Millennials, now in their late 20s and 30s, prime shopping years, are a crucial demographic for marketers. Alliances with other brands and marketing partners can extend a brand’s reach, but the messaging must be authentic in order to connect with the discerning Millennial shopper.

Jason Kohn, vice president of partnership strategy, Partnerize

Jason Kohn, vice president of partnership strategy, Partnerize

By 2020, Millennial spending in the U.S. is projected to reach $1.4 trillion annually, accounting for 30 percent of total retail sales. Given the spending power and influence of the Millennial generation, it only makes sense that retailers today are looking for every opportunity to connect in fresh and innovative ways with these consumers.

Partnerships represent a growing avenue through which today’s brands are looking to forge new relationships with Millennial shoppers, and it’s no surprise that many are finding success. After all, the well-documented shopping and ecommerce habits of Millennials align quite closely with the known strengths of partner marketing. Let’s examine a few of these traits in more detail, along with how brands can leverage smart partnerships to deepen their Millennial connections.

Millennials are Omnichannel Shoppers

The vast majority of Millennials today are using a mix of online and in-store channels to shop for products across a wide variety of higher-priced categories, including clothing, beauty, items and even furniture. In fact, nearly two-thirds of U.S. Millennials preferto use some mix of digital and in-store to research and then make a purchase.

By aligning with partners that enable seamless mobile experiences, brands can experience a halo effect from these effortless transactions.

These omnichannel tendencies of Millennial shoppers lend themselves to smart partnering by brands. In recent years, partnership has evolved beyond coupons and cashback to include a combination of channels. Cross-promotional strategies with partners can extend to include digital to in-store, as well as mobile in-store capabilities. In addition, brands now have the ability to partner with publishers that consumers are likely to turn to during their sometimes-considerable purchase research phases. These partnerships lend themselves to cross-platform deals and offers, as well as tracking and insights that can feed back into a cycle of continual learning and refinement.

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Millennials Love a Good Deal

Millennials are known for their financial savvy, and they love a good deal. About two-thirds of Millennials search the internet for coupons when purchasing via a computer, and 62 percent do so when shopping on a mobile device. Brands need to ensure they’re integrating themselves into this natural pattern for Millennials. For example, affiliate and partner channels are tailor-made for delivering value and represent a great way to reach Millennials as they enter the final stages of a purchase.

Despite playing into Millennials’ love of a good deal, it’s worth noting that working with affiliates and other partners doesn’t mean brands have to resign themselves to constant deep discounting. In fact, sometimes something as simple as free shipping might be just as attractive to a Millennial deal-seeker as a discount of equal or greater value.

Millennials are Social and Open to Influence

For Millennials, the line between social media and ecommerce is virtually indistinguishable. An impressive 70 percent of Millennials follow favorite retailers on social media, and 40 percent seek out online reviews and testimonials via social before purchasing a product. In addition, more than one-third of Millennials have made a purchase on social media, and another 30 percent haven’t done so, but say they are open to the idea.

Clearly, a social presence has never been more important for brands, and influencers and content partnerships represent a great way to extend these efforts. By partnering with savvy influencers who represent a brand’s own core values, companies can speak to their audiences through people whose opinions they respect, and they can align with the content that their audiences naturally consume in an authentic way.

Millennials are Hypermobile

Millennialsare more willing than the average American to make purchases on a mobile device. In fact, mobile is now the leading platform for online purchases among Millennials, with 63 percent of Millennials completing transactions on their smartphones

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A recent study found that 67 percent of older Millennials (ages 24-38) saythey prefer to shop on a smartphone or tablet, compared to an average of 42 percent across all age groups. Yet many businesses still aren’t offering an optimized way to shop and pay on these devices.

This is an area where partnership can help. By aligning with partners that enable seamless mobile experiences, brands can experience a halo effect from these effortless transactions. The important thing is to ensure that brands can track their Millennial customers across their entire customer journey. By giving them the ways to shop they want, brands will see success. But replicating and refining that success requires the ability to connect desktop and mobile partner activity.

Millennials are Socially Responsible

Three-quarters of Millennials think more brands should take public stands on important social values, and more and more brands today are obliging them. Given the way in which social sentiment resonates with Millennials, brands shouldn’t miss the opportunity to extend their social consciences by partnering with brands that are like-minded and share similar values. Such efforts can help brands cross-pollinate with complementary consumers. But again, as with other partnership efforts, the social messages and movements around which brands align must be authentic in order to connect with the discerning Millennial shopper

As retailers come to terms with the behavioral differences manifested by their Millennial shoppers, an increasing number recognize that these unique characteristics often create powerful new opportunities to connect and persuade. While they may require some new thinking, savvy plans and tactics can drive extraordinary results. All it takes, in many cases,is that classic marketing “must”—to listen and respond.

Partnerize provides a software-as-a-service platform for managing online marketing partnerships, such as with affiliates and influencers.

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