Heading into 2017, Millennials are the golden ticket shoppers many furniture businesses want to reach. These consumers, born between around 1980 and 2000, now in their 20s and 30s, are spending billions on home furnishings as they settle down, start families and buy homes.
We know they are digitally savvy, but what else do we know about their shopping habits? And how can furniture manufacturers and retailers best reach them?
“It’s all about finding out where Millennials are in their lives and meeting them there,” Bo Coconis, Coconis Furniture buyer and merchandiser (and Millennial), told RetailerNOW for the story “What Makes Millennials Tick?”
Here are three strategies to help you meet Millennials where they are — and hopefully start a relationship to last a lifetime.
#1: Omnichannel Convenience and Transparency
This generation has a smartphone penetration rate of over 90 percent, more than any other generation, according to comScore. However, they also love to shop in stores. An Accenture study found 82 percent prefer to shop in stores, and ultimately want an integrated, seamless experience
Quick Fact: Seven of 10 Millennials browse in stores when researching outdoor furniture. Source: Casual Living 2016 Millennial Outdoor Survey.
“Millennials are looking for a smooth transition from a website to a smartphone to your brick-and-mortar store without any hiccups or surprises,” said the RetailerNOW article.
To offer true omnichannel commerce, home furnishings businesses need to offer a seamless experience across different digital devices and between the digital and physical worlds. Responsive website design ensures that your content can be optimally browsed (and bought) regardless of the shopper’s screen size and device type (laptop, tablet or smartphone).
Millennials also expect real-time access to information about inventory availability and clear pricing. To give them this visibility, it’s important to have integration between your e-commerce storefront and your back-end retail management system. Having an online connection to bridge the gap between retailers and manufacturers, such as through an extranet portal, also can help provide further visibility into the supply chain and help all parties get the right information to Millennials as quickly as possible.
#2: Integrated Social Media and User Reviews
Millennials value authenticity in your company’s message, and they love humor (furniture memes, anyone?) and a sense of community. Social media can be one of the best ways to share your story with these consumers and to invite them to share with you. Tell the story behind your latest products, people and design trends. Take a leaf from MicroD’s book with this whitepaper. For example, social media provides a great forum for opening up about sustainable sourcing practices and use of organic materials, to show environmentally conscious Millennials their values are your values, too. In its recent blog post, “How Millennials Are Influencing Furniture Trends,” contemporary furniture manufacturer BDI highlighted this and other keys to connecting with this important consumer market. BDI is working creatively to integrate technology into its furniture designs — and to make its products so attractive they are “Instagram-ready” when Millennials have them in place in their homes.
Quick Fact: Humor is the No. 1 way capture a Millennial’s attention. Source: Edelman Insights.
The company cited data from a 2016 Big Commerce survey, which found that 78 percent of Millennials are “very influenced” by product reviews in their purchasing. Other studies by Bazaarvoice and Kelton Research have shown that 84 percent of Millennials say consumer-written content and social opinions influence what they buy, and over half trust opinions of strangers over those of friends and family.
Want more insight on Product Reviews?
Ask your website solutions provider about integrating social media and user review content into your company’s online experience. For example, you can embed reviews within your site and make it simple to like, share and purchase products through social channels. Millennials will thank you.
#3: Interactive Engagement
Finally, to reach Millennials, make shopping fun, interactive and responsive. Edelman Insights research found 40 percent of Millennials want to co-create products with brands. The same study found 33 percent want answers to questions and comments in real time.
Companies like Coconis Furniture and other home furnishings retailers interviewed by RetailerNOW described how they are doubling down on digital advertising and marketing and ramping up staffing to handle live chats and manage social media comments. From a technology perspective, an integrated online merchandising solution can give internal teams the information they need to quickly answer shoppers’ questions and offer stellar customer service.
Quick Fact: Eight in 10 Millennials want brands to entertain them. Source: Edelman Insights.
For an interactive experience, there also are easy-to-implement solutions for product visualization and customization. Furniture manufacturers and retailers can entice Millennials to simulate wall, flooring and trim colors, and to virtually drape an endless sea of fabrics onto their favorite sofas, chairs, loveseats and more. Room planning tools allow shoppers to build a room plan, ensure furniture will fit and view coordinating items together. Such “design-your-own” features can appeal to Millennials’ desire to put their own individualized stamp on the world.
As BDI said on its blog, “Self-expression is also important to Millennials. Many of them have been cultivating their personal brands for years, and when decorating their homes they’re looking for pieces that complement their unique tastes rather than dictate the vibe.”
Ready to tailor your omnichannel strategy to Millennial buying habits? Contact MicroD to take the next step.