The digital revolution has changed everything we thought we knew about marketing, especially when it comes to marketing to Millennials – those 18 to 33 years old, who have come of age in the digital age. The purchase funnel has changed, and those who refuse to adapt their marketing to the new model won’t be able to compete.
It’s not just Millennials that shop differently, but they are the generation top of mind right now for a lot of retailers, because they are influential spenders who will soon (by 2017 by most estimates) comprise the most powerful spending group of all. Understanding how they shop, and tailoring marketing efforts to their needs, is paramount. And it has to happen now if you don’t want to be lost in the shuffle down the road.
So how is the consumer decision journey being changed, and what does this loyalty loop represent?
The new purchase funnel adds a behavior the old one didn’t have: interact. This is important. The point of sale is no longer the end of the story – in fact, it’s just the beginning. Because it’s after the purchase that consumers inform other consumers – your potential customers – about their experience.
But make no mistake that consumers use the Internet to inform their decision-making at every phase, and that is why you need to change what you’re doing, and why you need a loyalty program to keep consumers glued to your brand over all others.
At which phases of this new loyalty loop can you impact purchase behavior? All of them.
Want your brand top-of-mind when consumers are trying to decide where to spend? You need strong brand awareness to break through the noise. Want a tip? More than three-quarters of Millennials rate loyalty and reward programs as “very” or “somewhat” likely to make a difference in their purchase decisions. Make sure you have one, and make it killer.
This is where you might feel powerless, or want to revert back to old push marketing techniques. Don’t. Millennials in particular do not want marketers shoving products down their throat, and they don’t trust marketers anyway. They want to seek out the information for themselves, reading online reviews, consulting friends and family via social media channels, and in person. Millennials will take the word of a stranger who has actually used a product over the claims made on your brand’s website, so be sure they have access to user generated content, or they’ll move along to the next brand on the list.
You want all that research to pay off in your favor, which means quality products, with appealing packaging and touch points in-store and on-shelf, because until they’ve actually taken your product to the register, anyone doing better grabbing their attention at this crucial juncture could still take the prize.
Once the purchase has been made, your real marketing journey begins. You want your customers advocating for your brand. You want them to come back and bring friends, again and again. A loyalty program is critical to this end. You want your customers to be motivated to engage with your brand on social media, to share their experiences with friends. Reward these behaviors and consumers will reward you with their continued spending.
You’ll notice that the loop provides opportunities for digital touch points throughout the entire purchase funnel, and that’s where you want to focus your energy and make any necessary changes. If you do that, you’ll be able to grab Millennials attention now, and build their loyalty as they move into their greatest spending phase. If you don’t, it just may be too late by the time you decide to adapt.