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We have all witnessed the impact of social media and digital technology on how customers shop and make their buying decisions. Being able to predict how customers will behave in the future by understanding their current attitudes towards brand experiences is pivotal to differentiating and growing your brand. With the increasing popularity of augmented reality apps and VR goggles, we felt it was timely to understand how Millennials use this technology to influence their buying decisions.

Millennial brand engagement, like all things, is going through a transformation as new technologies emerge that can either further leverage their current behaviors or instill new ways of engaging with brands. Shikatani Lacroix initiated a consumer study in the U.S. to understand how new immersive technologies, such as augmented reality apps, VR goggles and computer video conferencing, are influencing how Millennials make their purchase decisions, and to determine the emerging trends marketers need to take into consideration.

The study was conducted among Millennials, Baby Boomers and Generation X to determine if different behaviors exist between each generation. The following outlines some key findings and implications to how marketers should engage Millennials.

When asked to identify which items they currently own and use, Millennials are much more mobile and gaming enabled as they over indexed on ownership and use of laptops (81% versus 75% for Baby Boomers and Gen Xers), smart phones (81% versus 68%), tablets (58% versus 51%) and gaming (54% versus 40%). This suggests Millennials are eager to engage with and utilize interactive in-store touch-screens, 3D-movie presentations and video computer conferencing. Technologies with the highest influence and most positive impact help them make a purchase decision.

Findings suggest that Millennials are more open to change and adopting new technologies and processes. When asked to classify themselves among four categories that best fit with their purchase behaviour and use of technology, more than 23% identified themselves as individuals who are first to discover and purchase new technology (versus total sample of 15%) and 17% indicated that owning the newest models of technology was important to them (versus total sample of 14%). Combining these two behaviors shows that 40% of Millennials are open to risk and exploring new technologies, which opens the door to the use of innovative immersive engagement platforms. Ultimately Millennials see themselves as innovators and early adopters to new technology, which supports new purchase behavior approaches.

Rankings from the study suggest that both Millennials and Baby Boomers look for stores offering virtual demonstration areas that they can view with 3D glasses, the ability to receive personalized messages and offers on their smart phones, digital shelf signs that identify social media comments and votes, virtual fitting rooms where they can try a wide range of products quickly, and finally stores with large panel digital signs that communicate offers effectively.

The research clearly identifies Millennials are open to new technologies and view them as effective tools in helping them make their purchase decisions. The study Shikiatani Lacroix initiated also identifies that out of the Gen X, Boomers and Millennials cohorts, Boomers and Millennials in particular share similar behaviors and needs as they relate to the use of technology and key brand experiences.

To view the study in its entirety, download the white paper: The Future of Millennial Brand Engagement

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