An 18-year-old shares perspectives on her generation and the retail world with Sleep Savvy
As I prepared for this issue’s cover story on selling to millennials—that huge, diverse generation of 80 million people born at the end of the last century and introducing its own ways of shopping—I sat down with a millennial I know well and who is pretty typical of this demographic to gain perspectives on their buying habits. My conversation with Hannah, a precocious 18-year-old college student and part-time employee at Marshall’s, proved insightful. While I realize her comments are anecdotal and certainly may not be reflective of the entire generation Y crowd, they did provide a glimpse into a generation very different from mine. (I came into this world with Hannah’s parents at the very end of the post-World War II baby boom.)
Here are a few of the observations she shared:
- A frugal spender: Hannah says she is very careful with money. Perhaps it’s because she grew up during the dire days of the Great Recession or maybe it’s a lesson she learned from her parents, but she says, “I’m very smart with my money. I’m not just going to throw it away. I really do try to maximize what I earn and set budgets for myself.” Interestingly, she adds, she doesn’t like to spend money on food, which “is not normal for millennials, who will spend everything on food.”
- An Internet shopper: When she knows what she wants, Hannah prefers to shop online because of convenience and price. “It’s just less time consuming and things are often cheaper online,” she says, adding she would buy large-ticket items like furniture online if shipping is included and she had seen it before. “If I know what I’m buying, I would buy it on the Internet—like if I know the product and brand.”
- A showroomer: A savvy consumer and a digital native like her peers, Hannah says she will compare prices online when she’s in a store. “I especially do that when I’m in Victoria’s Secret because you can get it new on eBay,” she notes.
- Online mattress buyer: When asked if she would buy a bed from an Internet retailer, Hannah said, “I don’t know anything about mattresses, so maybe I would, maybe I wouldn’t.” But after thinking about the mattress-buying process, she said she would be inclined to buy online.
Many of Hannah’s shopping habits echo what Julie A. Palm writes in “Meet the Millennials.” As the story notes, they already are a potent economic force, but by 2020, their spending will account for 30% of total retail sales.
Look out, retailers—more than likely, Hannah and her cohorts will be in your store, visit your website or check out your Instagram account soon.