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millenial store

How Small Businesses Should Market to Millennials

Brick-and-mortar retail chains are dropping like flies.


With thousands more stores closing their doors in 2017, traditional retail models seem to be taking a nosedive. But, the future is brighter than major media outlets would have you believe.


In fact, older generations seem to do more online shopping than millennials do. Even more surprising, millennials shop more in physical stores than from their phones or computers. But why?


The consumer market has changed. Baby boomers aren’t the largest demographic for retailers anymore, and younger generations want something new. They grew up on the internet and know it inside-out. They want the experience their parents had, but on their own terms.


Small businesses need to switch up their tactics to successfully market brick-and-mortar businesses to the millennial generation. That might sound like a lot of work, but there are a few easy marketing tactics you can adopt to create an environment fit for millennials.


They’re tricky, but the small businesses that succeed in capturing their attention are the ones that survive the overhaul of legacy retail.



No one can escape the internet. That might sound a bit Terminator-esque, robots taking over the world, but it’s really not.


Businesses today have a hard time surviving if they aren’t online. That doesn’t handcuff you to having an ecommerce store, but it sure helps. Anything to ease the path from product to customer is considered a win in today’s consumer market.


But, in terms of marketing, having a grasp on the online space can give small businesses a major leg-up with millennials. Marketing to an audience of digital savants isn’t an easy task, but it’s more than worth the effort.


People, especially millennials, aren’t watching much TV anymore. They’re waiting to stream the next episode of Stranger Things on Netflix, or Game of Thrones on HBO Go. Traditional commercials aren’t nearly as effective as they once were (unless it’s the Superbowl).


The way to a millennial’s heart is through social media, blogs, emails, and online marketing campaigns. We’re sure you’re heard of the many benefits of digital marketing, but they honestly can’t be overstated.


KFC’s UK and Ireland Twitter page responded to the conflict between Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump earlier this year. Their tweet got 500,000 likes, 200,000 retweets, and earned them over 20,000 new followers.


For brick-and-mortar retailers, these online efforts might seem counterproductive. But garnering an audience online is the first step toward getting customers through the door. Not only does it establish a rapport before they even show up, these campaigns create brand loyalty in your millennial customer base.



Studies have shown that millennials are one of the most brand-loyal generations of recent history.


Millennials care more about brands that speak to their values, than those that are cheaper or more convenient. Whether its sustainability, labor rights, or even how it looks, a brand, and what it stands for, can mean more than the product itself.


That isn’t to say that the product doesn’t matter. But, now more than ever, physical retailers need to be aware of the extrinsic value and image of their brand.


Extrinsic value of a brand is the emotional aspect, and the image that it makes in the eyes of the consumer.


Tentree not only makes great products, but each item they sell helps plant ten trees to support environmental sustainability. That’s the external, or extrinsic value of their brand.


This type of extra-value added to a brand is what helps sell to the millennial customer. It’s not all about price anymore. This is also why Apple can sell a computer for two-times the price of a Dell computer that, arguably, has better specs. The brand that Steve Jobs and company created speaks to the millennial consumer.


Small businesses need to think about how their brand speaks to their customers. If retail wants to survive in its current form, it might need to take some cues from online businesses. Look into the ways that your brand can promote millennial values.


You don’t have to plant trees, but anything is sure to help. Dawn washed ducklings with their soap and their stock shot through the roof. Surely small businesses can come up with a way their brand can help make a difference in the world.



Now, I wouldn’t call millennials self-centered. But, who doesn’t like being catered to?


Millennials have the unique advantage of being able to choose who and where they shop. They aren’t confined to physical retail and can go back to their Amazon accounts anytime they feel under appreciated.


That’s why many retailers are listening to their millennial customers by making their stores more customer-centric. A couple of ways they’re achieving this is easing the payments process and “showrooming.”


Showrooming allows customers to come in, try on a product, and easily order it online to be delivered to their home. The retailer is essentially used as a “test track” for a product. While it might be hard to test out toilet paper or produce, retailers that can find ways to integrate the online and offline experience are coming out ahead.


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