Now the largest population group in America, the millennial generation drives much of our economy. This first generation of digital natives looks for ways to share their lives online and look to user reviews before they spend their money. They are also socially conscious, taking into account the neighborly role a business plays in the world. Finally, millennials are now the largest generation of pet owners. Their expectations and buying habits are the reason why the idea of experiential marketing has taken off, focusing on the vibe, values or activities offered by a brand rather than its products. Local brick and mortar stores are well-placed to serve this generation economic powerhouse, by providing opportunities to help them develop their own version of brand loyalty.
Creating a space that welcomes pooch visits and offers plenty of opportunities for socialization and mutual pet admiration is key to attracting and maintaining millennial loyalty. Play areas, dog washing stations, training events and even a wall of fame where pictures of pooch customers are posted can encourage customers to visit by creating an enjoyable experience. Train employees to remember customers and their dogs, and to take pictures of these visitors to post on social media (with their permission of course). Become a place your millennial customers want to spend time with their dog on a regular basis.
Be a Resource
Millennials are discerning when it comes to what they buy for their pets, so offering personalized, knowledgeable advice on the best product for their situation is a good way to keep them engaged in your brand. Well-trained employees are a key to the success behind this tactic, so take advantage of any training offered by your suppliers – and ask for it if they don’t! Beyond the in-store experience, you can start a blog that offers quality information about pet health and safety, training or products. The goal behind your message is to show your expertise and commitment to the welfare of pets, not to sell more products (that will be a natural outcome of a positive relationship with your customers).
Use Social Media Everyday
As mentioned before, millennials are digitally-based. They are heavy users of social media and authentic content from brands leads them to become loyal customers. Buy a smartphone for your business and link your social media accounts to it. Encourage your employees to snap pictures of everyday life in the store, from stocking the shelves with a new or popular product, to pooch visitors and their experiences in your space. Social media is a great way to engage your customers in your brand’s personality and to keep your message top-of-mind.
Encourage Customer Reviews
Millennials trust user-generated content over brand content when making purchasing decisions. Encouraging your customers to review online not only your store, but also their favorite products in your store can help attract new people to your location. You can even go old school and leave comment cards out for customers to leave feedback about an item they love and hang those cards near the product. Take pictures of your customers and their pets with their phones and ask them to post it and tag you on social media. That record of their experience in your space is a tacit review of the value of your brand!
Understanding this new generation of customers, their values and what makes them buy, will help you grow your business. Yes, they purchase pet products online, but they also look for enjoyable experiences to have with their dog. Provide those opportunities and they will become loyal and powerful brand advocates.
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