That just sounds plain exhausting already. The reality for most retailers is that keeping up with those Millennials is not for the faint of heart. Whether they’re a self-proclaimed BBQ Foodie like my oldest, a “where’s the local sustainable section” guy like my middle son or a “Do you have a rewards program” shopper like my daughter, they’re all looking for the same thing. They’re looking for interaction. Why wouldn’t they be? They’re plugged in and engaged at every other juncture of their life from the moment they wake up, so why not in their grocery shopping experience too. It’s definitely not like my day when I’d run up and down each aisle knocking poor box boys out of my way with my “weekly prepared list” in hand of all the dinners, lunches and snacks I needed, (that is if I actually remembered to pick it up off the counter before I left the house that day, it which case I just randomly grabbed food and prayed it went together). Get me in and get me out, that was my motto.
Millennials all want to be involved…engaged, and if you want their loyalty, it’s best to give them what they crave…an experience each and every time they grace your doors. Horrors to me, but these people actually like to grocery shop! And they do it blind, with no lists! And frequently. That means 80 million of them are hitting your sales floors with collectively more money than Baby Boomers and Gen X combined.
Millennials may seem a little ambiguous at times so let me help you begin navigating through this tricky terrain.
Collectively as a group they are extremely less formal than their predecessors. And yes, they are from the instant gratification generation, but they do put a premium on face to face customer service. Not the kind you get from a cashier who routinely asks each non-face “how are you doing today” and never hears your answer. They want an empathetic ear that actually appears to listen and employees that engage them in conversation while they shop. Talking about food is a millennial passion, so don’t miss the opportunity to engage them. No scripted greetings, no stiff replies. They want authentic and genuine conversation from you. Just ask my daughter who must have been vaccinated with a phonograph needle when she was young. (If you know what that is you probably need my help more than you know)
A millennial shopping experience is a lot like a game of spin the bottle. They tend to shop the perimeter store and just pick a meat or a vegetable that looks fresh or new, and just run with it from there. So help them, engage them quickly. Cross merchandise those key locations and guide them to recipes, options and center store products that are new. If not they’ll be on those iphones and androids in a heartbeat looking for something new to make. They fancy themselves food entrepreneurs, so be creative and don’t be afraid to offer unique foods…think of it as a new face of customer service…millennial style.
For most Millennials customer service means more than what they experience through sight and sound in your brick and mortal store. It has to do with your social consciousness as well. Are you? They want to know how you treat your employees because they empathize with them. Are you doing what you can to be green? Are you at least not hurting the environment? They need to know before they can be loyal to you. Brag man, brag. This is not the time to be modest. They’ll find out anyway…so be proud and loud.
I was getting ready to jump off the cliff into my daughter-in-laws favorite topic, local sourcing of produce, meats and other products but that’s a whole conversation in itself….We’ll just save that for later. For now let’s just suffice to say it’s a must to stay relevant.
It’s time to begin thinking out of the box in terms of customer service folks. These Millennials are not a joke, they’re serious shoppers. And last time I checked they were up for grabs…literally. As consumers Millennials don’t trust the big box stores as a whole so here is your chance! Make your mark when it counts. Be smart, creative and bold with how you engage them during each and every shopping trip, make it an experience they’ll remember and enjoy.
Blue Skies Everyone