Why city’s young consumers need to be recognised

Olga Munroe (left) and Elizabeth Murphy.
Olga Munroe (left) and Elizabeth Murphy.

Businesses need to understand Millennials better and look beyond misconceptions about them to tap into that generation of customers, according to an expert.

Olga Munroe, acting head of the Retail Institute at Leeds Beckett University, says Millennials are a generation of influencers that get information from multiple channels before making purchases.

Speaking at a Innovation Network Event in Wakefield organised by Leeds Beckett, Ms Munroe said: “There’s a lot of information out there about Millenials. We seem to be fixated by that particular demographic group.

“We’ve noticed as an academic institution that there’s a lot of misconception about what this consumer group wants, who they are and what the reality is.”

She added that the main difference between Millennials and other demographics is that they are a generation of influencers.

“Whatever behaviours they adapt, other generations follow,” Ms Munroe said, at an event looking into the behaviour of future consumers.

The acting head of the Retail Institute, which carries out research into consumer behaviour, added that Millennials are also “thrifty” as their take home pay has not increased as fast as those of other generations.

Ms Munroe said: “Millennials are very thrifty shoppers. They research the purchases from multiple channels before actually making the purchases.

“They will go to different sources. They actually have, very interestingly, high levels of following traditional advertising. It’s not just traditional marketing they’re looking at. They’re looking at social media, known peers. YouTube is the most popular search engine.

“They follow peers, opinion leaders and experts from different fields before making informed decisions but the main point is they look to multiple sources before making informed decisions.”

Millennials have also had to become more entrepreneurial as a result of reaching adulthood during tough economic times, Ms Munroe added.

The generation is perceived as being more in tune with technology but that doesn’t mean that they are better skilled in technology.

Ms Munroe said: “There’s a lot of misconceptions about technology. Millenials are not more technologically skilled than other generations. That’s actually incorrect. There seems to be a belief that they have more programming skills than other generations. What is different is that they use the social media and tools available online on a much larger scale.”

Millennials are also brand loving activist, Ms Munroe says, but consumer convenience usually wins out. The Innovation Network Event is sponsored by Yorkshire Bank, The Yorkshire Post, Wakefield Express, AdVenture, Exa Networks, WGN Accountants, Lupton Fawcett LLP, Wakefield College.

Elizabeth Murphy, manager of the Wakefield Business Improvement District (BID), was also a speaker at the event. She outlined how the Wakefield BID was looking to change perceptions of the city.

Ms Murphy said: “We’re not a market town. We’re a city and we need to take the city title on and not call ourselves a town anymore.

“We are a city and we should absolutely beating that drum out there. We need to offer a variety of reasons to stay.

“Every investor is a visitor first. They will come and do a recce on our city before they ever think about investing. We need to have that visitor perception right.”