Sales Strategies Shift as the Next Generation Shops

by Mike Gergye

The buyer’s journey for generation Z and millennials is drastically changing the way businesses sell their products and services. As the retail marketplace becomes more competitive, these two emerging consumer cohorts will play a pivotal role in the evolution of retail. (While there are differing opinions about the age ranges for gen Z and millennials, the information gathered for this blog used the ages 24 to 35 to define the millennial generation and 11 to 23 for gen Z.)

Reports from Statista show 45% to 52% of millennial and gen Z consumers consider grand openings, entertainment, and online pickup to be the top reasons to visit brick and mortar stores. Emerging generations are also increasing in purchasing power. As we see their share of retail expenditure increasing from 13.5% in 2013 to a projected 30% in 2020, it is crucial to note how they research and purchase products.

Think value as the overarching theme as we sift through the generational traits businesses should consider when executing new strategies. These two generations will  continue to shift the market, so businesses that begin to implement changes based on this data will experience greater success in coming years.

Independent and Innovative Mindsets

Millennials and gen Z want to feel like they are a part of something bigger. According to the Cone Communications Millennial CSR study, “more than 9 out of 10 millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause.” With that in mind, it is absolutely necessary to talk with them not at them, when searching to find what they value and how your business can become better equipped to connect with them based on social impact.

Educated and Flexible Communicators

Both groups rely on (and in many cases prefer) newer forms of technology when communicating with salespeople rather than in-person meetings, due to their accessibility and trackability. According to a recent Forbes article, millennials have paved the way for the non-traditional means of sales communication. Nearly 73% prefer email to calls or in-person meetings. These shoppers also perform far more pre-purchase research, which helps them be better equipped to make purchasing decisions. They are able to retrace their steps via email, text, and online chats, making certain the salesperson is giving them the best deal.

Accenture recently reported that nearly 68% of millennials prefer the convenience of omnichannel accessibility during their buyer’s journey. Before ever setting foot in a store, they already know what they like and don’t like about that brand or product. The same is true for gen Z. While most of them are not necessarily old enough to do much purchasing, they’re still conducting research digitally then relying on their parents for the purchase. So when it comes to selling to these generations, an omnichannel approach is going to work best. The key is finding a balance between the type and amount of information sellers want to promote to these two groups, so that the brand doesn’t fall through the cracks.

Social media is also making a significant impact on purchasing decisions for these shoppers. For example, Instagram has become a major platform for many businesses that want to reach millennials and gen Z. These companies understand the appeal of showcasing their product or service through images. Consider the Love Your Melon marketing strategy. This company started its mission as a class project in 2012; however, it spread like wildfire as consumers learned more through Instagram about their dedication to support multiple nonprofit organizations who are leading the fight against pediatric cancer.

Wary of Major Brands

Younger generations are quick to point out faults and flaws of major brands, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Companies who want positive visibility will be more apt to listen and keep things honest. Considering how saturated the retail market has become, it’s possible there will never be the same brand loyalty seen from previous generations; however, the more transparent and honest companies are, the more rapport they will build.

Digitally Savvy

Millennials and gen Z are connected in every way possible, making them more willing to adapt to new devices. For most individuals in these two generations, the internet of things, smart home devices, and smartphones are commonplace. They are connected and familiar with multiple ways to access the most current information on brands and retailers.

Using multiple digital platforms at once makes them an economic force to be reckoned with. Considering (according to Forbes) the average attention span of a millennial is 12 seconds and 8 seconds for gen Z, communication speed is crucial. Being able to pivot flawlessly between the digital and in-store experiences created for these tech-hungry consumers can create an overall sense of hospitality and connectedness.

These generations also crave interactions with businesses that are recurring and reciprocal. Utilizing online resources and making it easy for consumers to connect will lead to success. Remember, they want to feel valued and know the people behind the brand are more than just a corporation. This ever-evolving world of technology and the quickly diminishing length of attention spans mean the sales process must be fresh and clean and aimed at engaging the consumer consistently.

Meaningful and mindful marketing and sales strategies create value and can establish trust with every consumer. Connect with MarketSource for a free assessment, and let us show you how your marketing and sales teams can be better prepared for selling to younger generations, while maintaining the relationships they already have.

Topic: Retail

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Gergye is the practice leader for new services and continuous improvement. As a 20+ year veteran of hardlines, softlines, and telecommunications retail, Mike leverages his experience to identify, design, and coordinate the testing, implementation, and continuous improvement of new capabilities at MarketSource.

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