Unrivaled purchasing power on the horizon, much yet to be understood.

Over a half of Millennials trust the opinions of strangers online over those of friends and family, the same group of people that will have more spending power than any other generation come 2017. Is it a surprise that brands and retailers of all sizes are holding planning meetings, conducting surveys, and investing large sums of money to try to understand this up-and-coming consumer? For some, engaging with user generated content online such as reviews or photos before making a purchase is just part of considering any product that you might purchase. If that sounds like you, drop your socks and check your birthday buddy because you might in fact be a Millennial.

Where do we find true fulfillment?

Why is it that this new breed of shopper is so eager to trust in his or her fellow consumer you might ask? The time needed for thorough purchase consideration just isn’t worth it for the new consumer and it is arguably unnecessary due to increased transparency online. The interaction with the product and the purchase decision itself used to be part of an experience for a consumer, whereas now, increasingly, we see products being valued more as an enabler of experiences with others. Could it be that consumers have an overload of information being thrown at them from all directions online? Perhaps, in the face of this barrage of data and digital interactions, society is retreating unto itself and finding that they year for fulfillment via real-world interactions and experiences.

Make no mistake, we have a shortage of time on our hands.

Note that Facebook used to be an activity in and of itself, yet now, it is merely a medium to share experiences with others. Take a look at the products sold on Groupon, most involve real-world interaction and what about phones, clothes, cars, do they not sell experiences in a way? Well, some better than others. But with all these experiences out there at our fingertips, who has the time anymore to talk with a friend before purchasing? Who has time to think about whether you truly need the product? 84% of Millennials say that user-generated content has at least some influence on what they buy, and 62% of them already know what they want to buy before even entering the store!

The shortest path from A to B.

It’s not that we don’t have the time to think about our purchases, because let’s be honest, we do, but what your experiencing is a fundamental shift in time prioritization – the process for making the “best decision” requires strain and actual thought and is quickly dismissed by your subconscious in favor of something fun and painless that will boost our dopamine levels. And after all, as Millennials we are distracted and want everything done for us, we have an excuse! So how do we solve this dilemma: I want some bluetooth speakers because friends and strangers are using and talking about them these days, I don’t want to spend a lot of time thinking about it, yet I want the best value for my buck – I know, I will trust in my fellow consumer!

Thanks, internet search.

Early adopters of this philosophy don’t sort by price or even search term relevance anymore, we sort by that all powerful Amazon “New and Best Selling”. Awww yeah, you know what I’m talking about, notice that Amazon has started ranking their products? “#1 in Home Electronics”, wow, talk about making my distracted, lazy, millennial decision making process that much easier. Think about it for a second, in Google, Facebook, Reddit and others, the best content magically “bubbles to the top”. You can be sure that this isn’t by accident because that is the main value of their search – they sort by “most popular” which can take into account likes, views, shares, location, relevancy, and what do you do?

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Source: econsultancy.com

68% of you click one of the first 3 results and 95% of you never make it to the second page. Applying these same concepts to retail, it is not farfetched to think that in a few years, the future state of shopping will look more like a search engine – you search for the product you want, the search medium performs some magical charms known as algorithms to surface the best products, and you, the trusting consumer, choses one of the top results. For those brands out there, it won’t be long before retailers follow suit with Google and Amazon, and I would pose to you this question: what are you doing today to ensure that you are on that first page of search results?