The Millennial shopper demands more from retail. Whatever you call them > Millennials, Gen Y, Digital Natives – their needs and wants are fundamentally different to the shopper of yesteryear. Their shopper DNA is wired differently and they rightly expect more from their retail interactions.
There are many significant social and cultural differences between the Millennial Shopper and the behaviours we understood and built our retail solution on in the past. Definitely too many to debate in a single blog post, so I will focus on just one. Their demand for EXPERIENCES.
Previous generations used product ownership and consumption as a social currency. In the 1950s and 60s, mass production technologies lowered prices and output relatively high quality products at affordable prices. This ‘mass production’ model needed a ‘mass consumption’ one at the other end, and so consumerism was born, fuelled by advertising, branding and the manipulation of desires.
The 1980s were a good example of this. Society valued material ownership. The car you drove, the house you lived in, the things you bought defined you. Branded clothing became a key identity expression. The money you earned allowed you to buy and own the things you wanted and this gave you social currency.
Owning V Experience
Today the social currency value has shifted and retailers would be advised to take note. The Millennial shopper does not place as much value on ‘ownership’. They are a generation, some of whom have never even owned a DVD or a CD, never mind vinyl. You stream your music and movies, you don’t own them.
The Millennial consumer wants to EXPERIENCE life. They want to travel and tell stories, they want to share their lives with others. The products and services they buy are evaluated through this lens. If you gave a 25 year old €10,000 in 1985 they would have BOUGHT things. Things to own, things to show to others, things that expressed the ideals they had about who they were. Give that same €10,000 to the 25 year old of today and they are more likely to have experiences, invest it in DOING things as opposed to OWNING things.
We see evidence of this everywhere. The growth of the Sharing Economy is an excellent example. Via Airbnb, they would rather stay in a quirky apartment nestled in the heartland of a city than a hotel. They want a more genuine experience. They prefer to use an Uber car than a traditional taxi. They crave more authentic experiences and don’t see the traditional retail models as delivering.
And SHARING is another key driver for this experiential desire. Today’s social currency is not what you own, it is what you are doing, where you are and with whom. Your posts and updates on social media define you. The picture on Instagram or Pintrest of the pop-up restaurant you have just ‘discovered’, your tweet about the new product you have just sampled, the YouTube vlog or Facebook post about your latest adventure. This is the new social currency.
We are all familiar with the term Brand Equity. And while still important, what we should now be really asking ourselves is does our product have Experiential Equity? Does it deliver a genuine unique experience to the shopper? Does it deliver enough value experientially to add to their social currency when they share it? When you look at the product or service you sell through this lens you see the truth. If what you sell wouldn’t make someone take their phone from their pocket and snap a photo to share, then it is lacking in experiential equity. If they don’t want to ‘share’ their product experience within their digital eco-system, then you have failed in delivering an experience.
Shareable Experiential Equity is what it is all about. When the drone delivers your Yo-Burger to your table in Yo-Sushi you have had an ‘experience’. When you drink your coffee from the edible cookie coffee cup in KFC UK you have had an experience. We need to look at every product and service today and see it simply as an ‘experience conduit’. How will buying this product or visiting a store offer the shopper an experience that they will value and share with others? That is the litmus test.
Shareable Experiential Equity. It is what today’s shopper wants and what we need to give them.
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