viewed as always being on their phones.


  3. sarajanecox October 15, 2015 / 6:47 pm

    Millennial spending power is hitting trillions of dollars. Generation Y is estimated to have a combined global spending power of $2.45 trillion in 2015. Steve Olinkski believes IMC is the most effective marketing technique for this certain generation because many millennial purchases are made in a brick and mortar store. Marketers need to create a unique IMC campaign to drive millennial consumers into their stores. 85% of millennial consumers in the U.S. own smartphones. It is important for marketers to have mobile marketing that will engage millennial consumers and make them want to go to the stores. By using channels such as Snapchat companies can continually promote millennial engagement with their brands. Companies should create an integrated communications plan with their social media channels. For example if a company were to implement Snapchat they could integrate the usage with aspects such as media, in-store, PR, Grand Openings, and Digital. It is a goal of many companies to make the millennial consumers potential loyalists. Since many millennial consumers are still shopping in-store marketers need to find a way to drive customers to store while using effective marketing techniques. Snapchat is becoming increasingly popular amongst millennial consumers. Marketers can use tactics such as create sponsored geo-filters for high traffic stores, grand openings, sponsored events, create branded Snapchat accounts, create in-store signage and utilize influencers. Snapchat should be added to companies IMC plans to create brand awareness and drive consumers to stores. This is a non-traditional form of marketing that the millennial consumer is constantly engaging in. Millennials have become “skeptical of many of the strategies employed by traditional marketing.” Marketers need to take the next step to engage with the millennial consumer while driving them to store.


  4. Melissa Santos October 16, 2015 / 5:46 pm

    I too, am somewhat surprised at the percentage of Millennial who still venture out to brick and mortar stores to do a majority of their shopping. I am reluctant to say I am completely surprised because although I personally do a large portion of my shopping online (particularly around Christmas time to avoid the chaotic atmosphere of the mall), most of the time, I do prefer to go to the store and make my purchases there. Although making the purchase from the comfort of my own home is most convenient and ideal, more often than not, I need to see the product up close and personal. I look for quality, in terms of materials. I also want to see in person if the product is durable or if it’s cheaply made. There are lot of factors and considerations I put in prior to making a purchase. Most of these considerations and factors I cannot determine if I don’t have the product in hand in front of me. If I haven’t seen this item in person, this prompts me to go down to the store so I can closely examine it. I can’t personally speak for the Millennial generation, but perhaps this is one motivating factor for them as well.


  5. Travis Terrill October 21, 2015 / 9:10 pm

    After reading this blog post the statistic of 81% of millennials still go to brick and mortar stores is very surprising. In my personal experiences if I want to purchase a product that I know and understand I will purchase this item online. The reason behind this is that I know what I want and it is faster and more efficient to shop and compare prices with a single click on a button.

    Meanwhile when I am shopping for a new or product I have never experienced I will never buy online. Some things need to be seen in person, for example clothes, phones, shoes, etc. These are a part of everyday life and every item is different. Making sure the right product is chosen is very important as well as meaningful. To me this statistic is eye opening and from now on I will look around and see what age groups that I see while shopping in brick and mortar stores!


  6. Jameson Pinette November 16, 2015 / 10:07 pm

    Great blog post and analysis. It surprises me quite a bit that millennials primarily shop at brick and mortar stores for retail goods. Despite being able to look and feel an item before purchase, many websites have come a long way promoting trust, increasing description accuracy, and an providing an adequate return policy. Ample time is spent by youth on their phones shopping and scrolling through retail websites. Moreover with the implementation of “like2buy” that Instagram has offered, impulse buying is increasing substantially. As technology progresses, the need to physically see an item prior to purchase will reduce. Additionally, traditional brick and mortar locations will not be able to compete on price, thus their selection will decrease, prompting potential customers to go online for what they really need. Have a strong feeling that the percentage will shift in the coming years


  7. Melissa Miller November 17, 2015 / 4:33 pm

    I think there are a few possible reasons that the millennials still shop in brick and mortar stores. One reason being that they do not have to pay a shipping and handling fee. I know I personally would rather buy something in the store then pay an extra $5-$20 on shipping, and with the possibility of not liking it and having to return it and still pay the shipping fee. It also did not surprise me that millennials look in the paper for coupons as well. I know I also look for coupons before I go out. Most millennials are still on tight budgets either being in school or fairly new to the workforce.

    I guess it doesn’t surprise me that millennials still prefer brick and mortar to online stores. They were raised with parents who went to the store to buy pretty much anything. Millennials are accustomed to this, so they still tend to shop brick and mortar. Online shopping was introduced to them as they were growing up so I can still see hesitation in always using it.


  8. Brad Daly December 10, 2015 / 2:37 am

    I think that it is surprising that the amount of millenials that shop brick and mortar is as high as it is but at the same time I can see why. Although technology is becoming better and more reliable and secure, there is just something about going into a store and being able to see, touch, and try on the product before purchasing it. In addition to this, if you buy something online and it doesn’t fit, you have to go through the hassle of bringing it back to the store or shipping it back to the company and wait for the replacement. I definitely feel that going to the store is easier for a new purchase. However, I agree with Jameson’s comment that it will only be a matter of time before we see a shift in this thinking, but then again we are creatures of habit and, to Melissa’s point, we were brought up with in store shopping so why would we change our ways?


  9. MIchael Arcidi December 10, 2015 / 9:25 pm

    These are all very good points which I had not considered when writing this blog post originally. Melissa, the concept of shipping costs is a very strong point to argue, as well as the fact that brick and mortar stores offer instant access to the product rather than waiting for shipment. I also think Jameson had a fair point when he argued that its only a matter of time before common practice moves from in store shopping to online shopping.


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