Millennials bring new age in shopping

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NEW YORK -- Millennials, or individuals ages 8-24, are important for marketers to reach, especially online, according to "The Digital Millennials: RU Ready" keynote presentation at the annual shop.org conference for online retailers.

Before targeting this group, marketers need to know their role and how to approach them.

"Millennials are Internet savvy and have truly changed shopping," said Kelly Mooney, president and chief experience officer at Resource Interactive, Columbus, OH. "They spend an average 10 hours online per week."

Millennials are a good group to target online, she said, as their spending power is $200 billion.

Resource Interactive studied 72 millennials over eight weeks. Clothing and apparel are their spending priorities, and they influence one another on what's in and what's out. Eighty-one percent said that they influenced the buying of clothing in their homes while 77 percent stated they influenced grocery shopping.

A barrier when targeting this group online is that 42 percent do not want to pay for shipping. Ms. Mooney said that Levi's has found a way around that. Once all of the relevant purchase information has been submitted, Levi's gives the consumer a choice. The consumer can create an ad for what was just purchased, forward it to three friends and receive free shipping. If the consumer opts out, shipping must be paid.

"This group is all about being a team, unlike our time when it was all about individuality," Ms. Mooney said. "These kids want to be unique, but they don't necessarily take standing out from the crowd as a good thing."

Their greatest characteristic is that they value each other's opinions. Few of them make a purchase without consulting peers.

Millennials have different means for communication like cell phones, text messaging, instant messaging and the new social networking sites. Use these tools to reach this group better, Ms. Mooney said.

Marketers are advised that millennials are big on authenticity. Hearing them out is another recommendation. It's not only about listening, but involvement, too. They are tired of seeing the same old ads and are looking for something that will catch their attention.

The older parts of this generation, those ages 18-24, are the ones with the most power to influence the rest.

How do you know what they want? Ask them. Seventy-six percent of this group wants to be asked their opinion about what they like and dislike.

"They will influence more people than you can imagine," Ms. Mooney said. "So show them what they want, and you'll be just fine."

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