Shopping with the ‘Straight Aheads’ – Getting it Right

December 4, 2014
5 min read

These qualities of conservatism and analysis mean that retailers need to work hard to convince Millennials of their wares’ efficacy, provenance and ethics to justify the outlay. We’ve seen some stellar examples of this – from beauty brand Ioma’s Youth Booster dispenser with a diagnostic miniaturisation sensor, to Papabubble’s candy shop where ‘caramel artisans’ create treats before your eyes, to the Food Recovery Network’s certification program for US restaurants that assures customers that unsold surplus goes to hungry mouths as opposed to landfills.

It’s this ethical quality that’s particularly pertinent to Millennials, who have sometimes been accused of outsourcing – and relegating – ethical decisions to the level of politically-motivated purchasing and brand selection. A classic case of how not to do this was served up by the Chairman of pasta brand Barilla, who declared that the brand would never run an advertising campaign featuring a same-sex couple. Enter rival Bertolli, with a reactive “Pasta and Love for All” campaign to win the younger, wider demographic. The cloud of homosexual persecution hanging over the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics put brands in a tight spot: how to capitalise and take a stand at the same time? Cue two ingenious Millennial-friendly moves: American Apparel put its heart on its sleeve with a ‘Principle 6’ line of anti-discriminatory sportswear, whilst Brewdog created a ‘Hello My Name is Vladimir’, openly mocking Russia’s President with tasting notes declaring ‘best enjoyed shirtless on horseback’, a #notforgays hashtag and a contribution for charities supporting persecuted minorities for every sale.

Advertisements also need to follow the line of Getty Images in their drive to depict modern images of women as surgeons, soldiers and skateboarders as well as the sterling efforts of brands as diverse as Barneys and Marriott to push campaigns overtly using LGBT models.

The view that Millennials have been reared on the idea that they are “Special”, may be wide of the mark, but “Individual” is a safe bet, making personalisation something of a right rather than a privilege. We’ve seen brands meet this requirement through everything from Reebok running shoes that can be moulded to the wearer’s foot using a hairdryer, to beauty apps from Sephora that match products to skin tone and smart vending machines from L’Oréal that do the same thing for cosmetics and clothes. In its infancy 3D printing may be stymied by material costs and time constraints, but it’s primed to deliver the ultimate in customisation, from bespoke jewellery to individually textured, flavoured and nutritionally-tweaked foods.

16% of 16-24s have recommended a clothing brand or retailer on social media, compared with 9% on average

The internet never closes and in the Millennial mind set neither should anything else. 24-hour gyms and salons and Yo! Sushi meals delivered by drone all speak to this need and the impending proliferation of Amazon collection lockers at transport hubs will bring a dose of tangible digital immediacy to real world retail. Traditional instant-access formats like vending also have great potential here, especially once we consider that 22% of 16-24s say that they would be more likely to use vending machines if they sold new or more varied food and drink choices, compared with an average of 15% (Source: Mintel Non High Street Foodservice Trends UK 2014). We’ve seen vending reimagined as a high-end, impulsive treat in the form of Moët & Chandon’s mini-bottle machine at Selfridges, and as a patriotic, social promotional tool, courtesy of Molson’s machines stationed in public spaces that giveaway free beer in return for a Canadian passport scan or a passable rendition of the country’s national anthem.

Elsewhere, we’re seeing how self-checkout storefront technology can be brought in to our homes, via Amazon Dash, a wi-fi enabled barcode scanner that adds the retailer’s grocery items to one’s shopping basket, and even how the buying process might be outsourced to smart devices, such as Pernod Ricard’s ‘Liquid Library’ drinks containers that automatically order replacements when they run low.

Social media platforms have garnered a creative streak in Millennials, but they’ve also put them on an equal footing with brands and this means that they want to be partners, not mere customers, listened to and spoken to. Mintel’s Digital Trends research shows that 25-34s are 9 percentage points more likely to have written product/ service reviews than the average consumer, whilst Mintel’s Clothing Retailing UK 2013 Report shows that 16% of 16-24s have recommended a clothing brand or retailer on social media, compared with 9% on average. However, Mintel’s Social Networking UK 201 report reveals that 21% of this group only engage with brands on social networks if they are offering a coupon, competition or other promotion and here’s the rub: brands must court and engage with these consumers, whilst both recognising and rewarding them.

The fashion and beauty sectors offer up some classic case examples, from Top Shop’s ‘Tweet Shop’, allowing customers to post photos of themselves modelling clothes in store in order to win discounts, to Mark Jacobs allowing switched on followers to buy its new collection by tweeting.

Richard Cope
Richard Cope

Richard is a Senior Trends Consultant, bringing the latest consumer trends to Mintel clients through bespoke presentations and represents Mintel at global conferences.

More from Mintel
  • Mintel Store
    Mintel Store
    Get smart fast with our exclusive market research reports, delivering the latest data, innovation, trends and strategic recommendations....
    View reports
  • Mintel Leap
    Mintel Leap is a revolutionary new AI-powered platform that will transform your research process....
    Book a demo
Subscribe to Mintel Spotlight
Related articles
May 10, 2024
As Indian consumers become increasingly health-conscious, the salty snacks market is undergoing a significant transformation. The traditional reliance on palm oil as a key ingredient in snacks is being questioned.
May 6, 2024
Mintel reveals how American consumer trends in food, beauty, personal care, and lifestyle are shaped by a delicate balance between health and indulgence, driven by technological advancements.
April 26, 2024
On April 23, 2024, Chicago-based premium convenience stores Foxtrot Market and Dom’s Kitchen & Market permanently and abruptly closed all 35 locations with news of a Chapter 7 filing for…

Download the Latest Market Intelligence