Video: Q&A with Marcie Merriman, Big Red Rooster

Big Red Rooster’s executive vp shares how retailers can keep up with millennials
Posted July 1, 2011

At VMSD’s International Retail Design Conference in September, you’ll share insight into the shopping habits of millennials. During your research on this generation (18- to 29-year-olds), what most surprised you about their shopping habits?
Their frugality. This generation has grown up under the protection of its helicopter parents and is known for entitlement attitudes. I expected that they wouldn’t have much concern or appreciation for price/value, but they turned out to be bargain-shopping masters who make their dollars stretch like no other.

What retailers are connecting with this sense of frugality to draw these shoppers into the store?
Luxury brand Coach contacts its millennial customers directly by phone for invitation-only shopping events, where they save 25 percent. Fashion retailer Charlotte Russe recently launched shopping happy hours between 4 and 5 p.m. – typically a dead period – where customers receive additional savings.

How does store design need to change to meet the needs of millennials?
Designs must be easy, hassle-free and completely transparent. Gimmicks will kill you with this group, so everything you do must have a purpose. For millennials who have kids, the perfect mash-up would be one part Target because of the convenience factor; one part Amazon for the personalized recommendations; one part Farmville for the entertainment factor within your social network; and a sprinkle of “Yo Gabba Gabba!” for the ability to entrance youngsters into a fantasy experience.

As this generation moves into parenthood, how does that affect the way brands are now positioning themselves?
This group is not brand loyal, especially as they become parents. In order to compete, brands must up their game through product innovation, corporate business practices (i.e., green initiatives, philanthropic efforts) and new ways to engage shoppers. The number one way millennial parents told us they wish to engage with brands is via the web – they love Facebook contests.

What other elements do millennial parents appreciate in a store environment?
Parents of this generation spend a lot of time shopping with their kids. Therefore, they value retailers that make shopping with their kids a better experience. Examples include Gymboree’s TV area and Kroger’s digital screens on shopping carts.

As the retail landscape continues to evolve, how has your work changed in the last five years?
Understanding the shopper in relation to his or her world is critical. Consumers’ worlds and lives are more and more integrated, and retail success hinges on understanding how influences outside the store drive needs, desires and behaviors within it. Ethnographic and qualitative research that explores consumers’ lives holistically is becoming an increasingly important tool to achieve this understanding.

Summer Ready
This summer I’ll be: Active in triathlons. The camaraderie, excitement and energy at these events are amazing.
I’ll be wearing: Sandals!
I’ll be drinking: My year-round favorite, wine, but I’ll move the festivities outdoors.