Within the Millennial bracket (those born between 1982 and 2000) are Millennial moms. They make up 90% of new moms in the last year, up 50% from a decade ago (Goldman Sachs), and they wield tremendous purchasing power.
Millennial moms have more social media accounts and spend more time on social media per week than other moms, particularly on YouTube, Instagram and Google+.
90% share information on retail, apparel, food and drink; 50% share information on financial investments and life insurance. And they're twice as likely to be single/never married/not living with a partner, making purchase decisions for their households themselves.
What motivates millennial moms?
Millennials have grown up with technology. Unlike previous generations that took parenting advice from magazines, purchased through catalogs, clipped coupons from paper circulars and learned about new products and brands through traditional media, Millennial moms are mobile, social, and digitally savvy.
Research by Goldman Sachs reports Millennial moms prefer brands that align with their values, like TOMS, Jessica Alba's Honest Company, Whole Foods and Warby Parker.
Millennial moms learn about these brands through new media: mommy blogs, YouTube, online reviews, Facebook Shares and Pinterest.
The Honest Company shares its "values proposition" through its blog, covering eco-parenting plus everything from nutrition and wellness to design and style:
Giggle blogs their own values-packed stories about products they carry:
This content is shareable, pinnable and comment-enabled.
The commerce + content trend also includes product video (ideally shoppable), interactive lookbooks (modern digital catalogs), lo-fi content (images and video optimized for social sharing) and user-generated content (Instagram photos, pinboards, etc).
Stride Rite incentivizes user-generated lo-fi content with #hashtag contests on Instagram and Twitter, which is shared with submitters' own social networks.
WorldKitchen merchandises social content, linking to products included in fans' photos and videos.
Access vs. ownership
The disruptive business models of services like Spotify, Netflix, Rent the Runway and Car2Go have groomed this generation to embrace the sharing economy.
Recognizing this trend, Best Buy, Chegg, ASOS and Patagonia have added their own buy-back and peer-to-peer marketplaces. Patagonia has partnered with both eBay with its Common Threads initiative in the name of buying used rather than new whenever possible. Patagonia's collaboration with Yerdle promotes swapping of goods rather than buying.
Though this may cannibalize new product sales, it certainly resonates with Millennials that share the values of quality goods that endure to be traded, thrift and eco-responsibility.
Subscription sample boxes like Birchbox are another way to use-without-owning full product. Niche baby-themed boxes like bluum, Bababox and Wittlebee are bubbling everywhere.
Soon, 3D printing may take the sharing economy even further - with the ability to scan and reproduce a product, shopping and swapping digital files peer-to-peer. Brands and retailers should consider if and why embracing the collaborative economy could benefit branding and sales.
84% of Millennials say user-generated content has at least some influence on what they buy. They certainly trust this more than brand marketing, and even trust likeminded or experienced consumers over people that they know -- with 51% saying customer reviews on a company's website have a greater impact on their purchase decisions than recommendations from friends and family. (Baby Boomers are 35% more likely to prefer recommendations from people they know vs. online reviews).
Beyond a company's website, Millennials more than 3x as likely than Baby Boomers to use social channels to get this information (22% vs 7%).
Brands and retailers that want to capitalize on this behavior should not only make an effort to attract more customer reviews, but should also consider pulling external sources of customer reviews into product pages and apps. For example, YouTube video reviews, manufacturer review content, or Twitter mentions.
Omnichannel retailers should also consider making review content more accessible in-store through digital kiosks, scannable QR codes or via beacons. While review content can be pulled up via mobile sites and apps, providing a direct link to this content is a better user experience (no fiddling with search and category menus to locate product) and reduces the chances smartphone-armed shoppers will source their review content from competitors like Amazon while in your store (showrooming).
Beacon platform InMarket recently reported that 38% of Millennial moms in the US use beacon-enabled shopping apps each month, vs only 20% of non-Millennial moms.
Seamless digital experiences
According to the Goldman Sachs study, Millennials expect a seamless experience and don’t fully appreciate the concept of "channels," nor the challenges of distributing content and merchandise across them. To Millennials, your product, pricing and content should be accessible and consistent through whichever touchpoint they choose to interact with you -- immediately. In-store, 62% of US Millennial moms search for mobile coupons, while 51% look for better prices.
Mobile services are table stakes, and experience-boosters like one-click checkout, mobile and social payment options and in-store digital matter more to Millennials than other generations.
While 49% of Millennials confess they interact with brands through social media, 76% say email is their preferred method for receiving updates. Email is also the primary way they want to engage in customer service.
A trend I'm noticing more and more on ecommerce websites across industries is the downplaying of email opt-in calls-to-action and an up-playing of social. For example:
Despite the shiny sexiness of social media, it's important to keep email your #1 micro-conversion goal. Don't assume Millennials have jumped the email shark.
At the same time, ensure you are active and responsive in the social channels you choose to play in, as tech-savvy Millennials expect their "seamless digital experience" across touchpoints to include customer service. (Next post we'll deep-dive into what excellent omnichannel customer service entails).
Are you ready to deliver innovative digital experiences across channels? Elastic Path's latest ebook The New Customer Journey: A Convergence of Content, Context, Channels and Commerce is available for free download. The book covers the what and why of experience-driven commerce.