Why Millennials Think Brands Should Have Physical Stores

The digitally native generation is mixing online and offline shopping in surprising new ways.

Approximately 82 percent of Millennials believe its important for a brand to have physical stores — compared to only 69 percent of Gen-X and 65 percent of Baby Boomers, according to a report from eMarketer.

At first glance, it’s surprising that the digital native generation (67 percent of Millennials say that they prefer to shop digitally) values brick-and-mortar more than any other demographic. But there isn’t a disconnect: Millennials simply want the option to shop both online and offline — and they even want to shop on their mobile devices while they’re in their favorite stores.

“Millennials want to be a part of the brand experience,” Alison DaSilva, EVP at Cone Communications, a firm specializing in cause marketing and sustainability, told eMarketer. “They want to see and touch the impact they have, and [that extends] to the companies they [patronize]. This is different than Gen X, which is a little more transactional.”

The fact that these shoppers make their smartphones so much a part of the in-store shopping experience is what retailers must bear in mind. This is part of the reason that stores functioning as digitally-equipped showrooms, like Blue Nile, have seen success with this demographic; shoppers can look at and experience the retailer’s wares in person, but they can still place their order in the way they’re most accustomed to: on mobile.

This also allows the brand to spend more money on in-store connectivity and out-of-the-box experiences rather than massive square footage. And while approaching retail in this way may not be immediately possible for more traditional companies, even equipping sales associates with iPads — or installing interactive “smart” mirrors or displays — can make a difference.

Other key omnichannel takeaways from the report, below:

  • 63 percent of Millennials are likely to use buy online, pick up in-store methods — the highest of any demographic, indicating their omnichannel shopping habits
  • Reviews matter: 78 percent of Millennials say their digital and physical purchases are influenced by review sites. The next most popular option (friends and family) influenced a reported 50 percent.
  • Despite a strong presence on social platforms, millennials still respond well to email marketing, the report states. Over half list email as the primary influence to make a purchase from a retailer website.
About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.