top of page

How Millennials and Post-Millennials are Shaping the Retail Industry

Luxury brands have been known to adhere to traditional retail strategies: simply displaying their products in company-owned shops or department stores. They have been reluctant to depart from this conventional approach to maintain their elite and exclusive status. However, even such luxury brands are beginning to try out new retail strategies in recent years.

Louis Vuitton, for example, has recently launched an online game called Endless Runner. The retro-style game, which you can play by jumping over obstacles and collecting Louis Vuitton monograms, depicts the streets of 1980s New York. Inspired by the Men’s Fall-Winter 2019 Fashion Show, the game captures the attention of people who used to play this kind of games in their youths. This attention naturally leads to an increase in the awareness of the brand’s new collection.

What Louis Vuitton has done is just one of the many cases of how companies are experimenting with different approaches to target a new customer segment: the millennials.

The millennials are the demographic generation following Baby Boomers and Generation X. Generally, people who were born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s are termed millennials. As of 2019, the millennials are in their 30s or mid-to-late 20s, which makes them the critical shopping demographic. It is crucial for companies to truly understand the attributes of the millennials since they display distinct shopping habits different from earlier generations.

Millennials value experiences.

Compared to older generations, millennials value experiences over material things. Whereas retailers could compete on the price and quality of their goods in the past, retailers now need to focus on delivering exciting customer experiences. Almost half of the millennials are willing to pay as much as 20% more for impressive experiences. In fact, many companies already recognize this trend and are trying to attract customers through experiential marketing.

To advertise the launch of its fully-automated coffee machine that offers barista-quality coffee with customizable options, DeLonghi set up several pop-up stores. Customers could order their choice of coffee through the mobile app and pick the coffee up at the store. By letting customers try out what the brand can offer, DeLonghi succeeded in establishing supporters of the brand.

Millennials seek personalization and customization.

Millennials are a self-centered generation, and they want to be treated as individuals. They reward brands which make them feel more relevant to the brand. They are part of the generation that feels frustrated when companies send mass e-mails, and they are willing to share personal data if it allows companies to create a more relevant message specifically designed for them. Sephora, a personal care and beauty brand, experienced a 16% increase in online transactions after personalizing its website to different customers.

Customized products also allow millennials to feel more connected to the brand. At Nike, customers can customize the sneakers, from the color of the sneaker to the type of sole they want to place inside the sneaker. The evolution of the brand to adapt to the millennials led Nike to be ranked 1st among the top 100 millennial brands.

Millennials demand seamless omnichannel shopping.

Nearly two-thirds of millennials in the US use some mix of online and in-store shopping to make significant purchases. Although millennials are a relatively tech-savvy generation, they have not stopped going to traditional brick-and-mortar stores. They will search online for information and insight to find the best product with the best offers. Many millennials emphasize that they still buy in-store because “You want to touch it; you want to smell it; you want to pick it up.” One challenge that arises for retailers is creating a seamless shopping experience for the millennials, from research to purchase, both online and offline. At Chipotle, a fast-food chain restaurant, the company’s website provides nutritional information on their menu. The mobile app, which allows customers to locate nearby stores and place orders, also demonstrates what a seamless omnichannel operation should look like.

Screenshots of Chipotle mobile ordering application

It might seem like understanding the shopping behaviors of the millennials is a cure-all for retailers. Unfortunately, a new generation is on its way: Generation Z, the generation born after the mid-1990s. Despite most of the members still not being in the workforce, the spending of Gen Z accounts for as much as 7.5% of the total household spending. Imagine how much this number will grow in 10~15 years when members of this generation carry more spending power. Generation Z is a generation that companies cannot ignore, and they need to get prepared for the emergence of the new generation.

Generation Z is more digital than millennials.

One key aspect that differentiates Generation Z from the millennials is the fact that Gen Zers are true ‘digital natives.’ Generation Z has not known a period without the Internet, mobile phones, and social media. Generation Z spends most of their free time online, and social media such as Instagram, Snapchat, or Youtube are an integral part of their life. They spend more than seven hours a day on social media, continuously refreshing their feed for new updates every few minutes. 3 out of 4 Generation Z visit Youtube daily.

Naturally, Generation Z is heavily influenced by the contents on social media. They turn to Youtube videos and social media posts from their friends or ‘influencers’ before making purchasing decisions. They also like to share their purchases on social media. If Generation Z visits a brick-and-mortar store, it is because the physical store provides them with an ‘Instagrammable experience.’

For brands that wish to survive in the ever-complex world of retail, understanding how the millennials and Generation Z are different from their older generations could make all the difference. At the end of the day, retailers who adapt to these attributes will be rewarded with more customers from the present and upcoming generation.


Cyclops is a retail analytics system that can help retailers generate insights into how their customers shop inside their stores. To understand more about how Cyclops can help retailers digitally transform their stores amid the COVID-19 pandemic, visit our website:


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page