Millennials are digital and social, and when they shop it has nothing to do with a funnel. It's more like a funnel cake: vaguely circular and frosted with copious amounts of sharing: advice, reviews, crowdsourced comments, and word of mouth -- with lots of it conducted on mobile devices.
A new study by Mom Central's Consumer Insights Groups, which polled 1,100 women born between 1979 and 1993, finds that Millennial women take and give advice, including to parents, particularly with new technology.
Only 5% of respondents to the online poll said they pitch themselves as experts on social media, but over half say they are early adopters and independent thinkers who are quick to try things. The study found that 59% make product recommendations to others when their experiences were highly positive or negative. In terms of helping people choose between products, 40% said they make recommendations.
And although much has been made of how Millennials have moved away from Facebook, 92% of the women polled said they have a Facebook account, and 42% log in or visit their page more than once per day. Fifty-five percent are on Twitter and Pinterest. And 59% said they do not have an Instagram account, and about three-quarters said they have no Tumblr account -- at least not yet.
Style, fashion and food are the most popular areas for Millennial women looking for new trends, and half of the women polled said they use social to get cues. When it comes to purchase, 71% said they are more likely to spend time browsing for products online than in-store, but of those, most end up doing the actual buying in the physical world. Of those who do buy online, 61% said they use tablets, and 52% smartphones. Sixty-nine percent said they buy from online big-box stores like Target.com and 34% from brand sites at least once a month, and only 20% buy from online discount boutiques like Gilt.
Millennial women don’t like to be stalked by brands. They would prefer it if brands allowed themselves to be discovered, and most said they follow brands on social media. Again, Facebook is the key platform, with 76% of respondents saying they use the social media channel to follow brands, while only 11% said they do so on Twitter; fewer than 10% on Pinterest or Instagram; and fewer than 1% on Google.
But consumers aren't following brands for the kinds of amorphous reasons that marketers tend to favor -- brand purpose, value, equity, personality, etc. -- it's about the deal. Well over half said they follow brands on social to learn about deals. And 20% follow brands on social because their friends follow those brands.
Most also said they trust product brand Web sites. But even more, 87%, said they trust the products only after doing their own research involving crowdsourcing with peers; 93% said they purchased a product after hearing about it from a family member or friend. For technology, it's about friends, not so much spouses or parents. But most do seek their parents' guidance for large purchases like cars and houses; almost half said they often go shopping with parents.