Charity strong factor in millennial holiday buying decisions

Millennials spend money

Millennials are willing to spend for the right cause (via flickr user Mike Vidikan).

Millennials (Gen Y, currently ages 18-34) receive a lot of grief for their attachment to cell phones, but they seem to be among the most generous when it comes to purchasing behavior. A recent Deloitte survey shows 63 percent of millennials donate to charity. As it turns out, altruism also plays a key role in their shopping decisions.

Brand Preferences

Early returns on holiday shopping show a slight decline in Black Friday weekend sales relative to last year. However, millennials are definitely doing their part. What’s fascinating is that millennials seem as in to events like “Small Business Saturday” as they are Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Retail Next reports that altruism, community support and a great experience are core factors in millennial shopping choices.

Implications for Retailers

Gen Y buyers tend to spend their money at local companies that donate to charity and support the communities in which they operate. However, large chains that also support local infrastructures capture their share of millennial dollars. This generation grew up in what is commonly referred to as the “share economy,” meaning they are used to sharing their lives, ideas and images through digital technology. In the same way, they seem to get the notion of sharing resources and giving back to communities.

The reports on Gen Y buying is good news for small retailers that appeal to this age group and give to communities. It is also a clear signal to larger chains that operating with the “little people” in mind can go along way in appealing to this crowd and getting a piece of the pie.

Conclusions

While millennials are somewhat price-conscious, they are willing to spend money on companies and goods that meet their “bigger picture” ideals. This point means that retailers targeting a younger population are often better-served to communicate their social and environmental responsibilities throughout the year than to offer a few bucks in savings for the holiday shopping season. Of course, appealing to such a tech-savvy audience also means employing effective digital marketing strategies in many cases.

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Neil Kokemuller

Neil Kokemuller has been a Professor of Marketing at Des Moines Area Community College since 2004. Prior to teaching, he worked as a marketing specialist and retail manager. He holds an MBA from Iowa State University

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