Millennial Consumers - Understanding key trends driving consumer behaviours

Millennial Consumers - Understanding key trends driving consumer behaviours


The millennial generation has been a much maligned one in terms of how the rest of society perceives it. However, the reality is very different from the perceived differences between it and the previous generations. Millennials want much of the same things in life; they haven’t changed that dramatically from other ages of people and still have the same basic needs and life goals. However, they do have unique circumstances that they have evolved into, such as the widespread use of technology allowing people to be online at all times, reduced disposable incomes and underemployment compared to previous generations and better education on lifestyle, health and ethics. Many of these factors have led to all kinds of unusual trends in the business world as companies adjust and try to maneuver to cater for any drop off in sales to young people. Sometimes though, many of the new products and changes we see are solving a modern problem that millennials have, rather than being something that millennials actually want. Fundamentally millennials want the same things in life and in many situations minor tweaks to products and brands can prevent millennials leaving companies behind.

Key Questions Answered

  • What products do millennials favor?
  • Why do millennials favor and purchase the types of products that they do?
  • How are they different from previous generations?
  • How is this affecting the food, marketing, technology and retail industries worldwide?
  • Learn about the key drivers behind millennial consumer behaviour and how companies are learning to tailor their products to suit.
  • Examine which types of industries and businesses are doing particularly well with millennials and which are not.
  • See how millennial consumer behaviour is changing our highstreets and online spaces.
Reasons to buy

The behavioral changes exhibited by millennials have also resulted in changing marketing strategies to appeal to them. Traditional methods are less effective, with personalization a key driver. This refers to both dictating their own experience with the product, and also using peer review (whether social networks or online reviews) to judge which product is best for them. Social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube have drawn the attention of companies, particularly in the fashion and beauty industry, as vloggers and streamers become the new gatekeepers to access millennials. In the videogames industry, platforms such as Twitch are thriving, and live streaming is another area in which companies can explore opportunities. As smartphones are now the primary point of online access for millennials, strong mobile marketing infrastructure is essential. Along with personalization, millennials like companies that take ethical issues seriously. However, companies must be prepared to back their campaigns, as L'Oréal divided its customers after it fired transgender model and political activist Munroe Bergdorf (a week after hiring her to improve diversity) due to her social media response to the Charlottesville march.

The millennial generation is proving to be a tricky group to cater to for many businesses. At face value, in the restaurant and food retail industry, millennials are good consumers of food products eating out regularly, ordering takeaways and cooking at home just as much if not more than the generations before them. However they tend to have completely different priorities (convenience and unique experiences for instance) and some established brands and food stuffs are suffering as a result of a stuffy outdated image or ineffective branding, when faced with competition from new brands more able to connect with the millennial generation. Finding ways to appeal to the specifics of the generation is not a tall order, but it may alienate brands from their traditional customers in process, so for many restaurant and food brands the transition is not a painless one.

News outlets abound with reports that various products are in decline due to disinterest from millennials; commentators cite a fundamental shift in attitude to ownership as the primary cause, but there is more to it. Whilst it is true attitudes among many millennials have shifted compared to previous generations, other causes such as necessity and economic conditions must at least rank alongside cultural developments to explain trends. Perceptions among millennials on what is required for an acceptable standard of living are forcing changes in ownership of certain product types (such as houses and cars) which were formerly a staple item for most people. Apocalyptic predictions of what may happen based upon millennial behavior may have some underpinning but can also be accused of missing the point that millennials are mainly reacting to a changing world.

