It’s really not Millennials’ faults that they believe food just shows up in their apartments. As a group, their mothers didn’t typically drag them into the grocery store to learn “where groceries come from.”
Of course, there are some exceptions, but it’s probably fair to say that it likely never occurred to many Millennials to worry about how chips regenerated in the cabinet, milk refilled itself and laundry detergent bottles stayed full. They reached adulthood without internalizing the paradigm that their mothers were taught from childhood: weekly trips to the store, waiting in lines, lugging bags of heavy groceries into the house. When they graduated into living alone, they may have found themselves a bit … hungry and smelly.
Just as predictably, when Millennials looked for a solution, many started with the tool they knew best — the one perpetually at the end of their arms: their cellphones. Based on our latest research at SmartCommerce, Millennials are most comfortable buying food/CPG items online, and only 34 percent indicated that they buy all groceries in traditional stores.
Further, when asked why they purchased CPG products online, younger audiences were most likely to say that their primary motivation was convenience.
So, how can marketers reach Millennial shoppers?
1. Retailer marketers aren’t going to convince convenience-driven Millennials that the “real” way to get groceries is to get into a car, park in a crowded lot, push a recalcitrant buggy through a store, find your groceries, wait in line to pay, load up your car, drive home and then carry the groceries into the kitchen and put them away. (Actually, that doesn’t sound that great to me either, now that I read that again). Instead, retail marketers must find new ways to connect with this audience. Rather than trying to bring the Millennial into the store, they should bring the store to the Millennial.
2. Brand marketers can no longer depend on standard tools like in-store displays and eye-catching packaging to get trials and re-purchase from Millennials. They must meet Millennials where they are and digitally shorten the distance between interest and purchase. This presents a huge opportunity for smart brands to end the retailer stranglehold over the buying experience and regain closeness with their customers. But, this doesn’t mean jumping into e-commerce themselves, but rather actively partnering with shoppers and taking them into the carts of partner retailers.
3. All marketers need to be careful not to default to old-fashioned, price-driven promotion to build Millennial interest. Convenience and uniqueness/experience appear to be at least as, if not more, important than price to this audience. Price messaging may fall flat, or even work against you.
As Millennials begin to buy homes and have children of their own, they’re quickly becoming the most important market segment and will continue to drive preferences across the spectrum. Smart brands and retailers who find ways to meet their needs in unique, intelligent ways will find their numbers rising with all audiences.
Jennifer Silverberg is the CEO of SmartCommerce, the international solution helping leading CPG brands like P&G, Unilever and Nestle own and drive their customers’ online buying experiences. SmartCommerce provides unique, brand-focused solutions that help build brand-customer connections in the rapidly changing CPG marketplace.