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Our March webinar, “How to Sell Home and Garden Products to Millennials” and newly-released “Millennials: Selling Home and Garden to Generation Rent” strategy briefing, continue the investigation into what young adults today want from the home and garden industry. While much of the spotlight has shifted to the up-and-coming Generation Z (born 1995 or later), the millennial generation continues to be a lucrative and largely still untapped segment for home and garden. As the last of the millennials officially enter the workforce and step into adulthood, here are four key takeaways that companies looking to attract and retain millennial consumers will need to keep in mind.
Source: Euromonitor International
Millennials are the most educated generation in history, but ironically many millennials are equipped with considerably less household knowledge and skills than previous generations. Fortunately, with the internet at their fingertips, the solution is but a quick web search away. Many home and garden retailers and manufacturers are finding a myriad of opportunities online to connect with millennials and teach a modern generation about their industries. Scotts, the largest gardening player in North America, offers basic gardening classes and its Gro app helps consumers to closely monitor garden conditions. Home Depot regularly puts out tutorial videos to teach people how to complete basic home improvement or DIY.
The difficulty in engaging millennials stems from the fact that with so many cordcutting and on-demand entertainment options available now, the bar for engagement has also risen dramatically. To stand out among the noise, any content or advertising by retailers and manufacturers will have to be more creative, engaging, and direct than ever.
The home and garden industry has also struggled more than other industries to adapt to rapid digital transformations in retailing and product development, with many home and garden brands working really hard to not be seen as old-fashioned by millennials. However, even though millennials often dictate the trends in other “fashionable” industries such as apparel, beauty or electronics, it is often not the case in home and garden given their lack of knowledge. Instead, an important in-road to connecting with millennials is through their parents, the Baby Boomers.
Without being crippled by student debt or low incomes, most of the Baby Boomer generation are now long-established home owners not expected to drive sales or new growth. But for millennials, who reject traditional advertising and media, they seek advice about home-related products from their parents and grandparents who possess a wealth of knowledge. It is important for home and garden players to keep in mind that maintaining Baby Boomer’s brand loyalties are just as important as winning over millennials.
All categories in home and garden have seen massive growth in online retailing, but the offline store experience remains the most important channel for home and garden. Retailers and manufacturers can no longer choose to focus on either online or offline stores. Omnichannel retailing continues to be a key strategy for engaging millennials, who are known to shop across multiple devices across multiple platforms.
Currently, the online shopping experience for many brands still leaves much room for improvement. While showcasing a full catalogue online is useful, we have come a long way from a time when the ideal online shopping experience was the endless aisle. One of the biggest obstacles to online growth is that on the internet, and especially on a mobile device, many products look exactly the same. Hence, retailers and furniture brands are also increasingly trying to blend physical and online together by offering augmented reality, enhanced “all-digital” shopping experiences, which allow customers to picture items in their homes. Additionally, the impatience of millennials shopping online calls for personalised solutions selling. Focusing on the customer’s end-goals with questions such as “What are you cooking today?” and “What task are you trying to accomplish?”, and recommending specific products or group of products based on that, can reduce shopper frustration.
Many of the fastest-growing brands disrupting the industry are also the ones defying long held industry norms and conventional retailing. Often, they demonstrate authenticity, transparency and ethics in retail, ingredients, manufacturing process, and pricing. Prime examples include online mattress start-ups like Casper, Leesa, and Purple; as well as The Shade Store, a US company that sells window shades, blinds, and curtains direct to consumer. It took on an industry that has traditionally not been very transparent nor present online, and which millennials do not understand very much of, and made the entire customer purchase journey easy, accessible, and cost-transparent.
Millennials are also known to be sleuthy shoppers who research extensively, particularly before big-ticket purchases, as they have limited funds. This makes visibility and availability of brand information and feedback online extremely important. Millennials respond well to community and transparency, having greater trust in reviews and authentic tests by real customers then marketing spiels, and favour companies that are honest and invested in making customers happy.