Have Yourself a Merry Millennial Christmas

Photo by D Sharon Pruitt

Guest post by Sam Davidson

By all accounts, this holiday shopping season will be better than last year, and much improved. The National Retail Federation is predicting a 2.3% increase in spending. While modest, this kind of growth is welcome news for retailers.

Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, the mad dash to Christmas Eve is on. Stores will continue to offer promotions and discounts in order to lure shoppers inside to purchase gifts for loved ones and themselves.

One coveted demographic (all year round) is the Millennial shopper. In this video of ComScore’s Gian Fulgoli, it appears that the overall spike in online shopping this year will be a “generational thing.”  After all, it’s easy to shop online when you’ve been doing it since you were old enough to count money.”

How can companies convince Generation Y shop at their store (either in person or online)? Here are three emerging trends to watch over the next few weeks:

Be good
The first generation to graduate high school and college with community service requirements, Millennials know how to volunteer. They also look to extend those passions and values to their purchases, choosing products and services that make a difference. They buy TOMS shoes en masse and now other companies are targeting Millennials as the social-aware shopper.

Be digital
Digital natives, Millennails know how to find deals on the Web. They also know how to check in, buy up Groupons, and send gift cards online. While retail outlets expect a 2% growth, online spending should grow by as much as 11%. Combine this forecast with the fact that most Millennials wait to shop and I think we all know where and how they’ll be buying presents.

Be personal
Millennials are killing the holiday card. When you can text or email your sentiments, why fool with stamps and envelopes? Likewise, because of today’s digital tools, more stores and companies are offering discounts and deals tailored to the younger set, whether it’s when they check in or when they share a deal with their personal network. This article from YPulse highlights some of the innovative marketing being done by Coke, Gap, and American Eagle, among others. It even looks like some companies are being good and digital in order to be personal.

Come January, we’ll be able to see how this holiday season was for Millennials. The hard reality is that the Millennial unemployment rate is hovering around 15%. Facts like this could make irrelevant the three suggestions above if not coupled with attractive deals and coupons. Thus, sometimes, the Millennial shopper is no different than any other generation: Everyone’s looking to save a buck.

Sam Davidson is a writer, entrepreneur, and dreamer who believes that the world needs more passionate people. To help people find and live their passion, he has written 50 Things Your Life Doesn’t Need. He is the co-founder of Cool People Care and Proof Branding, and lives in Nashville with his wife and daughter. Sam is  a member of Brand Amplitude’s Gen Y Super Consumer panel.