Millennials Expected To Drive Up Holiday Spending, And Retailers’ Inclusion Policies Factor Into Their Shopping Decisions

This holiday season, shifting shopping demographics and motivations are opening opportunities for businesses to connect with customers in new and meaningful ways. Drawing from the results of its 12th Annual Holiday Shopping Survey, Accenture reports that during the holidays, Millennials are expected to lead an uptick in spending, and retailers’ inclusion and diversity practices will play an important role in their purchasing decisions.

Survey results reveal that Americans will spend $658 on holiday shopping this year, on average, compared with $632 in the 2017 survey—almost nine in 10 respondents said they plan to spend as much (53 percent) or more than (36 percent) than they did last year. Older Millennials will spend $779, on average, and 49 percent of younger Millennials—compared to 13 percent of Baby Boomers—plan to spend more this holiday season.

Accenture’s research found that retailers’ inclusion and diversity policies regarding age, gender, ethnicity and disability, are factoring into Millennial shoppers’ decisions. According to the survey, 54 percent of younger Millennials surveyed believe that retailers have a responsibility and duty toward addressing wider social and political issues with regards to diversity, and that 51 percent of younger Millennials are more likely to shop at a retailer that demonstrates awareness of such issues. The survey also shows that Millennials are more likely to choose one brand over another if that brand demonstrates inclusion and diversity in terms of its promotions and offers (cited by 70 percent of younger Millennial respondents and 69 percent of older Millennials); their in-store experience (66 percent of younger and 72 percent of older Millennials), their product range (68 percent of younger and 70 percent of older Millennials), and their environmental awareness (61 percent of younger and 57 percent of older Millennials). Also, 31 percent of younger Millennials see diversity in the workplace, with regards to staffing, as an important attribute when it comes to deciding where to shop.

“Our research suggests that the Millennial generation has high expectations when it comes to retailers’ commitment to inclusion and diversity, and those values are influencing their decision-making in choosing one brand over another,” says Jill Standish, senior managing director and head of Accenture’s Retail practice. “National and multinational retailers serve diverse customer bases, so they need to position the brand accordingly—its messaging as well as its product selection. That will require not just more local decision-making, but also assistance from analytics tools that enable retailers to build a granular picture of their customers.”

Accenture reports that consumers appear less concerned with the economy and their overall financial situation than they were last year—with one-third less likely (15 percent, versus 23 percent last year) to cite “a concern about the economy” as a factor negatively affecting their holiday shopping this year. They were also less likely to cite “healthcare costs,” “mortgage payments,” “the prospect of higher taxes,” and “a recent job loss or the fear of losing their job.” Accenture suggests that this could be one reason why fewer shoppers plan to take advantage of retailers’ cost-savings programs or benefits— such as loyalty programs, on-the-spot competitor price-matching, special e-mail offers, Amazon Prime Day and deal sites such as Groupon or Living Social.

Also on the rise in this year’s survey are service and/or “experience” gift-buying. The research identified a growing trend away from product gifts such as toys, clothes and household appliances and toward “experience” gifts such as travel, dining out, concerts and the theatre, as well as toward “services” gifts such as lawncare, home cleaning and spa treatments. In fact, the number of shoppers who said they plan to buy physical products as gifts this year dropped 11 percentage points from last year, to 73 percent, and the number who said they planned to buy experience or service gifts increased five percentage points, to 49 percent.

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