Young Shoppers: What Your Online Business Needs to Know


The way consumers shop today would look like something out of a sci-fi movie to people 20 years ago.

Back in the early 1990s, who could have imagined that in just two decades we’d be doing our grocery shop on the screens of our mobile phones?

New technology has not only changed our shopping habits. It’s also transformed the way we communicate.

This is especially true for Generation Y (also called Millennials), born between 1980 and 2000. Many of these are Digital Natives; they can’t remember a world without the Internet.

What must your store do to remain on the radar for Generation Y?

Get Mobile Optimized

Young people are attached to their phone. Really attached. It’s like an extension of their body.

Two thirds (65%) of Generation Y say that losing their phone or computer would be worse than losing their car.

Back in 2012, the Pew Research Centre found the average 18-24 year old sent an average of 109.5 messages per day, equivalent to 6 messages per hour (assuming they sleep 6 hours a night).

That’s a lot of their day immersed in their phone screen.

Today, one in ten of every dollar spent online is through mobile. As the buying power of digital natives grows, mobile shopping is a trend that’s only going to get bigger.

Young shoppers expect to be able to buy from their handset or tablet. If your store’s not mobile optimized, to them it might as well not exist at all.

Keep Your Marketing Short, Sharp and Savvy

Gone are the days when marketers held a captive audience. And it’s not only the TV channel we can change now. If you want to be listened to, you must be worthwhile and relevant to your audience.

Coupled with that, attention spans are shrinking. An academic study in 2011 found that the average app-session on a mobile device lasts just over a minute.

That’s not to say Gen Y is stupid. If anything, they’re more aware of marketing tricks than any other generation.

As Millennial writer Ryan Donegan puts it:

“We’re quite possibly the most informed consumer generation ever to face marketing professionals. You can bet that, before we’ve made any major purchase, we will have researched it, asked our friends about it on social channels, and searched your reviews online. Lacklustre, rushed special offers and overpriced products won’t work like they used to.”

You can use this to your advantage by keeping your marketing messages short, sharp and savvy.

Be Social Online

For anyone born before 1990, the phone is the natural tool we think of when we want to get in touch with a company.

Generation Y sees things differently. Their natural communications tool is instant messaging. Making a phone call is their fourth choice of contact mechanism, after email, social media, and smartphone applications.

What’s more, three in five (63%) of young people in the US keep up to date on brands through social media.

If you want to offer customer service that Gen Y are comfortable with, then you need to be on social media. Installing a web chat application on your site is also a good option.

It’s time to get social.

Over to You

Have you changed anything about your online store or marketing to better engage with younger shoppers? If so, what have you done and why?

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Written by David Masters

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