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Marketing to millennials means knowing what makes them tick

January 16/23, 2017: Volume 31, Number 16

By Lindsay Baillie

Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 12.05.58 PMMillennials are often described as radically different from their baby boomer and Generation X predecessors. This new group of customers has forced retailers to spice up promotions, websites and showrooms—all in hopes of catching the millennial’s eye. Several retailers shared their thoughts on how and when to attract millennials.

Craig Phillips, Barrington Carpet & Flooring Design, Akron, Ohio
“Our retail business is heavily dependent on the business we derive from baby boomers, and I really do not see that changing dramatically in the near future. That being said, the buying power the millennials have is not to be ignored. [They] shop for products so differently than baby boomers, and over time they, too, will influence how everyone shops for our products.”

Barrington Carpet & Flooring Design does little traditional advertising but it does spend money promoting via social media channels. “We try to have a fresh, easy-to-maneuver website tied to our social media presence,” Phillips said. “In addition to Facebook and Google Plus, we have recently added Houzz to our marketing efforts. We are keenly aware of how millennials shop, and we are slowly trying to be more visible and viable to this emerging market source. Our new home construction business is, at this point, still dominated by baby boomer customers. We will continue our efforts to attract new millennial business while still concentrating our efforts on baby boomers.”

Meaghan Karn, Avalon Flooring, Cherry Hill, N.J.
“Primarily we are expanding our reach to make sure we use marketing efforts that include millennial customers. Digital is the now and the future, so we are making sure our online presence is impactful and cohesive to what customers can expect in our showrooms. The biggest difference we notice is millennial consumers tend to be more price conscious. They also want to be a bigger part of the ‘process’ whether it’s through making selections based on their education of the products we offer, through installation how–tos or even the design. They know what they want, and we are here to help them realize their dream project.”

Kevin Rose, Carpetland USA, Rockford, Ill.
“Statistically speaking there are approximately 80 million baby boomers, 51 million Gen X and 75 million millennials. Millennials are a digital-focused age group, which means we have to reach them via Google ad key words, website, various forms of social media, etc. We utilize these methods along with all the traditional media such as print, TV, etc., that we have utilized for years to attract the baby boomers and Gen X. All of these generations are equally as important as the next.”

In an attempt to better understand millenials, Rose looks to market research. Specifically, he points to various studies related to disposable income and how each generation differs. “It would seem the millennials are more focused on savings and utilize credit cards more than the other two,” he said. “However, they all have to be considered in every aspect of advertising, or you will fall behind and not progress forward with increases in your annual revenues.”

Eric Langan, Carpetland USA, Davenport, Iowa
“Over the past few years we have really increased our investment and presence in digital marketing in attempt to attract more millennials. We have redesigned our website, are much more involved in social media and have added dollars to our digital marketing campaign.”

Langan believes millennials go about shopping and getting their overall information differently than that of baby boomers. “Millennials are very comfortable with technology and use it a lot more than their older counterparts. Traditional media still play a role with millennials, although not as much as it used to be with baby boomers.”

Marketing to millennials, according to Langan, has created a fun and unique challenge for Carpetland. “It’s paramount we figure it out. Millennials will, if they haven’t already, outnumber baby boomers.”

Adam Pace , Metro Floors, Lancaster, Calif.
“[Compared with previous generations] millennials are generally much more educated on the flooring products. Oftentimes they already know exactly what they want before they even step foot into the store.”

To attract this group, Metro Floors runs digital campaigns on Facebook via Promoboxx. The company also advertises with Yelp, Houzz and mobile digital ads that are geo-targeted.

Pace is keeping his eye on this potentially lucrative demographic. “Thankfully I am not in a big city so millennials are starting to purchase homes in my area…This creates a large opportunity for us so we need to make sure we capture their business.”

Mark Compston, Mark’s Flooring Center, Minneola, Fla.
Mark’s Flooring Center is doing more Internet advertising these days, focusing on to the types of websites and social media programs millenials frequently use. “We’re also offering a lot more shop-at-home options. Millennials want someone who can come to their house and bring [the product] to them,” Compston said.

He doesn’t believe millenials represent a huge portion of the flooring business yet, but he predicts that might change down the road.

“The majority of flooring is sold to people ages 35-75; millennials are buying homes at a much older age,” he explained. “I think it’ll be a few years before we see them take over the industry.”