I know – the title is probably making you scratch your head.  But the truth is millennials are a breed of shopper, unlike anything we’ve seen before - completely different to all of the other major demographics when it comes to shopping and attitude. They also make up the largest buying power by population in New Zealand and many countries in the OECD.

You maybe wondering why Millennial's spending habits and attitude towards brands differ from other generations. Some of the reasons are that millennials grew up in a time of recession and credit instability and a lack of climate change action by governments and businesses. This has trickled down into their mantra of their purchasing behaviour.

They’re buying differently

They shop online for most of their products – even food. With the new trend of ready to make meal kits or online subscription services from make-up to clothes. They shop responsibility too – opting for brands they believe are socially responsible and.  A good example of this is New Zealand’s latest supermarket chain ‘GoodFor’. A package-less food dispensary that donates some profits to tree planting. Big companies are also wising up to the trend, with the likes of Adidas choosing to only make shoes from 100% recycled plastics and materials by 2024 and Unilever - one of the world’s largest FMCG companies promising 100% compostable, or recyclable materials in their products by 2025.

So how can you build your brand with Millennials and new generations in mind?

Be Socially Responsible

To use the words of Simon Sinek “People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it”. This is no truer when talking about Millennials and future generations. Future generations are looking for a cause, one that will shape the future. With plastic waste, climate change hot on the lips of our youth today, ask yourself this; is my product sourced ethically? is there anything I can do to be more sustainable in my business? How am I giving back to the community or being more socially responsible?

If you can find a social purpose or a sustainable message that you believe in, then you’re sure to resonate more with this generation.


With more time spent communicating online than in real life, you need to ensure your business is mobile friendly. How mobile optimised is your business? A recent study shows that 73% of US millennials use their smartphone for shopping over a PC and that barriers to ease of use of websites on mobile devices contribute to lower conversions in all generations. The same study also shows that 48% of this group prefer to use their smartphone for payments in-store too!

The use of smartphones in people’s lives will only increase – with the likes of new generations like Gen Alpha growing up without knowing what a Nokia 3310, a fax machine, CDs are - or how you could possibly get around without Google Maps.

Choice at the checkout

It’s not just Millennials that are looking for choice at the checkout, Generation Z favours spending their own money rather than taking on more debt through credit cards. Almost 20% of Kiwis aged between 18-24 do not own a credit card. In America, this number jumps to over 30%. Looking at different ways to attract these shoppers to your online stores will be critical.  Debit solutions such as Online EFTPOS using your mobile phone number and your banking app are becoming increasingly popular amongst this group. 

Learn from Asos

In 2018, Asos which is an eCommerce retail store who’s target market is mobile-savvy Millennial's and GenZ reported a major decline in profits – 87% in fact! The reason? Marketing changes to their website lead to major falls in visits to its websites and a drop in its search engine rankings. In an ever-increasing Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) battle with other eCommerce retailers, ensuring your website is SEO ready has a huge effect on how buyers will find your site. A lot of the optimisation you can do to your site is free. The faster and more optimised your site is, the more likely it will show up first in organic and paid ads. There are many sources to show you how to optimise your site for SEO yourself, or you can hire one of the many agencies that specialise in SEO optimisation.

Value not price

The fact is price is being less and less relevant when Millennial's and future generations do shop. Retailers need to take more of a holistic approach and start to think about why their customers should buy their product and choose to shop with them.

With the right tools, know-how and practices, appeasing the Millennial's & future generations could be child’s play. Get it wrong and well, we all know what happens then…

((DISCLAIMER: Written by a Millennial))

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