Successfully branding to younger generations starts with creating a winning and engaging marketing strategy. However, to do so, companies must understand how millennials shop for and purchase consumer packaged goods, or CPGs.

Millennials act and shop differently than generations before them. We'll discuss a couple of ways they differ, and how brands can win these consumers over by using CPG technology to better understand how these consumers shop.

"Millennials act and shop differently than generations before them."

1. Understand Shopping is Social

In 2012, Dollar Shave Club created a marketing video that went viral, and helped the company propel itself to stardom. Viewers shared that video over 22 million times, and roughly four years later, Unilever, a multinational consumer goods conglomerate, bought Dollar Shave Club for roughly $1 billion.

This shaving company accomplished one thing we need to note: It showed the world there was more to marketing than paying thousands or millions of dollars for TV spots and billboards. Companies could engage new groups of consumers – particularly ones living in a completely digital world – for relatively cheap, while allowing them to engage with the brand's advertising and spread content for free.

While Dollar Shave Club may not have been the first to take this marketing approach, it was certainly one of the most successful companies to do so. Since its viral video, other companies have tried to follow its lead, using social advertising (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter) to engage audiences.

One such example is Coca-Cola, which came out with a brilliant ad in 2014 for college students. The TV commercial showed students unable to open cans of Coca-Cola unless they paired up with other pupils. Playing on the idea that new students want to be social and make friends, the video helped Coca-Cola gain 5,000 new subscriptions to its YouTube channel, 8 million video views and 160,000 Facebook likes and shares. And it almost certainly improved the company's bottom line.

CPG manufacturers need to know where their customers are (online) and how they're interacting with established and emerging digital platforms. The more data a company has, the more valuable it becomes, which is likely one reason Unilever bought Dollar Shave Club – a company that had a wealth of consumer information.

Once companies collect that information, they can use business intelligence software, such as XP3, to load, aggregate and analyze crucial shopper data, enabling category managers to gain greater business insights through customized reporting, flexible queries and dynamic data visualizations. Furthermore, managers can keep updated with CPG trends because all of the system's reports, analytics and dashboards can be updated in no time. 

Consumers today are using digital devices to shop for CGPs.Consumers today are using digital devices to shop for CPGs.

2. Realize Millennials Have Specific Shopping Habits

"Millennials appreciate new commodities, while baby boomers and generation X consumers like well-known brands"

In the first segment, we discussed one way younger generations are searching for goods. If companies want to truly connect with their consumers, they must also understand how they spend their money.

  1. Millennials Like New Products and Brands: According to Nielsen's 28th annual Harris Poll EquiTrend study, millennials appreciate new commodities, while baby boomers and generation X consumers like well-known, trusted brands that have staying power.
  2. Millennials Love Shopping Online: How many of your friends have signed up for Amazon Prime? Shopping online is quick, convenient and typically more accessible for busy millennials.
  3. Millennials Like to be Catered to: This might be a slightly exaggerated assessment (we're sure other generations have their characteristics), but a significant number of millennials want brands to prove their worth to them and change accordingly with their desires. Some already are. Take, for example, Whole Foods Market – a company effectively centered around the idea that organic foods are better, and people who want them will pay extra. However, last April, the supermarket chain revealed a new type of store – called 365 – that isn't necessarily catered to millennials, but is trying to attract an audience that appears to be trending younger. Products are cheaper, the store's layout is more open, noted Fortune, and Whole Foods is paying special attention to each of its stores' eight end caps, which MediaPost noted is a popular feature among millennials looking to find products quickly. While the food chain continues to struggle against competitors, such as Walmart and even German grocery chain Aldi, Whole Foods hopes its new 365 stores can help it stay out in front of its consumers, according to Business Insider.

3. Use the Right Software

Whole Foods found a way to innovate by researching marketplace trends, specifically studying how some businesses have turned away from more lavish experiences to ones that are simple and streamlined but still maintain great quality. This was a result of deep analysis of their core customers' shopping and buying behavior. To perform this type of iterative analysis, you must have powerful analytic tools.

It's critical managers have the ability to easily access data they need, and build comprehensive, simple-to-interpret reports that can scale across your client base with ease. This type of infrastructure reduces mistakes that can have a detrimental impact on a company's bottom line, and allows for real-time actionable updates in seconds. By using Interactive Edge's XP3 Suite, category and brand managers will gain a better handle on consumer buying behavior and increase their ability to react quickly to market opportunities.