Featured image: John Hafner
Millennials and members of Gen Z don’t shop the way Baby Boomers and Gen Xers do. They don’t have to — the internet gives them lots of options that their parents and grandparents didn’t always have.
That means if you want to bring younger shoppers through your doors, you’re going to have to appeal to what they want. And what they want is a relationship with your brand.
In many ways, this isn’t all that different from what you did with your Baby Boomer customers. You probably have a relationship with your best customers — you know their names, you celebrate their successes and you try to solve their problems. That’s what today’s younger consumers want. Only they prefer to build that relationship through social media first, and in-store second.
Strike up a conversation
How do you go about building a relationship with potential customers through social media? It all starts with engagement. Just as you would start a relationship with an in-store customer by talking to them, you start an online relationship with a conversation.
When businesses start using social media, many forget the conversation part of the equation. They might make full use of social media to share information — “We’re closing early today,” “Check out our sale on broadheads,” etc. — but they don’t create posts that spark engagement. Sure, if you throw up a post about a sale, some of your customers are going to click “like,” and some may ask for additional information. But that’s not the kind of engagement you’re after.
As Retail Dive reports, younger consumers are more likely to buy from brands they trust and engage with. Successful brands are finding ways to talk to their customers in a style that builds that trust and engagement.
See what they think
Talk to consumers on social media as if they were your friends, asking questions and requesting input. What products do your customers want to see in your shop? What camo pattern is hot in your area? Are there topics your customers would like to see covered in seminars?
Remember that if you ask for input, you need to follow through on responding to it. If your customers want to see specific products in your shop, do your best to stock them. And make sure you continue the conversation by responding to comments on social media. Just as you’re getting to know your customers, they’re getting to know you through your responses.
Doing well by doing good
Younger consumers want a brand that’s willing to stand up for what they believe in. And that sometimes means doing things that aren’t necessarily in your shop’s best interest just because it’s the right thing to do. Retail Dive spoke with Jim McIngvale of Gallery Furniture. During Hurricane Harvey, a number of Gallery Furniture stores in Texas opened their doors to people who needed shelter from the storm. Although the company lost some money in the process, the positive response after the storm made up for it.
But that wasn’t the point, McIngvale said. “We can always make the money back, but you can’t save peoples’ lives but once,” he told Retail Dive.
Don’t be afraid to stand up for a cause, but make sure it’s something you truly believe in. If there’s one thing people are exceptionally good at sussing out, it’s insincerity when it comes to brands supporting a favorite cause. Look for opportunities to make a difference in your community, and you’ll get the double benefit of doing the right thing and improving the perception of your brand among consumers.