What every retailer must know about Gen Y, part 2

Oct. 10, 2012

This is an excerpt from "A Retail Doctor Special Report: What Every Retailer Must Know About The Millennial Generation," a new report authored by RCE blogger Bob Phibbs. You can download the complete report at his site, and read part 1 here.

A report from PayScale found Millennials much more likely than older workers to be laying out merchandise at retail stores, selling cell phones or performing other retail jobs. And that's despite the generation's high level of education.

Thrift is the new shopping; they call it thrifting. In this way, Millennials resemble their grandparents' Silent Generation.

Millennials are savvy on price when they travel as well. Airbnb.com and couchsurfing.com are two websites for using someone's apartment or room while traveling instead of a hotel. They are requiring less privacy considering they have a very public life as it is. They see a hostel with Wi-Fi as awesome but a hotel charging $7 a day for Wi-Fi as cramping their style.

Millennials who live on their own don't have cable because of the cost.

They don't want to be seen with the new — unless it's an iPhone.

They make every penny count. They've adopted frugal shopping behaviors to keep their budgets in check. Millennials are deal-seekers and are more likely to give up their favorite brands to save.

At the same time, they are generous with their friends. Witness Facebook's new "Gifts" where they can quickly buy a physical gift for a friend via Facebook. Where Boomer customers needed help to avoid embarrassment using technology from the Geek Squad, Millennials don't.

They've never known Sunday as anything but a shopping day.

While Baby Boomers were all about convenience, Millennials are all about quality. The back story of a brand or product is compelling to them if you can give it in an experiential way. Hence authentic brands like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are iconic Millennial brands.

They rebel against the quick and the ready. Some go so far as to have a no microwave policy — if something needs warming up, they put it in the oven.

Millennials don't want to have to wade through thirty different models of something, just to find the best for their use.

It's happening now

Food trucks, diner en blanc, Fashion's Night Out, flash mobs, flash deals, pop-up stores — all of them scream temporary. And that's just fine with Millennials.

Temporary means it will be a "happening," an event, an entertainment.

Owning an item for a lifetime is not a requirement for the Millennial shopper; ownership can be temporary as well.

The world is supposed to make Millennials happy, not the other way around. I was at a Starbucks not that long ago when a young woman ahead of me said how the wait behind two other people was, "The worst thing, ever."

Really? Like war, famine and the rest all took a backseat to her being able to order her latte. For her, it was. They hate to wait.

So if you hire a Millennial who believes that, and hasn't been challenged that it's not all about her or him, how will they serve someone else?

Without training, they won't.

Topics: Consumer Behavior , Customer Experience , Employee Training , Marketing

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