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How Millennials’ Top 5 Favorite Brands Earn Their Loyalty

By Jasmine Glasheen. 

Millennials are about to peak in buying power, whether your business is ready for it or not. But the fact that Generation Y is coming of age financially doesn’t have to be a death knell for your business. There’s a lot of contradictory research out there on Millennial values, purchasing patterns, and lifestyles; but we really aren’t that complicated, or as disloyal of consumers as recent articles portray us to be. In fact, it’s reported that 60 percent of Millennials say that they are usually or always loyal to the brands that they currently buy.

Loyalty marketing to millennials is not a lost cause. Like prior generations, certain marketing measures resonate with us, others don’t. To better understand what inspires my generation to cough up their hard-earned cash, let’s take a look at the top five retailers identified as where Millennials shop the most in a recent study of over 220 million Americans by Cambridge Analytica.

  1. Urban Outfitters

With all the controversial thunder surrounding Urban Outfitters, it’s still the number one retail destination for Generation Y. Proving the oft lamented theory that, in today’s social media world, no publicity is bad publicity. Check out this list by Ranker http://www.ranker.com/list/urban-outfitters-controversy-list/brigittenajarian of Urban Outfitters’ latest crimes. Now, I’m not advocating retailers join UO in their offenses. But retailers can use UO’s success to inspire them to take risks. Millennials value authenticity and prefer controversy to stagnancy. You’re better off running the risk of making us angry than putting us to sleep.

Their inventory is centered around renovated heritage brands like Adidas and Tommy Hilfiger, which resonate with a Millennial audience. Urban also taps into philanthropic marketing with collaborations such as their “Women Supporting Women” infinity symbol pin, donating the proceeds to Women’s Way.

Social Media Moves: Urban’s Instagram feed has a link leading followers to their branded Youtube channel. They also tap into Millennial and Gen Z’s proclivity for diverse, regular seeming spearheads with their blog.

  1. Charlotte Russe

We want clothes we can afford. Charlotte Russe is known for offering stackable coupons on top of market crashingly low prices, and offering the masses quick knock-offs of runway looks. Although fast fashion has recently caught a lot of flack for its environmental impact http://www.newsweek.com/2016/09/09/old-clothes-fashion-waste-crisis-494824.html, Charlotte Russe is still frequented by young people who want to look good on the super-cheap.

The Charlotte Russe app reached more than 1 million downloads month after launching. The speed and convenience of the app, performing “20 to 30 times faster” than the average smartphone shopping experience, has price-conscious Millennials and impulse shoppers alike regularly purchasing from the brand.

Social Media Moves: Almost half of Millennials identify as multicultural, and we want to be marketed to by people that look like us. Charlotte Russe’s Instagram has images of models of all nationalities and sizes decked out in girly pink and flowers.

  1. Hot Topic

“Mainstream counterculture” is not an oxymoron in a world of pastel haircolors and tattooed teachers. Hot Topic’s success is evidence of just how lucrative it can be to cater to Millennials’ perceived individuality.Their nostalgic, ironic selection of all the brands we wore in high school, including a heavy spattering of Marvel characters, prompted Rack to declare, “Hot Topic is going to win 2017.”

Hot Topic is a fast responder to new trends in film and social media. The brand quickly comes out with merchandise reflecting current trends, such as their recent Beauty and the Beast themed clothing and accessories. They generate excitement with flash sales and discounts, encouraging younger customers to regularly visit their site.

Social Media Moves: Never to miss a trend, Hot Topic’s Facebook page cover photo offers visitors a free 30 day trial of “Crunchy Roll Premium” with any 25 dollar anime purchase. Obscure as that seems, it’s niche market moves like this one that garnered Hot Topic the 5,684,658 Facebook likes they have today.

  1. H&M

H&M is the perfect mix of innovation, fast fashion and sustainability. Their apparel addresses the millennials’ need for specific apparel. According to Edgecase data, “Allowing millennial shoppers to search by specific concerns like ‘Neckline’ or ‘Silhouette’ when searching online for dresses can raise average order price – and typically gross margin – by 80 percent.”

Furthermore, H&M stays abreast of technology in the retail sector. Their newest app, Coded Couture, uses Google to take in the user’s environment and preferences, resulting in wardrobe suggestions perfectly curated to their unique needs. They’re also working to boost their sustainability report, making clothing with less water and offering customers the opportunity to recycle their denim at store locations.

Social Media Moves: H&M’s Instagram is chocked full of Pinterestable outfit suggestions and philanthropic marketing, perfectly targeted towards millennials’ do-gooder buying mentality.

  1. Aeropostale

Talk about a story of hope for flailing retailers: Aeropostale crashed, burned, and came back to life under new management. Their #FreeToBe hashtag allows customers to shop looks by social media influencer; their athleisure line is incredibly affordable, with most items priced from 8 to 15 dollars.

Most importantly, Aeropostale speaks our language, and that language is increasingly visual. With rotating images showing products from multiple angles, Aeropostale proves that if you want to make it with Millennials, your photos need to be on point.

Social Media Moves: Aeropostale’s Instagram is selling a lifestyle. Their viral user generated content campaign under the hashtag #InAero appeals to Millennial values by marketing the festival and outdoor lifestyle.

Finally, remember that Millennials are about to peak in buying power… whether your business is ready for it or not. By understanding how other brands are making Millennials react to their businesses, you can better understand how to position yours.


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