Millennials – or Gen M – are changing the world, one purchase at a time. Revolutionizing retail through engaging with brands they love and snubbing those that don’t deliver with the right customer experience and expectations, Gen M are forcing businesses at all points in the supply chain to change.
In Part 1 of this two-part blog post, we focused our discussion on exactly how Gen M’s customer experience expectations are changing retail businesses on the front end. In the following Part 2, we’re going to take a deeper dive into how Gen M-driven retail trends are forcing businesses to change at an increasingly faster pace, while Gen M spending habits are cutting out the average middle retailer in favour of every-day commodities and high-end luxury. Read on!
In Part 1 of this post, we reviewed how Gen M’s customer experience expectations are changing the way businesses have to function if they want to stay competitive. In this post, we’ll look into two other Gen M-influenced trends that are also forcing businesses to change the way their technology stack is integrated, how they think, and how they draw in the consumer.
2. Fast Fashion and Other Gen M Retail Trends
Oh, the Millennial-influenced trend. You’ve likely already seen a number of them rise from obscurity into the pinnacle of pop-media references, only to disappear forever in a few weeks time.
Remember “fleek“? Fleek was big in the summer of 2015. Speaking with my 17 year old siblings, fleek is so over. Millennial-generated shopping trends tend to last just about as long.
Let me introduce you to the world of Fast Fashion.
Fast Fashion refers to how quickly Gen M fashion trends change. It’s the model that H&M and Zara have built their empires on: pushing the latest trends off the runways out onto the retail shelves as quickly as possible, turning these trends over on a monthly (or faster) basis.
Anyone who frequents either H&M or Zara knows just how quickly their stock changes. How does this appeal to Gen M? It appeals directly to their sense of staying on top of (retail) trends while dually keeping their short attention spans tuned into these retail trends.
Fast Fashion is affecting how businesses operate.
Being able to service Gen M’s lust for Fast Fashion and the high inventory turn over both in store and online means a sophisticated back-end technology stack for businesses. A robust ERP system that’s fully integrated with an ecommerce cart, POS, marketing automation, and more is a must if a business hopes to meet the high demands of the Millennial Fast Fashion game. You can read just how Zara does it here.
Fast Fashion is just one example of how Gen M is creating retail trends that retailers and businesses are being forced to adopt if they want to stay competitive. Other trends include enticing customers into stores with food and beverages, focusing on the experience of the shopping trip with perks like creating communities around products or brands, and many more.
The short story surrounding all these retail trends (and all the others to come in the future) is that businesses are being forced to be agile in adapting to the demanding consumer. A robust technology stack, integrated properly for scalability and quick technology additions or substitutions, is an absolute must.
3. Gen M Spending Habits
Gen M is fickle on how they spend their money. A generation who were thrown into a less than forgiving job market, they now make up a large chunk of the labour market. They now have a little bit of disposable income, and Gen M isn’t afraid to spend – if their needs are met. Learn more about Gen M in this great infographic, or by clicking the image below.
We’re starting to see a divide in how Gen M spends their money: they have their everyday incidentals that they must purchase, like groceries. But when it comes to vacations, cars, furniture, and plenty of products and clothing, Gen M will spend a little more in exchange for luxury.
Businesses in this average middle are now struggling with the dilemma of reinventing their brands to harmonize better with what Gen M embodies every day. Some businesses are giving it a good go: Le Chateau has aggressively marketed its new image in the past year since we’ve written about them. Click here for a great free presentation on how to align your brand and customer experience to your audience.
What’s interesting is that luxury retail, a long-time hold out of integrated omni-channel commerce, is finally starting to jump on board. Why? Because that’s how their audience – Gen M – wants to interact with their brands: in a unified experience whether it’s online or in person in a bricks-and-mortar store.
Businesses in all sectors are being forced into the fully integrated omni-channel space – and those who hold out might wake up one morning to find out it’s too late.
Gen M is one of the most elusive cohorts. Their tastes change as quickly as the weather, and the trends they follow seems to be no more than blips. Appealing to this difficult market segment that is only predicted to grow in influence and spending power starts with solidifying what your brand should be on the consumer-facing side of your business. And to provide enticing customer experiences, you need to approach your back-end technology stack with strategy, including fully integrating all your applications and technology together to ensure you can deliver on that excellent customer experience time after time.
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