The Surprising Thing Millennial Shoppers Actually Want Retailers To Do

Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
An influx of notification pings, heralding texts, emails, and more, from your go-to shopping spots — while you’re shopping as well as after a mall stint — might seem annoying. But the vast majority of people, particularly that marketer goldmine otherwise known as millennials, really dig all that contact from stores, according to a new study from Euclid Analytics. The location analytics firm (which counts Groupe Arnault, LVMH’s controlling shareholder, as a major backer) looked at digital engagement in brick-and-mortar retail experiences.

The study, conducted online by Harris Poll in February, asked 2,115 adults ages 18 and older about how deep they really want their relationships with retailers to go. A whopping 74% of survey respondents said they were down to receive messages on their phones during a store visit, while even more — 81% of respondents — said they were open to stores being in touch (be it via text or email) post-shopping trip.

A desire to keep in touch with retailers is really just an extension of how today’s teens, twentysomethings, and early-thirtysomethings are accustomed to “just for you!” suggestions for, well, everything. ​“Millennials have grown up shopping online, getting tailored Netflix recommendations, and buying songs on iTunes with the tap of a finger,” Franson says. “​This personalization has raised expectations across both offline and online retail experiences​, pushing retailers to stay top of mind with their shoppers after every interaction, whether in a physical store or on a website.”

But not all contact from retailers is equal (or equally desired) in the minds, and phones, of customers — “brands must deliver accurate, location-based engagement based on past online and offline behavior,” Franson explains. The difference lies in where you are and when you get notifications from your favorite stores. “Do I want a text from a retailer while I’m walking my dog on Tuesday morning? Probably not,” Franson says. “But do I want one from that same retailer notifying me of their new winter performance line as I approach the mall on Saturday? Definitely.”

Interestingly, a healthy appetite for feeling constantly in the loop with retailers, as Euclid Analytics’ survey suggests, doesn’t favor IRL or URL-based shopping habits. “This new world of retail is not one where online thrives and brick-and-mortar withers, Franson says. “Rather, the next generation of retail powerhouses will master both domains, creating a seamless and personalized experience for shoppers, regardless of the channel through which they purchase.”

However, brick-and-mortar stores are at a disadvantage in terms of how customer data is utilized — and how effectively it can be used to make customers feel special when they’re browsing the racks, and ultimately entice them to buy. Franson thinks offering free in-store Wi-Fi could be “the glue that connects the online and offline worlds,” in order to lend a more special, personalized feel to that in-person shopping experience.

The survey also found some surprising overlap between millennials and their parents in terms of retailers hitting them up. “The baby boomer demographic proved to be just as savvy as the millennials,” Franson says. Case in point: a majority of people aged 55 or older, or 59% of that older demo, want to receive messages on their phones from a store — while they’re shopping at that particular store.

As e-commerce continues to flourish, it’ll be fascinating to see how retailers will tweak the in-person shopping experience in order to persuade people to bother trekking to the mall when they can just buy something with a few quick clicks. Time will tell if constant contact with customers will shake out to be a necessary solution — not a nuisance.
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