Loyal customers — the Holy Grail for retailers.
Repeat shoppers are a source of recurring revenue. Smart businesspeople know that success lies in cultivating loyalty, and that means more than creating programs that simply collect customer information.
Today's educated customers understand loyalty programs are often of more value to retailers than to customers.
Millennials in particular are sensitive to that value proposition, and retailers are starting to serve up programs targeted toward the specific desires of this demographic.
A quarter of millennials and 19% of Gen Xers like to shop with family and friends. It's a social activity that's enjoyed at a brick-and-mortar storefront.
But, while Gen Xers value the relationship with a store, Millennials value experience and don't have the same brand loyalty as the older generation.
It's easier to get a millennial to try a competing brand, so it's more difficult to retain millennials as customers.
Retailers have to work at providing customers perceived value consistently to earn their loyalty.
3 things Millennials look for:
1. Technological "wins"<
How does a retailer make it easy for customers?
Millennials are dependent on their phones; 84% of them in a recent study said their mobile devices were the most important thing in their lives.
Retailers can use that knowledge to their benefit by, for example, offering mobile apps that are easy-to-use and relevant.
Many say that shopping is easier through an app than through a web site; by offering a digital experience that reduces purchasing friction and makes shopping easier, a brand can improve its relationship with millennials.
2. Shared value system
What matters to a brand, matters to Millennials.
For example, Patagonia has supported grassroots activists working to find solutions to the environmental crisis.
Shake Shack's ethos is "We stand for something good," which is reflected in its carefully sourced premium ingredients from like-minded purveyors as well as in its community support.
Customers feel good purchasing from companies that align with their world views.
Yes, for customers, it's all about "me."
That doesn't mean obsequious associates greeting customers they don't personally know by their first name or creepily sending birthday cards to clients they've barely served.
Rather, it means positioning the company in a way that feels customized.
That includes having Instagram-worthy products, immediate customer service response and marketing that focuses on word-of-mouth.
Influencers — high-profile customers whose style is "gospel" — can be more powerful brand advocates than any type of advertising.
But it's not all about celebrity: For example, Carter's apparel encourages Millennial parents who want to share photos of their Carter's-clad babies to use its hashtag #lovecarters.
Retailers can have paying customers, or they can have loyal customers.
High quality products and experiences encourage loyalty in Millennials, who tend to be more easily swayed by special promotions and lower cost than previous generations.
However, loyalty can be earned: Retailers with compelling brand stories and experiences that regularly exceed expectations are positioning themselves to welcome the elusive repeat millennial customer.