How Online Retailers Can Cater to Millennials

These three quick tips will help ensure that you’re speaking the same language as your Millennial customers

Rob Cassidy
Rob Cassidy

As the largest and most diverse generation the U.S. has ever seen, it’s no wonder retailers are trying to connect with and understand the cohort of Americans born between 1980 and the mid-2000s, Millennials. Comprising one-third of the total U.S. population—even more than the Baby Boomers—Millennials will soon be reaching their prime working and spending years, delivering a substantial impact on the economy.

Yet, even though being a digital native may sound alien to those of us who witnessed McDonald’s introduce its first Happy Meal, Millennials themselves are not aliens. Just like fellow Americans and generations before them, Millennials appreciate good products, prices and brands.

Here are three quick tips that will help to ensure you’re speaking the same language as your Millennial customers:

1. Mind the Basics

Millennials may seem complicated, but, just like anyone else, they have priorities. When it comes to the decision of clicking the purchase button, product quality remains central, but price is a more important factor than it was for previous generations. While everyone wants a good deal, Millennials were coming of age during one of the most challenging economic times in recent history and they’re wise to finding maximum convenience at minimum cost. The bottom line is that they want to know what they’re buying and what they’re buying into.

2. Hire Millennials and Give Them Real Responsibilities

If you want to appeal to this newly powerful consumer group, you’ll need a team of insiders that inherently understands what its members value. You’re not going to figure this out or tap into the generation simply by hiring a twenty-something to alphabetize your files or—perhaps more accurately now—organize your Dropbox. In order to gain insight into the Millennial consumer, it’s essential to have key employees who see things from that perspective. And because you may not always understand the viewpoints of Millennials, it’s just as crucial to be open to being reverse-mentored by someone much younger than yourself.

3. Market to Millennials in their Own Context

Millennials aren’t going to try to meet you on your own old, familiar marketing turf. They’re constantly congregating on new platforms—migrating from Facebook to Snapchat, Netflix to Vessel. This means that the rendezvous point for marketing connection is going to change frequently and rapidly. Instead of being intimidated by the switch-ups or confused by your lack of being in the know,  check back in with the last part of Tip 2 and don’t be afraid to learn something from the more youthful element in your organization.

Within a few years, the buying power of Millennials may surpass that of even their parents, the Baby Boomers. By 2017, it’s estimated that these young adults will be spending $200 billion a year and at least $10 trillion over their lifetimes as consumers. It’s smart to get in touch with what Millennials want and how they want to consume, now more than ever. Even though new generations have the phenomenal ability to mystify those who came before them, connecting with Millennials is not rocket science—it’s about being true to the basics, being open to learning and just being plain human.

Rob Cassidy is the president of