How do you solve a problem like millennials?
The millennial generation is the largest in U.S. history, yet to many employers and retailers the wants and needs of the first generation to come of age in the internet era remain inscrutable.
As millennials approach their peak shopping and working years, authors and researchers have worked to glean as much information as possible about what makes members of the largest shopping demographic in the United States tick.
No matter where you look for insights into the millennial mindset, you’re bound to find variations of the same conclusion: millennials value convenience, flexibility, and value. That’s why it’s no surprise that millennials are crazy for gift cards. Here are 3 ways that your gift card program can win the hearts and minds of young consumers.
1. Phone is Where the Heart Is
It’s not altogether surprising that the first generation to grow up in the age of ubiquitous cell phone use loves their phones. A recent Blackhawk Engagement Solutions Study found that 89% of millennials use cell phones to access the internet, making cell phones a more popular means of web browsing than laptops, tablets, or desktop computers. Over half of millennials say they use their phone to compare prices while shopping in brick and mortar stores, and 25% of millennials say they use their phone to make at least one purchase daily.
That means it’s more important than ever for your gift card program to go digital. Mobile devices are rapidly becoming digital wallets for the millennials wielding them, and making gift cards as easy to use as possible across mobile and digital channels will help you delight millennial shoppers today and prepare your gift card program for long-term success in an increasingly digital future.
2. Social Butterflies
Millennials learn more about new products, sales, and shopping news on social media than through any other channel. 55% of millennials surveyed identified social media as a key driver for learning about products and services, making social media a considerably more efficient way to get in front of millennial shoppers than traditional marketing mediums like television (35%), newspapers (20%), and radio (12%).
Free to use and inexpensive to promote, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter should already be part of your business’s marketing strategy. Experienced social media users know about the 80/20 rule, which recommends dedicating just 20% of your company’s social media posts to sales-oriented calls to action, and the other 80% to interesting, “shareable” content. If you’re looking for an easy way to drum up some interest in your gift card program, consider focusing some of your more promotional posts on gifts cards - after all, the generation that is most interested in social media shopping is the same one that would rather receive a gift card than cash.
3. Loyalty Royalty
Millennials love loyalty programs. Almost 70% of millennials belong to a retail loyalty program, and 70% of those who currently belong to a loyalty program feel positively about the value they receive from it. Starbucks has made the retail world take notice with its app, which allows users to load funds into the app to pay for coffee and rewards spending with special offers and free cups of coffee. Put simply, Starbucks has gamified spending; by buying coffee, users accumulate points, and by accumulating enough points, users can acquire free coffee. By making each purchase a step towards an additional, free reward, a loyalty program has the potential to make the act of spending money feel like a means of earning value down the line.
With well over $1 billion in customer money currently loaded into the Starbucks app, Starbucks seems poised to keep a leg up on the coffee competition, but you don’t need a fancy app to leverage millennials’ fondness for rewards programs. How you use loyalty programs to fuel your gift card program depends upon your business model and the resources available to you, but one thing’s for sure: millennials value companies that reward their spending, and gift cards are an ideal way for a company to scratch that particular itch.
As challenging as marketing to a new generation of consumers can be, the benefits of understanding the needs of millennials can’t be overstated. We hope these tips help you get the most out of your gift card program, and feel free to get in touch if you have any questions!