Deconstructing the ‘Myth’ about Generation Y: Why You Should Stop Trying to Please Everyone

The term “millennial” is too often used as an umbrella term for a particular, ideal consumer-type. The Internet is littered with articles and surveys trying to deconstruct millennial consumers, convincing you that they have certain preferences and will engage with particular content. The millennial is treated as a single consumer with neatly packaged likes and dislikes, tucked away into boxes that one need only to refer back to when devising marketing strategy or making a pricing decision. The problem with this strategy is that millennials cannot be callously lumped into one category, especially in retail. While certain brands may be experiencing a decline, other brands are thriving. Sure, there has been a net increase in the number of independent retail outfits in the UK but there has also been a surge in profits for fashion chains like H&M and Forever 21.

In the wake of the Information Age, there has undoubtedly been a decline in reliance on brands. In the past, consumers heavily relied on brands because of dependability, as a result of a lack of information. Fewer choices were available to consumers and brands earned their reputation through popularity. In the current milieu of the technologically and digitally savvy population, consumers are a click away from accessing reviews, photos and recommendations for products. This opens up a plethora of options to the consumer and while some stick to brands, others don’t.

What independent retailers need to understand is that brands haven’t disappeared. There is still going to be a significant subset of people flocking to brands or searching for the best deal for branded retail online via a secondary seller. Independent retailers shouldn’t target these consumers; they should target the ones who would want to shop at independent outfits in the first place. Independent retailers can never replace high street brands, but they can displace them. Rather than focusing on competing with brands, independent retailers should concentrate on differentiating themselves from them.

While millennials cannot be broadly lumped together into one category, there are some core beliefs that independent retailers could tap into. A recent survey found that 87 percent of consumers wanted a relationship with their brands but only 17 percent felt that existed. This is extremely significant feedback independent retailers could utilise to engage with customers. By telling an interesting story or producing green products that less harmfully impact the environment, an independent retailer may be able to win-over a portion of the millennial population.

So, independent retailers should not attempt to target the entire consumer base. By virtue of being an independent outfit, boutiques have the advantage of a niche consumer base. Hence, independent retailers can and should take advantage of their position by catering to a particular subset of the population, whether by appealing to their socially responsible, highly fashionable or emotional side. The choice is up to the retailer. With consumers more empowered than ever before, independent retailers should embrace their uniqueness and not shy away from being edgy, quirky or even just plain weird.

Contributed by Kanan Parida, Marketing Consultant at Bluebird Global. Bluebird helps merchants grow, providing technological consultancy specialising in innovative POS systems for retail and hospitality. It works with a number of different POS providers to offer tailored solutions to clients, from assessing needs and advising on solutions all the way through to implementation. Bluebird will provide the software, hardware, training, support and anything else to get clients up and running as swiftly as possible.

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