Have Yourself a Millennial Little Christmas: Reaching Millennials During the Holidays

By: Sean Brenner

We know — You’ve read enough holiday-themed articles, blog posts and thought pieces this year to last you until at least December 2026.

But we’re throwing one more at you because, frankly, we can’t stop thinking about some interesting statistics we read about millennial holiday shoppers. Rubicon Project’s annual holiday consumer poll revealed that:

  • Millennials plan to spend an average of $1,427 this year. That’s about $330 more than non-millennial shoppers. It’s also a 38 percent jump from what millennials said they spent last year.
  • Of all the types of purchases they’re planning to make, millennials are allocating the greatest single chunk — about one-quarter — to experiences. (As if we needed more evidence of the power of experiential events.)
  • 28 percent of millennials (versus 22 percent of all shoppers) plan to shop online only. (Among other things, that helps explain why Cyber Monday is gaining ground on Black Friday as the holiday shopping day.)

Other surveys put the percentage of millennials who are shopping online only even higher — Ypulse says more than 40 percent of them won’t step foot in a store this holiday season. But you get the idea: This online shopping thing might be here to stay.

In fact, a growing number of millennials are shopping right from their phones, which means that if you can use a social media campaign to promote your online store, you’re finding a sweet spot. Engaging consumers through a fun photo or video contest could be one way — just encourage participants to use your tags and to @mention your brand. (The Tasty Burger promo mentioned on this list got us thinking about it.)

Put a few of those trends together and it’s no wonder that shopping malls are adding areas dedicated to experiences — as the Wall Street Journal found, skydiving simulators and “escape rooms” are examples — even as traditional retail anchors continue to struggle or close. So, increasingly, if brands want to win consumers and win the holidays, they’ll need to find ways to build experiences into their marketing, or even into their bricks-and-mortar presentations. (YPulse highlights Google, Toys”R”Us, eBay, Snapchat and Taco Bell as a few of the brands that have figured this out.)

As we wrote recently on this very blog, millennials also are a fairly charitable bunch, and that can mean that they are more loyal to brands that support causes they care about. So let millennials know that you’ll donate to the groups and nonprofits that matter most to them, whether they shop in store or online — like through Newbridge’s Campus Causes, which sends money back to student organizations —and it could be a very happy holiday indeed.