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Generational Shopping Patterns – Implications for Retailers

Shopping behaviors differ by generation – knowledge which retailers can put to use when designing the shopping experience or considering marketing for their site.  Let’s look at just one cohort.  Millenials (born 1977 – 1994) are an important segment because at 76 million people, they are about on par with Boomers, and likely to be far more important to most retailers going forward than Boomers will be: their “lifetime value” is inherently a lot greater! Millenials have it particularly tough right now. They are particularly hard hit by unemployment, and tend to be at that expensive stage of life, forming families while paying off education and starting careers. 

Knowing more about them, and what drives their in store behaviors, can enable a retailer to tailor the in store environment to meet their needs. According to a recent Nielsen report cited by Mediapost, Millenials make the fewest trips of any age cohort, but the dollar value of their grocery basket is high. They are a blend of rationale and impulsive:  prone to using coupons, store brands, and shopping lists, directed (get what I want and get out), yet they are also likely to make at least some unplanned purchases.

What might a retailer do to focus on serving Millenials – and note these actions might not appeal to some other cohorts!

  1. Understand what Millenial households skew high on – and draw them in at the start of the month for inventory replenishment trips with deals on baby supplies, for example
  2. Stock at least some large size baskets for those valuable start-of-the month inventory replenishment trips
  3. Millenials are time starved – build end aisle displays across manufacturers that make at home meals easy
  4. Consistent shoppability is key – a reduced SKU assortment that avoids OOS may well be more productive; a wide array if her flavor is out just speeds attrition.
  5. Get your Millenials out fast – a long check out line will be especially frustrating to her, especially since she’s likely to have kids along
  6. Develop your online/social media presence – consider online couponing, for instance.

Some more general implications for the retailer:

  1. Understanding your consumer base.  Go beyond POS analyses, which measure behavior, and understand the attitudes of shoppers in your trading area that drive that behavior.
  2. By developing a comprehensive understanding of your positioning in your trade area, you can hone in on a target and fine tune your marketing, and your in store environment, to meet their needs.
  3. Recruit the manufacturers in this effort Kraft for example has doubled its Shopper Marketing programs, tailoring its platforms based on retailer demographics.  

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