Thanks in part to Millennials, the retail industry is going through an identity crisis. Brick-and-mortar stores are struggling to stay relevant, while online retailers are throwing money into mobile commerce. Meanwhile, social media has forced companies to be more transparent about business practices and customer service management.
With retail spending by Millennials expected to outpace Baby Boomers by 2017, it’s clear our generation is quickly becoming a key demographic for merchants. That’s why it’s important to have these few money-saving strategies at the ready the next time you hit up your favorite store.
Get social with brands.
Liking brands on Facebook and following them on Twitter represent great ways to keep tabs on the companies you love. It also helps you score discounts in the form of exclusive offers. For example, I follow Sprouts Farmers Markets on Facebook and they occasionally offer “Social Savings” on specific products. All I have to do is mention the deal at checkout to get special pricing. Similarly, a friend of mine “unlocked” a secret code on Facebook for Hotels.com and scored 15-percent off her booking.
Use your smartphone for savings.
According to a recent survey by Pew Research, 89 percent of Millennials owned a smartphone as of January 2014. Another report found 90 percent of Millennials plan shopping trips around coupons and are more likely to use these discounts than their parents. Interestingly, over half of Millennials surveyed by Valassis (an advertising firm) prefer paper coupons received in the mail or found in a newspaper. This is surprising since mobile apps are a great source for savings. Check out Clutch, ShopSavvy and Coupon Sherpa for access to digital deals, price-comparison tools and loyalty card organization.
While brand loyalty may be harder to come by compared to earlier generations, Millennials are more apt to return to brands they love, especially if that brand has a robust loyalty program. The MyRewards program from Starbucks is an oft-cited case study for success with the Millennial generation. The discounts and free drinks are abundant and relatively easy to come by, while the ability to check out via smartphone is an added perk. Some loyalty programs are better than others, so read the fine print before signing up. It also helps to create a separate email account for these programs as retail messaging tends to be aggressive.
Get acquainted with the secondary gift card market.
The branding of gift cards as “impersonal” has gone by the wayside in recent years, a trend I credit to the Millennial generation. During the 2013 holiday season, for example, 89 percent of Millennials wanted gift cards and 88 percent planned to give them as gifts. The secondary gift card market is the next big thing for Millennials to embrace, allowing you to buy gift cards at a discount or sell unwanted cards for cash. I’ve purchased cards to Pier 1, TJMaxx and Starbucks for 15 to 20 percent less than face value. Using these cards with coupons and store promotions will increase your overall savings potential!
Use browser add-ons for online shopping.
Forty percent of male Millennials and 33 percent of Millennial females would prefer to buy everything online, according to a 2013 survey from DDB Worldwide. With that kind of affection for e-commerce, it’s essential to find available deals before clicking “purchase.” Try browser add-ons like PriceBlink to take the work out of comparing prices and finding coupon codes. Hukkster is another great tool, sending price-drop notifications when something you covet goes on sale.