Lori Bongiorno

by Lori Bongiorno

Principal, Director - Commercial Studio

Retail Design and Millennial Consumers

  • JUNE 17, 2015
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Millenial Consumers: Where Are They Buying?From the ICSC to Forbes to Goldman Sachs, we’re all very curious about the rising generation of Millennials. What, why and how are they buying? And how does this influence the retail environment? Being the largest generation since the baby boomers at 75 million strong and having a buying power of $200 billion annually, the oldest Millennials are reaching upper levels in the business world and starting families making their buying potential skyrocket. To speak to these Millennial consumers, we've learned that traditional marketing/advertising doesn't work. We need to speak to them on a more intimate level to create that brand loyalty -- which translates to not only what they buy, but where they buy it.

The "Town Center" model of retail has evolved to become the norm. It's more than a mall, it's a community hub where you can take your kids, clients, significant other, and parents. While this community atmosphere gets the consumers to the space, it doesn't necessarily get them to buy. Sifting through vast amounts of research (some interesting reads listed below), I've come to the conclusion that Millennial consumers, while driven by technology and price, still want the traditional shopping experience. Sure, they'll compare prices and look online, but when they’ve decided what they want, they'll still visit the brick-and-mortar stores.

In fact, ICSC reports that 37 percent of Millennials prefer mall shopping while only 27 percent would rather shop online. While ecommerce is becoming more prevalent, brick-and-mortar is still on the map. Leveraging the store's interior design in unique ways can help foster brand loyalty among consumers. For example, H&M knew their consumers were browsing more than buying in the physical stores. So, they created a runway in the store, so that shoppers could flaunt their new outfit. They also filmed the shoppers and used the best videos on the storefront screens. Talk about a unique experience!

Also, creating an infrastructure that supports omni-channel buying habits will help drive traffic. Big box retailers are experimenting with consolidating the physical and the digital. Darrell Rigby, from Harvard Business Review, says it best:

"Websites and mobile apps are not just e-commerce ordering vehicles, they are front doors to the stores. Stores are not just showrooms, they are digitally-enabled inspiration sites, testing labs, purchase points, instantaneous pickup places, help desks, shipping centers, and return locations."

The Greene Town Center The Greene Town Center, Beavercreek, Ohio

In the retail environment, we've found that creating an environment that serves multiple purposes creates that enhanced experience the tech savvy, fast paced Millennial consumers are craving. Items such as walkability, hospitality areas, anchoring green spaces, integrated community events, and work spaces allow this generation of consumers the ability to use the retail environment for a variety of purposes. They can consolidate many areas of their busy lives and support their active lifestyle in one trip. And don't worry about your smart phone dying, there will be a charging station nearby.

Interested in more about this topic? Here's a few resources to check out:

ISCS Recon: Millennial Shopping Habits and What They Mean For Retail Building Owners
Forbes: 10 New Findings About The Millennial Consumer
Elite Daily: Millennial Consumer Study 2015
Forbes: Target, Tools And Tequila: Data Shows What Millennials Are Really Buying
Goldman Sachs: Data Story Millennials (Infographic)

Lori Bongiorno

by Lori Bongiorno

Principal, Director - Commercial Studio

Lori’s mixed use career at M+A started in 1997 with Easton Town Center and has grown expansively ever since. Creating dynamic, sustainable, active neighborhoods is what Lori does best. But, when she's not working on projects, she loves cooking and hanging out with her daughters.