How to target millennial holiday shoppers

Although the news seems to suggest the death of the high street, shoppers are not abandoning brick-and-mortar to shop online exclusively.

With the vast majority of consumers planning to do their holiday shopping in stores, retailers need to be prepared. Shopping in-store is shifting toward the younger shopper, and the gender gap is closing too, as more men plan to shop in stores.

Sterling, V.A.,-based cloud-based workforce management platform Natural Insight recently conducted a study to find out where people want to shop this holiday season.

Also: Best Black Friday 2018 deals: Business Bargain Hunter's top picks

It surveyed 1,200 customers in August 2018 to discover who shops in stores, what motivates them, and what stress factors influence their holiday shopping experience.

The survey revealed that almost nine out of 10 shoppers (88 percent) still intend to shop in stores this holiday season.

Each year shoppers plan ahead and start their shopping before December.

Already this year, early in-store shopping plans have increased by nine percent, and almost half of consumers plan to shop in stores before December.

Some even plan to shop earlier than Thanksgiving.

How to target Millennial holiday shoppers ZDNet
When will you shop for the holidays? (Image: Natural Insight)

Black Friday shopping has increased from 2017, with 20 percent of respondents planning to do most of their holiday shopping on Black Friday, as opposed to 15 percent last year. Half of Black Friday shoppers will be between 18 years old and 29 years old.

People aged 44 to 60 were 2017's largest in-store shopping group, yet 30 to 44 year olds beat them this year at 92 percent. The amount of 18 to 29 year old shoppers also significantly increased from last year -- this year, 88 percent intend to shop in stores.

However, although more people plan to shop in-store, the average in-store spending might be slightly down. Around 54 percent of shoppers say that they expect to spend less than $250 in stores, compared to 48 percent last year.

CNET: Best Black Friday deals 2018 | Best Holiday gifts 2018 | Best TVs to give for the holidays

Overall, men will spend more than women, with 19 percent of men planning to spend more than $500 compared to only 12 percent of women. And 57 percent of women plan to spend less than $250 in stores this holiday season, compared to 50 percent of men.

Over half of shoppers want the ability to see, touch, and try out products before buying.

This factor is even more important for older generations: 65 percent of shoppers over 60 years old said experiencing products before buying was a main reason they shopped in stores during the holidays.

Customer service is a must, too. Whilst only eight percent of respondents reported knowledgeable sales associates as a main reason they shop in stores, about a third of shoppers think helpful floor reps could improve their holiday shopping experience.

And unavailable or unhelpful reps leave a lasting impression on customers.

TechRepublic: A guide to tech and non-tech holiday gifts to buy online | Photos: Cool gifts for bosses to buy for employees | The do's and don'ts of giving holiday gifts to your coworkers

When asked about bad shopping experiences, a high number of shoppers mentioned either the lack of available sales associates, the lack of knowledgeable floor representatives, or rude staff as a key reason for their experience.

So, how can brands target millennial shoppers and get them to spend?

They need to remember that merchandising is king. Fancy trends are great, but attractive product displays and full shelves are still the No. 1 way to make a sale.

Brands also need to share their values. Millennials tend to spend their money on brands that are aligned with their values. They also need to use experiential marketing to attract more shoppers.

Most of all, brands need to watch the trends and be prepared to rapidly change if a new, shiny marketing technique is sweeping up all their customers.

Previous and related coverage:

Generation Why Wait: Millennials spend more to wait less

Millennials are the most willing generation to throw the budget out the window for a faster customer experience.

Wednesday ads drive higher in-store traffic, study shows

We are more likely to visit stores if we hear radio ads on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, according to a new study.

How to survive the retail apocalypse

With the growing popularity of online shopping, retailers are facing a crisis.

Over half of consumers want businesses to text them back

The majority of consumers and small business owners prefer to text each other more often, according to a recent survey.