There’s been a lot said and written about the shopping habits of millennials – and about what retailers can do to attract younger consumers’ undoubted spending power back into their stores and e-commerce sites. The growth of the ‘buy button’ means that a lot of retail influence for the Instagram and Twitter generation has already moved to social media.
But, as some retailers already know – John Lewis being perhaps the most noted example with its hugely popular Christmas TV ads – one way to reach the hearts and minds (and wallets) of these shoppers is through storytelling. Great online stories are not only memorable and engaging, but they can encourage both immediate purchases via websites and more visits to the high street.
Our recent research among 2,000 UK consumers into brand storytelling bears this out. When asked what type of online content they most wanted to see from retail brands, the most popular response overall, unsurprisingly, was discounts and special offers – 67 percent of UK adults will always love a bargain.
However, nearly half of customers (41 percent) said they want humorous, dramatic or heart-warming stories, making it the second most-popular choice overall. Perhaps most importantly, millennial groups were the most likely to want to see storytelling content (49 percent of both 18-24 and 25-34-year-olds).
In fact, the study found that all consumers, and especially these key younger audiences, want stories more than they want reviews & ratings, hints & tips or news delivered via social media updates.
Some retailers are beginning to grasp just how important storytelling can be, but there’s a lot more that they can do to engage both current and future customers. The John Lewis Christmas ad is one example of brand storytelling in action, but great stories are more than just TV advertising: they can be the basis of an entire content marketing strategy.
One of the key areas retailers need to explore further is ‘advocacy content’ – getting their customers themselves to tell the stories of why and how they shopped at that particular store, why it’s worked so well for them and why they’d buy there again. With so much research showing the growing pressure on the high street, creating truly engaging and emotional stories about other customers could be the best way for retailers to get younger people excited about the idea of physically shopping again.
After all, millennials have been brought up on stories – food, drink and consumer goods brands that have created whole narratives around their products that can be enjoyed and shared online. Retailers need to develop and craft their own stories if they want to remain visible and relevant to those key demographics.
Millennials are also far more willing to create their own content, particularly on video, and retailers need to make the most of that inclination. Getting young shoppers involved in making their own content could be another great way to engage them and better understand their thinking, their approach to purchase and their customer journey.
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