Influencer Marketing

360i Report: How Marketers Can Engage Millennials at the Supermarket

February 25, 2013

By Danielle Moylan & Lara Hejtmanek, Insights & Planning at 360i

Millennials are interesting and, at times, enigmatic for marketers to understand. Their digital habits are vastly different from the generations before them, which means they require a completely different approach.
Millennials prefer brands with a strong social-mobile presence; moreover, the influence of media on these individuals is two-to-three times higher than average shoppers.
And according to Advertising Age, nearly 70 percent of them won’t make a major decision without running it by their network first. Since Millennials are so digitally connected, it’s no surprise they often turn to their friends and family for advice.

Our initial research around mobile conversations happening in the supermarket showed that Millennials were one of the demographics most likely to express themselves in social media while in this environment. We decided to go deeper and explore more about what these individuals had to say and how they were expressing themselves on their mobile devices in store aisles. We specifically looked at in-store grocery shopping conversations on Twitter and Facebook status updates — all conversations originating from mobile devices when the consumer appeared to actually be in the store, in the act of shopping.

What Millennials aren’t saying & doing says a lot
Of the conversations we studied, only 3 percent mentioned a brand name. Moreover,less than 10 percent of all conversations sampled shared a picture. This is a clear indication that Millennials prefer to share their grocery shopping experiences in words, not images.

When the consumers did share pictures, it was because something unique or out of the ordinary caught their eye: perhaps the lights were off in the grocery store, or the vendor was selling an entire pig in the meat section. Sharing photos indicates a deeper level of engagement and brands can look for opportunities to make the grocery store trip more engaging with imagery.

Sarcasm reigns supreme for Millennials in stores
Millennials seem to revel in negative and sarcastic commentary on the things other shoppers did to annoy them, as well as something embarrassing that they themselves did. As shown in Exhibit A, while negativity is nearly 50 percent of comments, it tends to be with a bit of a wry sense of humor and amusement.
As shown in Exhibit B, negativity extends to the process of grocery shopping — other people annoying them, standing in long lines, other people’s kids being out of control, bumping into someone they didn’t want to see, etc. It’s evident that over half the conversations discuss a social interaction occurring while in-store. The grocery store is a cross section of all types of people, and the conversations depict a clash of human interactions.
Positive conversations tend to be about moments when these Millennials are entertained — such as hearing music they enjoy — often resulting in singing and dancing in the aisles or when they have the opportunity to flirt or notice someone else in the store.

Nevertheless, as shown in Exhibit C, Millennials are more likely to be annoyed and stressed than they are to be happy. Of the emotions expressed, about a third of the Millennials were annoyed or stressed in the grocery store. However, 24 percent were amused, which reveals a potential opportunity for marketers to tap into by finding ways to make shopping more fun and playful.
The conversations also show that, while Millennials like to shop with friends, Mom is the most frequent companion. Just like when these young adults were children, they still complain about getting lost and about their parents taking too long in the store. Some things never change.
The awkward moment when ur texting in the grocery store and realize the person you’ve been following isnt ur mom.”
“My mom has been in the grocery store for 40 minutes…. #letsgo

How Can Brands Buck These Trends?
With only 3 percent of Millennials actively sharing brand names, engaging them in the grocery store presents quite the challenge for marketers. What’s more is that only roughly a quarter of the feedback is positive, with conversations mostly negative/neutral.
Nevertheless, there is still an opportunity for marketers to influence what’s happening in the stores and shift tides in the conversations. Here are a few key ways marketers can leverage Millennials’ mobile mindset in the supermarket aisles:

Millennials want to be entertained — Marketers can’t get rid of grocery store annoyances, but they can find ways to make the experience more interesting, exciting or enjoyable for critical and time-strapped Millennial shoppers. We believe that starts with giving consumers the tools to get to a better, more novel, and more entertaining experience.
Mobile is a way in — Given that Millennials are already using their phones to complain while in-store, there is an opportunity to entice them to be more productive with those same phones. A critical first step is to create a stronger digital program — with mobile at its core — to establish a close relationship with them.
Don’t talk about grocery shopping — A brand’s program must be relevant to Millennials — something that speaks to them in the act of shopping. How can marketers get their attention in a positive way? The answer may have nothing to do with shopping at all; in fact, the social and experiential aspect of shopping is how Millennials are most likely to talk when they are in the store. The idea provides clues to what they will respond to outside of product-centered posts and promotions.
Create ways to empower Millennials before, during and after the shopping process —
Before: Not all decisions need to be made in-store. Marketers have an opportunity to save Millennials’ time by taking the shopping experience out of the grocery store. A good example of this is when Kellogg’s created a pop-up style store, turning customers’ social currency into real goods and positive sentiment. Passersby could walk into the store, sample the range of new cereal crisps and subsequently tweet about them to purchase a box to take home.

During: Marketers can use mobile to take the uncertainty out of purchasing their product by using mobile/tablets to give Millennials richer and more entertaining product demonstrations.
After: The post purchase period is the time marketers can build loyalty with Millennials. Brands should amplify a product experience. Providing a compelling social or digital component to your product can be the unique point of differentiation that drives repeat purchase. Although not specific to a grocery store, Starbucks Cup Magic app allowed consumers to send and receive virtual Valentine’s Day messages by scanning one of its limited edition themed cups and watching the cup come to life.

There remains plenty of untapped potential for marketers willing to innovate their approach by tapping into the Millennial mindset.

This data comes from 360i’s research and analysis conducted of the social media landscape in 2012. Approximately 200 of Millennials’ mobile posts were analyzed from both Twitter and public Facebook profiles.

A team of analysts created a sophisticated keyword string to extract posts about grocery shopping. The analysts subsequently isolated mobile posts coming only from Millennials. Once the posts were isolated, the team analyzed the data for sentiment, top categories, and use of pictures by reading each of the posts in the sample and coding the data.