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Millennials: Building new connections

Connecting with today’s digitally-savvy shoppers requires more than just an app or social media post; the best ways to engage with millennials offer a combination of smart digital tools and in-person interactions.

In few sectors have millennials had more impact than in retail, with the industry is rapidly transforming to meet their demands. We take a look at three of the most effective and innovative ways retailers have adapted their offering for this ever-desirable audience.

1. Spheres of influence

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest stories in the fashion and lifestyle industries in recent years is the shift in power from professional opinion-leaders such as fashion editors and retailers, to social media influencers.

According to the latest Global Consumer Insight survey by PwC, recommendations on social media are a key influence for consumers’ shopping choices. As a result, many brands are now creatively harnessing the power of recommendations from influencers and KOLs (key opinion leaders) by inviting them to appear in their catwalk shows, ad campaigns and even co-create product with them.

The power of influencers has become so great that brands are now innovating further, for example by collaborating with virtual influencers, such as Lil Miquela, a fictional, computer-generated character who has modelled for leading make-up artist Pat McGrath and influential magazine Interview, as well as featuring in Prada’s latest digital campaign.

2. Exclusive for everyone

Consumers have become used to gaining access to products and environments previously reserved only for the elite, thanks to behind-the-scenes Snapchat Stories from their favourite influencers and brands. Now, brands are finding new ways to offer exclusive glimpses of hyped-up products and events through livestreaming.

Particularly popular in China, livestreaming allows an all-access view of retail events, where consumers can buy directly from the stream. Retailers and influencers livestream key events direct to their followers, with links to the products featured in the stream, so viewers can immediately buy anything they like.

ShopShops for example, is a platform that connects US retailers to Chinese shoppers by livestreaming events from American stores for 2-3 hours. The platform reports an average of 15,000 viewers and $8,000 in sales per event, with as many as 160,000 viewers for special showcase events.

3. Building relationships

Knowledge-sharing, advice and support are becoming another key way to build stronger connections with consumers.

Specialist retailers are leveraging their expertise to create spaces that consumers can rely on for advice and inspiration. For example, Japanese beauty brand Shiseido has integrated “digital counselling mirrors” into its new store in Ginza, Tokyo, whereby shoppers touch the mirror to get more product information alongside virtual skin assessments.

Meanwhile, UK perfumery Floral Street has introduced a “scent school”, where visitors can learn about blending fragrance, and how to create their own “fragrance wardrobe”, guided by experienced staff, trained at French scent manufacturer Robertet.

Creating meaningful connections

For millennials, the most important way to build trust and loyalty is to offer valuable support and a unique, immersive experience. Retail spaces and city visits can be turned into opportunities to involve consumers with your brand and get them excited about your unique expertise, while livestreams and influencers offer a valuable way to showcase your brand in relatable ways.