How can brands keep their Millennial customers as they become first-time parents, and build affinity with the next generation at the same time? We looked into three promising retail strategies…
Millennial parents are a powerful demo with deep pockets. In our New Parents On The Block trend, we found that 32% of 18-36-year-olds are currently parents, compared to 14% in 2014, and that figure rises to 45% for 25-36-year-olds—and they wield an estimated average spending power of $1.3 trillion. There’s another reason brands should want to win them over, in addition to their spending power: NRF research suggests that they Millennial parents may be the most brand loyal demo, despite their generation’s Loyalish reputation. Nearly half said they’ll stay loyal to a brand even when there are more affordable options available, compared to 30% from other generations, and 52% will forsake more convenient options for their brand of choice, compared to 35% of other parents. To top it off, 64% of Millennial parents shop their preferred brands before even considering competitors, reports MediaPost.
But becoming a must-buy brand for this demo means appealing to their entire village: We found that their top influences when shopping for their kids are their kids’ requests, followed by recommendations from friends and family. They’re also well-informed, with online reviews and recommendations taking the third spot on their list. So, as brands look for ways to accompany Millennials into their next life stage, we broke down three strategies that are starting to hit the mainstream:
1. Making Mini Versions
We started seeing pint-sized streetwear catered to mini-hypebeasts back in 2017, but now brands are downsize their hero products for the next generation, creating a strange new breed of daddy/mommy-and-me lines. It’s the latest trend among made-for-Millennials, direct-to-consumer brands, which know their core demo is growing up and becoming parents. Ad Age reports that Allbirds downsized their sneaker into Smallbirds, Quip created a kid-sized toothbrush, and Away made child-friendly luggage. According to the VP of marketing at Rothy’s (a DTC shoe brand), their line of child-sized shoes “has surpassed expectations.” But it’s not just DTC brands looking to win over both demos at once. Puma recently launched several lines full of kid-and-grownup-sized apparel, accessories, and footwear that tapped Millennial nostalgia. Their Barbie and Hot Wheels collections were full of old-school logos and on-trend silhouettes, reports Teen Vogue, and the adult-sized sneakers sold out first.
2. Big Brands Betting On Subscription Services
We found in our New Parents on the Block trend that 15% of Millennial parents have purchased a subscription box of kids clothing or toys—which appeal to young people’s penchants for sustainability and convenience. Following indie brands’ lead, big brands have started rolling out their own services, in the hopes that they can tap Millennial parents’ spending power on a monthly basis and build a brand relationship with kids that lasts past their childhoods. Target has gotten in on the the subscription box craze with a kids’ offering, while Gap saw so much success with their BabyGap and Old Navy kids’ boxes that they launched a service specifically for sleepwear, reports Chain Store Age. Most recently, Nike made headlines when they launched a kids’ shoe subscription. According to TechCrunch, Nike Adventure Club will send a new pair of kicks every 90 days, keeping up with kids’ ever-changing size. Parents can scale up to six or twelve pairs a year.
3. Branded Babysitting
Big brands haven’t quite caught on to this last trend: providing in-store childcare. While grocery chains have been supplying childcare for a while (though some are closing them down, per Grocery Dive), retail stores that sell much more than food are looking to do the same. And the move makes sense: with more stores looking to provide an experience rather than actually push purchase-making, parents no longer need their kids with them to help decide what to buy. That also supports why some grocery chains may be backing off their childcare initiatives, since grocery shopping is still primarily about, well, buying groceries. BuzzFeed’s new Camp store is pioneering this strategy with play spaces that feature trampolines, crafts, music, and other activities. Parents can even pay $50 a month to become members who access special perks, including “free” evening childcare. The effort is expanding to include daytime field trips, and “day camp” sessions, reports Bloomberg. With retail toy sales dropping and “former giants” shutting down storefronts, a revolutionary approach might be what the industry needs.