Merchant Innovation

Disrupting The ‘New Future Of Shopping’

Millennials disrupt traditional shopping patterns by plugging into mobile/social experiences, but are retailers keeping up? A new study from Blackhawk Engagement Solutions digs into how these shoppers research purchases, the devices they use and the influences along their paths to purchase.


Staying relevant in today’s digitally driven retail world means looking beyond the status quo.

It means being innovative, being consumer centric, and finding new methods to connect with those consumers. It also means disrupting traditional commerce models in order to connect to the consumer whatever, however and whenever they desire.

One group every retailer is targeting, of course, are the ones that have become their own sub-category of digital shoppers: millennials  — the generation that will shape how retailers re-invent themselves. And re-invent, they will. Or they risk being left behind.

Millennials continue to disrupt traditional shopping patterns by plugging into mobile and social shopping experiences, but, according to a recently released study, some retailers are struggling to capitalize on the changing behaviors.

Blackhawk Engagement Solutions recently released the results of its “Millennials Disrupt Shopping” report, which identifies how shoppers in this generation research purchases, the devices they use for purchases and the influences along their paths to purchase.

“Millennials are leading a change in purchase trends. As such, it’s incredibly important for retail marketers to understand how to appeal to this demographic,” Rodney Mason, GVP of Marketing at Blackhawk Engagement Solutions, said in a press release. “Millennials are savvy shoppers and many have come of age in a post-recession era; our research shows that this group routinely comparison shops on mobile to get the best value and shopping experience, but the market has not yet capitalized on those habits.”

The report includes shopping data from two separate studies. The first was a U.S. study that surveyed more than 500 millennials with a focus on shopping behaviors and the second asked an additional 500 millennials about app and gift card preferences. Together, the studies paint a picture of a changing retail landscape that not all retailers are properly equipped to embrace.

While price ranks as a top consideration for the millennial generation — with 95 percent of millennials saying they are either more or as sensitive to price as they were in 2014 — social media’s impact is not to be underestimated. Social media circles are playing an increasing role in influencing the shopping patterns of the millennial generation, and 54 percent of millennials said that they followed brands specifically so that they are in the know about values and savings (after all, price is the millennials’ No. 1 concern).

While many brands continue to pour advertising dollars into sharing product, sales and shopping news via commercials, website ads and the like, for millennials, those channels all ranked below social media (which topped the charts at 55 percent), Google (45 percent), Amazon (39 percent), retail websites (37 percent) and friends and family (36 percent).

According to the report, smartphones reign supreme as the primary way millennials connect to the Web, with 89 percent using mobile devices to connect to the Internet, versus 75 percent using laptops, 45 percent using tablets and only 37 percent using desktops. And while millennials are particularly dependent on their mobile devices, they are certainly not alone, as Adobe data on shoppers of all ages showed that 49 percent of shopping visits (and 26 percent of sales) on Cyber Monday were carried out via mobile.

Additional millennial shopping trends discussed in the study include:

• Rebates trump instant discounts: Sixty-five percent of millennials said they would rather take a $100 rebate on a smart TV than a $65 discount. In scenarios among additional categories — ranging from sporting goods to clothing and groceries — millennials chose rebates over instant discounts in each instance.

Price comparison: Millennials who use mobile devices to compare prices most frequently turn to Amazon (47 percent) and Google (43 percent), while also placing a big emphasis on using retail apps to find value, savings and rewards.

• Payment apps: PayPal was the most popular payment app used by millennials at 79 percent, followed by Google Wallet (29 percent), Amazon Payments (27 percent) and Apple Pay (22 percent).

• Shopping with gift cards: When it comes to keeping safe while shopping online, nearly 64 percent of millennials turn to gift cards rather than any other digital payment method, with 66 percent confirming they feel using gift cards will help to limit the risk of identity fraud.

While that’s just a snapshot of who today’s millennial (digital) shopper is, it paints a pretty clear picture of how retailers need to position their strategies in order to stay at top of mind of those consumers they are attempting to attract — and keep.

For more key findings from Blackhawk Engagement Solutions’ “Millennials Disrupt Shopping” research, click here.



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