5 Millennial Shopping Trends You Can’t Afford to Ignore

5 Millennial Shopping Trends You Can’t Afford to Ignore

Good news for small retailers: The ideal millennial retail experience is not a giant superstore full of endless product permutations.

Instead, millennials value simplicity, quality and authenticity, according to the 10 Trends Millennial Retail report from Kelton. A carefully curated store with products that appeal to their tastes will spark millennial spending, according to Kelton, which aims to identify trends before they happen. Here are five trends any retail business targeting millennials needs to be aware of, and how you can do to take advantage of them.

Millennial Shopping Trends

Gender Leveling

Remember when Target got rid of its boys and girls toy departments, instead displaying toys in gender-neutral fashion? While it riled some people, the idea just plain makes sense to millennials. They don’t believe products should be narrowly defined as only for boys or girls, men or women.

You can: Offer gender-neutral merchandise, such as unisex clothing and toys and display it in a gender-neutral fashion. For instance, a clothing boutique with men’s clothes on one side and women’s on the other is so old school. How about casual clothes on one side and dressy clothes on the other? Finally, make sure your visuals, such as store signage, displays, ads and social media posts, are inclusive of the LGBTQ community.


Less is more for millennials, many of whom are rejecting mass consumption and the waste it brings. Instead, they want to purchase fewer, but higher-quality products.

You can: Introduce higher-quality products that cost more, but last longer. Emphasize your products’ quality and durability in your marketing and signage. Encourage reuse of products by offering trade-ins where you give discounts for bringing in old items, then donate the castoffs to charity.

The Snapchat Effect

Millennials are used to quickly changing content, like Snapchat stories that live only 24 hours. They expect your store to keep up by feeding them new stimuli all the time.

You can: Try adding a popup store for a limited time separate from your main location. For instance, if a nearby outdoor shopping center gets lots of summer foot traffic, do a month-long popup there. Inside your store, shift your merchandise mix as frequently as is feasible. This can be as simple as changing your window displays every week or rotating displays from the front to the back of the store. Change the look of your store by adding new signage, displays of art by local artists or other in-store installations. Finally, keep your social media presence enticing with frequent updates.

Local Love

Millennials prefer to support local, independent businesses, not global chains. The more you emphasize your ties to the local community millennials care about, the better.

You can: Get involved in community organizations and events. Use your marketing to highlight any local suppliers to your store or locally made products you sell. Hold in-store events that celebrate the local community. For instance, a bookstore could hold poetry readings or book signings by local authors. Any type of store can incorporate local artists’ work on their walls.

Frictionless Purchasing

More than any other generation, millennials expect the shopping experience to be seamless. They want to pay quickly and use their smartphones for just about everything.

You can: Update your point-of-sale systems to accept digital wallet payments such as Apple Pay, which millennials are more likely than other generations to embrace. Make sure your loyalty program, too, is digital so there’s no need to fumble with plastic loyalty cards. Finally, use tablets and smartphones to accept payments anywhere in store.

Farmer’s Market Photo via Shutterstock

Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.