Youth is wasted on the young, a pop culture proverb says. Possibly, but it’s not wasted on ecommerce sales. If you aren’t in a niche sector tailored naturally to boomers or the elderly, pay attention. The market is now dominated by under-35ers.
Estimates hold that young consumers have driven the shift to online shopping, and this escalated following the year-plus long Covid pandemic shutdowns. Keeping in mind the importance of developing broad-based marketing strategies, it’s a good bet that targeting younger consumers will pay off big, for a variety of reasons.
First, and most obvious, they compose the lion’s share of online buyers. Second, they are influencers who are often called on by older relatives, coworkers, and others for ideas and knowledge of internet shopping.
Second, those young shoppers won’t be young forever. Cultivating and currying favor among them now will build loyalty – as long as you think carefully about how to tweak your marketing along the way.
Looking at expanding your reach to multiple social media platforms is an essential way to take advantage of the younger consumer base. They populate Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and other apps that are not the standard Facebook (which, almost comically, has become a domain for the older set). Linking your online store through platforms like Shopify is a great start, although a bit of manual labor might allow you to skip that intermediary. Facebook, for example, and its affiliate Instagram continually update features to accommodate online shopping.
Make them happy
What do young shoppers want and expect from online sellers? There are a multitude of answers to that, but common answers include optimized search functions, intuitive interfaces, fresh content, a minimum of unnecessary communications (they are a busy set!) and – wait for it – splashy graphics. Visuals go a long way if they aren’t gawdy and overwhelming.
Considering younger internet users were the first to embrace social media, remember that they still congregate there frequently, even if their preferred platform choices evolve. Many will follow friends who offer inspirational input.
And don’t count out teens, a demographic increasingly gaining access to capital. Their direct buying power is a boon to your business, so treat it accordingly. Research trends and preferences, as well as which sites successfully attract them (see this Good Housekeeping piece from 2020). Respect their price-point limitations without attempting to sell them junk. They will spend more on one good item than four cheaply-made items.
Despite assumptions to the contrary, teens and younger buyers don’t demand high levels of information and an excess of graphics. They should be attractive and educational, but also simplified to capture and keep attention.
Finally, make it clear that you understand their technological savvy. Prove you want to make their buying experience as seamless as possible, leaving open channels of communication initiated by them. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of gaining trust and comfort as a way of forming permanent seller/consumer relationships.