/// Millennials: The Social Shopping Generation
Gone are the days when the extent of “social shopping” was making a quick call to Dad or sending a quick text to a friend for product purchasing advice. Now, with the bevy of informational resources available to consumers at the click of a button, as well as the mass availability and versatility of smartphones and other mobile devices, shopping is becoming more social than ever before. Millennials (one of many generational names given to those individuals born between the years 1981 and 2000) are leading the charge in the social commerce movement for the consumer electronics (CE) retail industry and influencing others along the way.
Wikipedia defines social shopping as “a method of commerce where shoppers’ friends become involved in the shopping experience.” For Millennials, those “friends” extend beyond family members to include social network connections and even complete strangers. Adult and Youth Millennials often learn about new technologies through their friends. Millennials consult their networks for product advice and reviews, and test or “demo” products owned by those in their social network at a much higher frequency than other generations. As shown in Figure 1, this younger generation also utilizes many online resources including social networking sites, blogs and product review sites to gather product and brand opinions from regular individuals like themselves. And with three-fourths (73 percent) of Adult Millennials owning a smartphone and about a third (34 percent) owning a tablet, accessibility to virtually unlimited social shopping is increasing.
Not only do Millennials turn to their networks for purchasing advice, but others turn to them as well, especially for CE advice. About one in four (27 percent) Youth Millennials indicate they have “a lot of influence” on their parents’ CE purchases, and one in five (19 percent) believe they have “a lot of influence” on their friends’ CE purchases. At least a third of Youth Millennials give their parents and friends advice on what CE devicesto purchase and where to purchase it. Extending beyond their friends and family, Millennials expand their reach by also participating in the product ratings process by writing their own reviews on blogs and consumer ratings sites. No matter how Millennials share their CE knowledge, their voice echoes clearly within the retail market.
This generation is looking for social engagement during their shopping experience, whether they know the person they are engaging with or not, they want to know someone else vouches for their CE purchase. This generation has been defined as transparent, collaborative, and connected, and they want their shopping experiences to reflect those descriptions as well. This type of social shopping will drastically change the way retail companies look to sell their brands and products to Millennials as this group continues to age and grow in their social and economic influence.