2017 Marketers Report: Millennials and their shopping behaviors


When it comes to marketing, businesses need to be very aware of the increasing spending power of Millennials. This group, born between 1980 and 2000, are now all considered adults. Many them have graduated from college and many are beginning their families. In fact, the oldest Millennials are older than 35 and getting closer to 40 every day.

With my work in social psychology and marketing, I have learned about the behaviors that separate Millennials from the older generations. If businesses embrace the qualities and behaviors of Millennials, they can build long-lasting relationships with a group that is just getting into their prime.

Skeptical appreciation for experiences

Something that separates Millennials from the other generations is how much they appreciate experiences over possessions. This does not mean that Millennials don’t want stuff, but they want stuff that gives them experiences. It also means that Millennials will eschew unnecessary material possessions, so they can do what they love. If marketers can figure out how to make their products deliver experiences, then Millennials will bite.

Marketers need to do this carefully though as they are highly skeptical of authority. They have developed their skepticism by watching their parents suffer through the Great Recession. They have also developed skepticism as they completed college and could not find jobs, but still had to pay their outrageous student loans. So, when businesses try to market to them in misleading ways, Millennials notice.

They’re confident and they know it

Millennials also are an extremely confident group and marketers be aware of this. Millennials feel good about themselves because they have always been told how wonderful they are. This is the group that received participation trophies and they had their self-esteem analyzed on a regular basis. They also know to find anything they want to know online, so they are also highly confident shoppers. For example, when they are in the market for a new car, they will research for hours. They will read reviews, talk to friends, analyze the various specifications, and decide what features they want on their new car. Then, they will go to the dealership to confirm their decision and make a confident purchase.

This confidence is often stoked by their skepticism of authority. So, when they do decide to buy a car, they want to make the decision on their own. They do not want a car salesman to tell them what car to buy. Millennials expect their decisions to be respected, because their decisions have constantly been respected.

Social awareness brings Millennials to businesses

Millennials are also socially conscious. They understand the troubles that affect the world and many of them want to do something about it. They do not want to waste resources and they do not want to harm the planet. So, when they decide on a brand to patronize, they need to know that the brand has the same social values that they do. Millennials do not have the same brand loyalty that Baby Boomers and Gen Xers have. Millennials will shift brands without any feeling of being disloyal, especially if the brand no longer agrees with their social awareness.

Digital communication soothes their souls

The last behavior that marketers need to embrace in Millennials customers is their appreciation of digital communication. If a business is not using digital communication, then they are already far behind. Millennials want to make purchases through their electronic devices. They want to schedule appointments with their devices. And, they want to be educated about products through their devices. After Millennials purchase a car, they will want to use their smartphones to make appointments. They want to be reminded of their appointments through text messages or other chat apps. This goes for any service industry that requires appointments. They even want to make their restaurant reservations online. Millennials do not use the actual telephone because it takes too long.

Millennials are a unique generation that is changing the way that businesses are reaching out to them. As this generation’s buying power grows and develops, businesses need to embrace their personal confidence and social awareness. Businesses also need to continue to evolve in their use of technology. And, businesses need to embrace the understanding the Millennials appreciate experiences. By showing appreciation for this growing group of consumers, businesses will be able to grow alongside these young, educated adults.