Executive Summary 2
Millennials & marketing: Influencers become critical to success 2
Restaurants & Food Retail: Millennials have specific requirements when it comes to food 2
Millennials & Ownership: Generation cares less about ownership, but predictions of doom are exaggerated 2
Millennials & Activities: Happy to spend on activities and prioritize experiences 3
Millennials & Technology: E-commerce and sharing apps prosper at expense of traditional outlets 3
Millennials & marketing: Influencers become critical to success 9
Personalization of experiences works with millennials 9
Instagram and YouTube have become powerful marketing tools 9
Weibo and WeChat also significant in China 10
User generated content can help brand make inroads 10
Starbucks, and Urban Outfitters have good UGC strategies 10
User generated content has pitfalls 11
Influencers are also a good entry point for millennials 11
YouTube lookbooks and sponsored content an entry point 11
Fashion Nova employed Instagram influencers to great success 11
Instagram model reveals depths of marketing strategies 12
Live streaming offers cheaper way to authenticate influencer 12
Twitch has potential to expand beyond gaming roots 13
China is ahead of the curve for live streaming 13
Regulatory crackdown has not dimmed investor spirits 14
Mobile infrastructure significant to millennials 14
Ethical stances more important to millennials 14
Rising tide of SMEs with outwardly socially conscious objectives 14
L'Oréal divided its customers over Munroe Bergdorf incident 15
Restaurants & Food Retail: Millennials have specific requirements when it comes to food 16
Healthy and ethical foods are more important for this generation 16
Fast casual shows just how important convenience is for millennial customers 17
Introducing new fashionable ingredients to remain on trend 18
New ordering tech and home delivery very useful for businesses 18
Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Just Eat have brought restaurant food to the home 19
Money is a big issue for millennials as they are underemployed and have less disposable income 20
Millenials care less about ownership, but predictions of doom are exaggerated 22
Fewer homes are purchased by millennials, but many still harbor desires to become home owners 22
Culture of millennial car ownership is slipping under weight of economic pressure 23
Millennials are leading society to entertainment free of ownership 24
Music has been transformed by millennials uninterested in ownership, creating new players 26
Attracted by low costs, millennials are using Uber to get about, but impact on taxi market varies 27
Millennials & Activities: happy to spend on activities and prioritize experiences 28
Cost is a major driver of purchasing choices, because of lower wages 28
Millennials are not willing to accept worsened quality of life despite less disposable income 29
It has been identified that millennials are more willing to spend on the “authentic” experience 30
Festivals and day events really connect with millennials and numbers are booming 31
Holidays with millennials are less traditional and tend to favor “instagramable” experiences 32
Attracting millennials to hotels is entirely possible with some changes 33
Unique experiences of all types can help to sell to millennials 35
Technology: e-commerce and sharing apps prosper at expense of traditional outlets 36
Millennials are extremely online 36
Millennial online habits reflected in e-commerce 36
Online retail continues to grow 37
Apparel the main beneficiary 37
Traditional retail outlets losing ground 38
Department stores suffering in both US and UK 38
Selfridges invests online in attempt to adapt 38
Apps facilitate cheaper sharing services in austere age 39
Sharing economy apps have potential to grow 39
Companies that prioritize convenience and price succeed 39
Tech startups generally lead to aggressive expansion 40
Sharing economy has led to the rise of the gig economy 40
Gig economy workers' conditions are damaging publicity 40
Deliveroo faces strikes after attempts to revise contracts 41
Sharing and gig economy present problems for governments 41
Points of Interest 42
Appendix 43
Further Reading 43
Sources 43
Ask the analyst 44
About MarketLine 44
Disclaimer 44
List of Tables
Table 1: Growth in UK operations of online retailers 38
List of Figures
Figure 1: Instagram and YouTube logos 9
Figure 2: Urban Outfitters Community 10
Figure 3: Fashion Nova's initial advert with Kylie Jenner 12
Figure 4: Momo advertising 13
Figure 5: Survey of three generations over willingness to spend more on healthier products 16
Figure 6: USA average obesity levels by age group 2016 17
Figure 7: Sriracha & Kale Burger from McDonald’s 18
Figure 8: Self-service checkout from McDonalds 19
Figure 9: Millennial unemployment, US 2017 20
Figure 10: % of generation that purchases food away from home twice a week 21
Figure 11: HSBC Generation Buy survey, 2016 Percentage of millennials who own their own home 22
Figure 12: Average house prices in London, North West England, and South East England Jan 2010 – July 2017 (£) 23
Figure 13: UK number of cars purchased 2010-2016 millions 24
Figure 14: Netflix revenues ($bn) 2012-2016 25
Figure 15: Spotify revenues (EURbn) 2012-2016 26
Figure 16: Uber app 27
Figure 17: UK house prices 1950-2017 28
Figure 18: Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers spending compared US, (% asked willing to spend on) 29
Figure 19: Tough Mudder event provides a unique day experience 30
Figure 20: Survey of millennial interest in outdoor activities 31
Figure 21: Number of annual festival events 2007 & 2017 compared 32
Figure 22: Travelling focused on social media content 33
Figure 23: Hilton Canopy hotel room, Reykjavik 34
Figure 24: Nvidia at gaming convention 35
Figure 25: Internet activities by age group, 2017, UK 36
Figure 26: Frequency of online shopping, by age group 2017, UK 37
Figure 27: Logos of sharing economy pioneers 39
Figure 28: Deliveroo driver protests in France and London 41

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