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Decoding Deliberators: Future-Proofing Your Business


The so-called ‘millennial generation’ has been described in contradictory ways: entitled, spendthrifty,  lazy – but also creative, tech-savvy, and confident. The list of positive and less-positive attributes is long. However, beyond these superficial character assessments, what makes this generation of adults tick and how can retailers tap into their values and preferences to get their attention?

From an economic perspective, those born between 1980 and 1995 are entering the workforce in growing numbers and are set to occupy 50% of the global labor force by 2020. As their earnings increase, so will their spending. Shopping habits and demands will also change – a pivotal trend that retailers need to watch. So this generation is a crucial group to pay attention to, not just presently, but for the foreseeable decades to come. To help you get to know them better, we surveyed this group to understand their concerns and priorities when it comes to consumption.

Introducing the Deliberators

We recently conducted a survey of 1,500 UK consumers across multiple generations to understand what they want when shopping online. A dominant trait that emerged from the 16-29 age group was that when it comes to spending, they are pretty conscious with nearly half who said that they agonize over their purchase decisions and feel guilty after buying something new. We call this group the Deliberators. So how do these results fit with the array of myths associated with this age group? We're debunking some common misconceptions and offering up ways your business can sidestep them.

Misconception One: The brunch generation

Young adults are often characterized as frivolous spenders who splurge on avocado toast and bottomless brunches. 

In reality, rather than blowing their paychecks on flighty purchases, the Deliberators adopt a much more considered approach with their budget, with 45% who say they agonize over a purchase and 79% who say they don’t like parting with their cash at all. Of the 75% who felt guilty after making a purchase, over half said that the guilt stemmed from spending money that could have been budgeted elsewhere, like saving for a home or paying off student debt.

Backed by research from the Bureau of Labor, statistics also show that young adults are spending less on entertainment and food, and far more on health care and education than the Baby Boomers did at their age. Spending on entertainment is down by 9%, and spending on apparel is down by whopping 39.5% compared to the Boomer generation.

Contrary to the headlines, young adults also don’t make purchases on a whim – they do their homework, read online reviews, listen to word-of-mouth recommendations, and nearly a third like to try a product out in-store before buying it. In other words, Deliberators do a lot of deliberating and consider many factors before handing over their money. So as retailers, offering detailed and transparent information and pricing, along with a strong value proposition about your product or service, will be essential to winning the Deliberators' business.

Reach out to this audience and encourage them to try out and review your products. Take some time to focus on third-party review sites like Trustpilot and Google Reviews. This way, you can create brand ambassadors that can help promote your goods even further. 

Misconception Two: Social media addicts

Deliberators are the vanguard of social media – always on their smartphones, selfie-obsessed, and constantly updating their status on one platform or another. But as concerns over data privacy gain ground, polls suggest that young adults are reducing their consumption of social media. 

Almost half (41%) of young users say they waste too much time on social media, 35% agree that people their age are too engrossed with their online lives, and 34% have deleted their social media accounts altogether.

But don't delete your social media accounts just yet. Our research shows that social media still plays a big part in the Deliberators’ buying journey. According to our study, nearly two-thirds (61%) buy things they see advertised on social media, and over half (51%) of them would like to be able to buy directly from social media platforms.

Of those who are interested in purchasing from social, most (69%) would like to be able to buy directly from Facebook, followed by Instagram (56%), Snapchat (21%), Pinterest (19%) and Twitter (18%).

With that in mind, it still pays to create highly targeted social media and advertising campaigns across all relevant platforms. Be sure to develop a well-thought-out marketing campaign that is based on targeted customer personas to ensure relevance and consistency. 

Misconception three: It's always about faster, cheaper, and more convenient.

In a one-click world, young people have been able to do more with less compared to previous generations. With on-demand everything and fast-fashion by the week, technology and globalization have further enabled an instant gratification existence, with millennials at the center of it all.

But not so fast, while technology has indeed changed the face of retail, young shoppers are also the most conscious and cause-driven consumers than any generation before. Popular brands like TOMS and Warby Parker, with their buy-one-give-one model, have resonated strongly with this group who prefer to buy from brands who are grounded in social responsibility. According to a study by the Center for Giving, 69% of millennials “consider a company’s social and environmental commitment when deciding where to shop” and “66% will recommend products or services if a company is socially responsible.”

If your brand supports a cause, communicating that through some thoughtful cause-marketing can empower young consumers, build greater trust with your brand, and be an effective way to attract social-conscious shoppers.

Fact: Switched-on and tech-savvy

Deliberators are considered digital natives, otherwise known as the ‘always on and connected' generation. In the UK, 95% of those between the ages of 16 and 24 surveyed in 2017 reported owning a smartphone. When it comes to advancements in technology, Deliberators are keen to try new things, which means that they're willing to try new payment methods too. When asked how they would like to make online payments in the future, respondents cited interest in paying with Apple Pay (32%), Google Pay (25%), Face ID (20%), text message (15.6%), chatbots (7.5%), and voice payment (7.5%).

Regarding payment preferences, the majority of this age group (81%) said that they would like to have multiple payment options made available to them. Slow payment services are also a huge turn-off for the Deliberators and over a third (38%) will blame the brand’s website if the payment process is slow. A poor checkout experience will make them look elsewhere and investigate other options.

The bottom line is that if your payment services and technologies aren't up to par, you risk missing huge opportunities with this age group. To attract more customers, adopt the latest developments in payments, eliminate as many friction points in the buying journey as possible, and ensure a smooth payment process.

Deliberating the future

As young adults' spending power increases, this generation of consumers will become even more critical to your business. So the sooner you get to know them – their needs, likes, and wants – the better. 

While they like to use social media in their purchasing journey and make the most of innovative new payment technologies, they’re not going to splash their cash without serious deliberation. When appealing to this group, you need a consistent approach that incorporates targeted social media campaigns, easy access to trusted customer reviews, and convenient payment options that suit their preferences.