How Entitled Millennials Are Revolutionizing the Retail World, Part 1

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student-849829_1280.jpgMillennials don’t have the most positive reputation, but that’s starting to change.

Millennials (or Gen M) are revolutionizing the retail industry across all channels, and they’re doing it by holding true to at least one stereotype for this generation – their stubbornness. As a result, they’re the first generation in a long time to refuse to be pushed along by earlier generations. Instead, they’re revolutionizing retail and business by doing things the way they want to do things, and are pulling all other generations along with them, for better or for worse. 

In short, Gen M is revolutionizing retail from the bottom up.

Keep reading to see how Gen M is revolutionizing retail and forcing businesses to change to meet their demands, and what impact this will and has already started to have on how you do business in this two part blog series.


The pinnacle of the negative reputation of Gen M, as they’re slowly becoming rebranded as, can likely be attributed to that iconic TIME cover which infamously labeled them as the “me, me, me” cohort. The negative stereotypes surrounding Gen M have even reached the point where Gen M’ers themselves have internalized the negative personality traits that other have very much defined this generation by.

But for all the negative buzz surrounding Gen M, this generation is starting to come into their own. They’re making up more of the workforce, they’re earning more money, and they’re spending it in very specific ways. You can learn more about who Gen M is by checking out this infographic or by clicking the image below.

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Perhaps turning the stubbornness, that is so often attributed to Gen, M to their advantage Millennials are refusing to let preceding generations pull them into trends. Instead, they’re pulling all other generations along with them to do things the ways they want to do them.

We’re just starting to see this phenomena and it’s effects on business. In this two-part blog series, we will review three ways Millennials are changing the retail world, ultimately forcing businesses to either rise to meet their high expectations or sink into irrelevance.

1. Customer Experience Expectations

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Millennials are notoriously picky about their customer experience. A generation raised on the internet as digital natives, most don’t remember a time when e-commerce giants like Amazon and eBay weren’t around.

E-commerce heavyweight Amazon has done a particularly good job in catering to Gen M’s shopping habits with their predictive shopping carts and recommended products – not to mention their smooth checkout experience. This high-set bar for customer experience has set precedent in expectation for all other retailers – online, offline, and omnichannel – in how Gen M’ers expect to be treated.

Here are just a few things that Gen M’ers (and all other generations being ‘pulled’ along with them) take for granted as part of the customer experience. That is, these experiences are taken for granted until they’re not there or they don’t work:

  • A fast checkout experience that’s integrated with various payment processing options like VISA checkout and PayPal;
  • A smart recommendation engine that can present similar products or other products the consumer might like after adding an item to their cart;
  • An integrated marketing experience that automatically prompts customers to stay connected with the brand, often including perks or discounts; and
  • An integrated shopping cart and shipping experience that automatically sends payment receipts, shipping details, and more to the customer’s in box.

All of these customer experience expectations are directly tied to how a business integrates their data and their back-end technology stacks. If your business’ back end is a mess, the customer experience will suffer. Check out this ebook of customer experience shortfalls that the VL team put together if you don’t believe it!

What’s even more important is that these customer expectations are beginning to push out into the “real world”. The world of B2B. As fully integrated omni-channel experiences become the norm, businesses that are not up to par or worse, those who are ignoring these trends altogether will feel the pinch sooner than later. Customers are walking into bricks-and-mortar stores are expecting floor staff not only know about online deals, but can provide recommendations and insights on products across all channels as well as respect deals and incentives from online to off. A few retailers are already revolutionizing customer expectations above and beyond precedent – take a look at Sephora.


In part 2 of this post next week, we’ll look into two other trends that are forcing business to adapt to Gen M’s demands: fast fashion and other Gen M retail trends, and Gen M spending habits. Subscribe to our blog so that you don’t miss out!

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