Think you know millennials? This renowned trendspotter shares what you need to know about seducing these influential and finicky shoppers.
Marian Salzman, ceo of Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, North America, and Euro RSCG Life PR is credited with popularizing pop-culture buzzwords from “singleton” to “metrosexual.” She was named PRWeek’s 2011
PR Professional of the Year, and sat down with us to share her thoughts on the next generation of shoppers.
A recent article in Forbes says, “Big retail is running scared of the millennial generation.” Do you agree there’s reason for concern?
Welcome to a generation that believes everything in life has a sense of urgency and where immediate means immediate. They want mass customization without any challenge to their personal privacy, and they want and believe in radical transparency. So, as a retail brand, do you have every reason to be upset and worried? Absolutely.
At the same time, they represent the biggest, most influential generation since baby boomers. So retailers can’t ignore them. No, you need to re-seduce them every time. Every encounter is a new one.
How is that different from previous generations’ shopping habits?
When I was growing up, we had two destinations in our household: Sears for our value purchases and Bloomingdale’s for our special occasions. And everything we needed to buy fell into one of those two camps. Today, people have a dozen specialty boutiques and they’re constantly grazing. So millennials who are growing up with parents who are brand disloyal are going to be very much about the moment.
So how do you build loyalty with millennials?
You have to give them more than they’re expecting and make it novel as well as charitably based. All those things are relevant to them.
Name a retailer that’s getting it right.
Urban Outfitters. They seduce them every single day, week, month, with their product mix. It’s the voice, the design messaging, it’s the total package.
What role does the store environment play with this generation?
It can be a fantastic device, like the Genius Bar at Apple, or a non-starter. For example, the Lilly Pulitzer shop at Bloomingdale’s might be a destination for a certain kind of millennial women, but they’re headed to that shop, not Bloomingdale’s.
Is that why department stores are returning to a shop-in-shop strategy?
I believe so. We’re judging a department store, in part, based on who’s there.
Does that make the department store format relevant again?
I think it’s incredibly relevant, which is almost comical because I watched us write them off in the late ’90s. Today, I’d love to be a major shareholder in Macy’s. There are so many brilliant shops within that store. And millennials demand that because they’re boutique shoppers.
Name one piece of advice you have for retailers to start building a relationship with millennials.
Start a dialogue of mutuality, not a one-way discourse.
For more of Salzman’s insight, join VMSD at the IRDC Roadshow: Millennial Edition on June 7, to hear her keynote address, “Millennial Consumers: Who They Are, and How They Shop.” To register, visit irdconline.com/roadshow.