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Understanding How Millennials Shop Online

Written by: Collin Burke, Content Marketing Intern

Who are Millennials?

It’s a question everyone’s asking, especially marketers. Defined simply, Millennials (sometimes referred to as Gen Y) are the first generation to come of age in the new millennium. They were born between 1980-2000 and are currently aged 15-35. At 77 million strong, Millennials account for nearly a third of the US population and in 2013 contributed a whopping $1.3 trillion in annual spending to the economy. As the first generation to have Internet access during their formative years, Millennials have been shaped by technology. And today, they just can’t get enough of it.

Where do Millennials spend their time?

Millennials love social media. On a daily basis, 71% of Millennials engage in social media, and 37% feel like they are missing out if they don’t. Despite the rumors that Millennials are ditching Facebook, the social network continues to reign supreme. 88% of Millennials are on Facebook, while nearly 60% are on Twitter. According to Nielsen’s Millennials: Breaking the Myths report, the Facebook app is the clear frontrunner in both unique audience and time spent on mobile:

FB Charts

Speaking of mobile – over 85% of Millennials own a smartphone. And just how often are they using these devices? Only 43 times per day for 14.5 hours per week. It’s gotten to the point where Millennials agree that smartphones are more important than deodorant. Yes, really.

What are Millennials buying online?

It’s predicted that by 2017, Millennials will have more spending power than any other generation. They may not be eager to buy cars or homes, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like to shop. They want to look nice, so they buy more clothes and shop for clothes more frequently than any other generation. 45% say they spend at least an hour a day browsing retail-oriented website, and an infographic from Baynote indicates that connecting with Millennials online can yield significant benefits for eCommerce companies:

Retail Charts

People may assume that Millennials spend much of their time playing mobile games, since they’re always on their smartphones, but that is not the case. Surprisingly, mobile games have not been as popular with Millennials (at least those aged 25-34), when compared to other generations. If you’re a mobile game developer, don’t make the mistake of targeting Gen Y blindly. Instead, conduct research to clearly define your audience before spending the resources to target the younger demographic.

What influences their purchasing decisions?

Several factors go into a Millennial’s purchasing decision — and they lead to somewhat of a paradox. Millennials value the opinions of their peers more than other generations do. Simultaneously, they trust the opinions of strangers when reviewing products online. Supporting the greater good is important to globally-minded Millennials, who are 3x as likely to wear socially conscious brands over luxury labels. That said, they are also more likely to pamper themselves with impulse purchases than any other generation.

How can you reach Millennials online?

  • Advertise on Facebook and mobile, and provide Gen Y with the hyper-targeted content that it prefers.
  • Create a seamless cross-channel online shopping experience. Optimize your website and checkout for mobile, since 30% of Millennials use four or more devices per day.
  • Give them discounts. 60% of Millennials follow brands on social sites specifically to hear about new deals and coupons.
  • Encourage social sharing. 98% of Millennials are more likely to engage with a friend’s post over a brand’s post, and they are 2x as likely to purchase products peers have shared.

Want to reach Gen Y on social?

Read “How to Market to Millennials on Facebook”


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