Tuesday, November 21, 2017 | Today's Vending Industry News
The Generation Of Greatest Expectations; What Millennials Want

Posted On: 8/24/2017

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Millennials like to shop in traditional retail stores. Surprise! The largest demographic in history, the one that seems so attached to the online world, actually likes the retail experience. Who knew? According to a new report by Couponfollow.com, a majority of millennials makes the majority of their purchases offline.

Called the "Millennial Shopping Report," the study shows that 53% of millennials -- those born between the mid-1990s to early 2000s -- do a majority of their shopping in stores. Even more surprising, younger members of the key millennial demographic, ages 20 to 23, seem particularly fond of the retail experience, with 58% of them making the majority of their purchases the old-fashioned way.

Although it does not directly address family entertainment centers or coin-op street locations, the report does offer some good news. For one thing, it should comfort those FEC owners with locations near major shopping hubs. It hints that millennials will remain out and about and spending at least into the near-term future; so maybe those reports of the death of the brick-and-mortar locations have been slightly exaggerated.

The potentially bad news is that millennials are careful consumers of everything from clothing to entertainment. As Couponfollow.com's and other reports show, coin-op's key demographic does its research before it buys or visits a location. And, as other marketers have noted, millennials seem to have long memories. A single unpleasant experience can very likely lose a customer forever. If the experience was unpleasant enough, a business can lose customers through unflattering reviews on social media.

Millennials have come of age in a different consumer environment than their predecessors. Not only are they accustomed to their considerable purchasing power, but pricing is variable in many segments of their lives. They bid for products on eBay, haggle over price on Craigslist, compare pricing in stores to find the best bargain and shop online by visiting multiple websites; pricing for them is very much a flexible thing. While many may interpret this as thrifty, it can also be seen as value shopping. Millennials are more than willing to spend freely, if the product offers a high value (or high perceived value).

What this means -- and what few are willing to say out loud -- is that millennials just might be the generation with the highest expectations when it comes to spending. They do not like to be disappointed. And they very much prefer the experience to be better than anticipated. They are the generation of Greatest Expectations.

I was reminded of this recently when passing by a fancy boutique of the type that manages to successfully sell $200 t-shirts. It was a particularly hot day and I noticed that every customer that entered was offered a bottle of water to sip as they browsed. I thought it a brilliant strategy. It kept potential customers in the store for a relatively low cost while generating instant good will, along with rehydration. To my eye it seemed a perfect example of surpassing a consumer's expectations.

I suspect this is the new normal when it comes to marketing to millennials. It is no longer enough to offer a product or experience "as advertised." The product must be "better than promised." This may be true for the street and FEC operator. The challenge the industry now faces is to find creative and cost-effective ways to meet the demands of this new market.