...And Retail Will Never Be the Same


Author: Anna Jones

Inflation is back in 2018, yet investors are still putting their money into retail – in particular, into big box stores like Target and Ulta. While those two corporations are millennial go-to's, those born in the late-80s-and-early-90s seemingly favor independent labels, small businesses, personalized, and charitable organizations, to name but a few checkboxes this generation seems to tick off when purchasing items.

Why do millennials seem less obsessed with status and more obsessed with sustainability? Your rebuttal may be, “Who cares?” but if you are involved in the retail industry in any capacity, you should care – millennials and Gen Z are pushing baby boomers out to become the largest consumer group. And these young adults care about giving their money to progressive – or what they view as progressive – companies. Ecommerce companies are popular amongst this crowd, as are sustainable brands with ethical practices. Millennials feel like they can ethically consume these brands and therefore, spend their money online and at their brick-and-mortar stores without guilt or fear that their dollars are going to sweatshops or to companies that pay their workers unfair wages and allow them to work in dismal conditions.

The aforementioned types of brands base their success on affordability, transparency on business ethics, and accessibility. Ecommerce brands that are geared towards millennials generally have an overwhelming amount of choices, have the convenience of being able to order online (either via mobile or desktop), and have price points that work for millennials who may work multiple jobs, yet have a large amount of student loans to pay off! This makes it all-the-more-desirable for millennials to spend their hard-earned money with these retailers.

Warby Parker is a wonderful example of a beloved company within our 18 – 34 demographic that practices all of the above in terms of being a cool company that is open about their social ethics. The company is vetted by labor watchdog Verité, and partners with nonprofits to distribute their eyewear to those in need, and allows consumers the convenience of being able to try on five pairs of eyeglasses at home for up to five days – it’s a model of business that, quite frankly, simply hasn’t been done before in this industry.

In addition to price point, social responsibility, a plethora of options, and convenience, these brands are well-versed in how to market themselves to this demographic. Their teams are on top of current events and trends, and know how to market them on social media and in print and digital advertising. Companies would be wise to take a page from their branding playbooks for their future marketing and recruiting efforts.



Photo: Interview Magazine