Millennials and the new value of shopper marketing - SmartBrief

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Millennials and the new value of shopper marketing

4 min read


Daren Sorenson

The Coca-Cola Company sponsors this blog post and leverages proprietary insights to create world-class shopper marketing activities designed to help retailers convert more shoppers into buyers.  Visit to learn more.

Digital media has changed the way and the speed in which people shop. Marketers must now provide consumers with a full buying experience both online and in-store, adding a new dimension to their jobs. In particular, understanding the purchasing habits of millennials, who were raised with online shopping as a part of daily life, can be a challenge since many younger consumers have different expectations and approaches to buying.

“They are omni-channel shoppers,” said Daren Sorenson, Director of Retail and Shopper Insights for the Coca-Cola Company’s North America Group. “Millennials enjoy shopping much more than previous generations and take joy out of simply browsing.”

In spite of the huge increase in choice brought by digital retail, the economic downturn has affected how millennials spend and what they buy. Value remains a major consideration for Millennials when deciding where to shop, according to Sorenson. They want an engaging in-store experience and diversified options, but also want retailers to keep them informed in an interesting and personal manner.

As more people share information, comments and reviews online, brands are more exposed than before the advent of the Internet. Companies need to engage with consumers, particularly those who are younger, across channels and in a way that resonates with them. But implementing a sound strategy can be tricky, particularly with so many different platforms that can share a brand’s information.

“Millennials are the most highly educated and social generation in history,” Sorenson said. “They are clever and know what they want. As a brand, you need to be authentic and transparent when communicating with this younger generation.”

Sorenson notes that one brand that got it right is the Dollar Shave Club, a Web-based e-commerce site for men founded in 2011. In 2012, the company announced itself to the world in a non-traditional manner via a funny, well-targeted YouTube video. In this clip, Dollar Shave Club showed that they do not take itself too seriously, and is a brand that firmly understands the highly visual, digital-based world. The clip has since gone viral, approaching 12 million views.

“Dollar Shave Club has gained an impressive following by telling a brand story that is authentic, entertaining and very shareable,” Sorenson said. While not every brand is in a position to mimic the Dollar Shave Club, their success is a lesson in what can be achieved when millennials become brand advocates.

For brands, having a sound omni-channel marketing strategy is key to connecting with millennials. As “digital natives”, millennials are fully comfortable operating on multiple screens and on multiple devices like laptops, smartphones or tablets. They enjoy interacting with new people and ideas via different social channels and will listen to companies that speak their language.

However, it’s not just about social media and flashy videos. The value of in-store experiences should be considered when thinking about marketing and branding. Millennials may spend a lot of time online but they have not fallen out of love with the bricks-and-mortar stores.

“As shoppers, they are less prepared than their predecessors and more reliant on in-store cues. Retailers that offer engaging store environments, and well-merchandised solutions, are the ones winning with Millennials,” Sorenson said.

Gone are the days of broadcast marketing: brands need to engage with consumers directly on an emotional level and establish a relationship.

“Digital allows for a two-way conversation between brands and consumers,” Sorenson said. “And when you understand consumers as people, you can create content that is share-worthy and engaging, rather than simply informative.”

The Coca-Cola Company speaks directly to millenials and many others via a new interactive magazine format website called Journey.