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An Engaging Experience…but where do you start?

page0084-1Pick up any magazine or read retail reports on the web you will find that many reports state that to attract the consumer of today you need to provide an engaging experience. It clearly is more than price and selling ‘stuff’. We need to rethink through the experience, but where do you start? John Stanley tackles this question.

How do we engage Millennials?

Millennials will be the major spenders by 2017 and many retailers need to move rapidly to ensure we engage them, especially when they often seem to be the ‘hard to reach generation’.

In a recent article in Greenhouse Grower in the USA, Stephanie Whitehouse-Barlow, a Millennial who is also a retailer wrote an article on her perception of what needs to take place in a retail environment. Her main message was that you need to put yourself in the consumer’s shoes and that when it comes to Millennials they have a big fear, the fear of failure.

This is a generation that went through school where they were encouraged to succeed and failure was not an option. They have now entered a world where ‘fear of failure’ is a major driver and they are reluctant to take on a new task or hobby where they feel they may fail.

This creates an opportunity and a challenge for retailers. Those that understand how the millennial consumer is thinking and can help them in a positive way will be the winners.

In developing a strategy to engage the consumer and win them over consider the following aids to engagement:

  1. Start with the end in mind. Show the consumer the finished scenario for them. Then follow that up with a step-by-step approach to achieving that success.
  2. Create a series of YouTube videos on how to succeed. This will enable them to follow a step-by-step approach whilst engaged in the relevant project and to refer back to YouTube as they proceed.
  3. Explain ‘Why’ and give the relevant benefits before you proceed to ‘How’. Make sure the benefits are the relevant benefits to the consumer. Those benefits may change with age groups.
  4. Remove any jargon from the conversation and point of purchase signage. Jargon just puts fear into the consumer’s mind.
  5. Create community style coaching classes rather than classes for the consumer to learn new skills.
  6. Listen to your millennial sales team and take tips from the proactive young sales team members.
  7. Combine Activities with unlikely partners to grow sales… Do not stick to knitting.

Traditionalists will tell you that you should ‘stick to knitting’. In other words, be a specialist and do not venture into areas that are not your ‘core’ business. The challenge in today’s retail world is ‘what is your core business’?

There are fashion stores that now sell plants, as they believe that is the core business in their consumer’s mind.

Companies such as Urban Outfitters, the USA based business, have always believed they should follow their customer’s direction. They attracted Millennials through Urban Outfitters, as the consumer got older they were targeted through the sister business Anthropologie and then as they matured again through Terrain, a garden lifestyle retail outlet.

The company now realises that the Urban Outfitters model is more than about clothing, it is about the experience. The company is now attracting some of the best chefs in the USA to open restaurants in-store. The company message to the consumer is that they are a ‘lifestyle concept’ store that creates an experience retailing beyond shopping. Plus, one other aim is to get consumers to spend in-store rather than online.

The directors of the company believe that when it comes to Millennials food and shopping go together…in the same store. One of the keys to success is the company looks at the local market and develops and models the store based on the local community.

The message is what combination of experiences do you need to put together to engage the consumer.

Now is the time

More and more retailers are developing new strategies to engage the consumer with an experience that ensures the shopper ‘lingers longer’ within the same business, yes, they will also shop online, but the average sale will go up when a consumer is engaged inside a store.


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