Home Blog Marketing with Millennials

The NPD Group Blog

Insights and Opinions From Analysts and Experts in More Than 20 Industries

Sneakernomics: Marketing with Millennials, Part 1

Mar 7, 2017
Matt Powell, Vice President, Senior Industry Advisor ;
Sports
@NPDMattPowell

Brands used to market to Boomers; successful brands today market with Millennials.

Millennials, or the generation born between 1981 and 1996, are now a larger group than the Boomers, who were born between 1946 and 1964. They account for one-third of all retail spending, and soon they will represent 50 percent of the workforce. In the sports industry, 90 percent of athletic footwear gains in 2016 were driven by Millennials or the proceeding generation, Gen Z. These two cohorts accounted for 70 percent of sneaker sales in 2016. 

The Millennial generation is much more diverse than previous cohorts, being 38 percent non-white compared to the Boomers, who are 22 percent non-white. In addition, with more than one-third of Millennials having a college degree, this generation is also the most educated in history.

Millennials are constantly interviewing brands, meaning that a brand has to prove itself, every day. For Boomers, there were fewer shopping choices, shopping outlets, and sources of product information. For Millennials, those elements are infinite. On top of that, these elements are always in their pockets, on their mobile devices.

Many Millennials have never known a world without the internet. Because of that, Millennials are more connected to each other than any previous generation. This means they share everything. When they want to know something or get an opinion, they consult their peer group. As a result, Millennials’ groups are much, much larger than those of the boomers. 

Boomer generation marketing was reactive. Brands ran an ad campaign and measured how many consumers responded. Millennials don’t react, but interact. They are part of the branding process, from sharing a great YouTube ad, to advising friends on purchase experiences, to giving positive and negative feedback directly to a brand. Remember, just because it’s easy to hit the “Like” or “Favorite” button, does not mean those recommendations are given out lightly (and a “Like” is just as easily reversed).

Contrary to the shopping experience Boomers are most familiar with, physical stores are no longer the place where consumers learn about products; they are the places to try out products, not research. Millennials go to physical stores to see if products fit or if the color is right. Physical stores must adapt to this fundamental shift.

Malls are no longer where young people hang out; now they hang out on their phones. Next time you are in a mall (and I’ll bet it will be a while), go to the food court. Most of the people there are retirees, nursing a cup of coffee. The top-end malls will survive, but the rest are doomed.

“Omni” or “all” channel is old-school thinking. Millennials don’t care about your businesses logistics or Chinese walls. They want what they want, whenever, wherever, and however they want it. If your brand can’t offer it to them that way, they will move on. Your brand experience must be completely transparent and seamless, with no hidden quirks. There is only one channel: all of it.

The lesson here is, engage rather than market; listen well and respond; and provide value. Find out where your customers are living—digitally—and involve them there. Seek interaction, not reaction. Market with Millennials.


Related Blog Posts


Sneakernomics: Predictions for Sports Retail in 2019
Sneakernomics: Predictions for Sports Retail in 2019

Matt Powell expects a rocky year for the sports industry in 2019, as macro issues will likely weigh heavily on the industry. In these challenging times, what can retailers and brands do to stand out? Powell outlines his expectations and what opportunities should be seized to thrive.

Sneakernomics: What Really Happened with Athletic Footwear and Activewear Sales in 2018
Sneakernomics: What Really Happened with Athletic Footwear and Activewear Sales in 2018

Matt Powell provides the highlights and his analysis on how the brands and categories across the U.S. athletic footwear and activewear markets fared in 2018.

Sneakernomics: Golf and Team Sports Equipment 2018 Recap
Sneakernomics: Golf and Team Sports Equipment 2018 Recap

Matt Powell recaps how sales fared for baseball, golf, soccer, and other sports equipment products in 2018. Baseball/softball equipment sales grew largely as a result of new youth bat safety regulations that required most youth players to replace their bats. Golf was another bright spot for the market. After years of soft sales, the category bounced back. One of the top growth categories in golf were complete golf sets, particularly at opening price-points, suggesting new entrants.

Sneakernomics: Nobody Wins a Race to the Bottom
Sneakernomics: Nobody Wins a Race to the Bottom

According to Matt Powell, Holiday 2017 was the most promotional on record for the U.S. sports industry – that is, until Holiday 2018. Powell says we need to return the industry to one of aspiration and inspiration, or we face the risk of running a race to the bottom; and that’s a race nobody wins. A new year brings new opportunity to change course.

Subscribe to our blog

Newsletter

Subscribe and get key market trends and insights relevant to your industry each month.

We will not sell your information. View privacy notice.

Follow Us

© The NPD Group, Inc.