The Millennial generation, those born between 1980 and 2000, encompass over one third of the United States consumer demographic and, as such, have a huge impact on the retail economy. As one might imagine, commercial real estate developers and retail owners are constantly exploring new opportunities to attract this large group —and the amenities offered at retail developments certainly help.
Here are a few ways that high-end retail developments are finding new ways to appeal to millennials via amenities:
1. Offering Complementary Services and Experiences
More shopping malls and retailers are adjusting to millennial consumers by offering more experiences and services. This may include offering a related service or training, such as having cooking lessons in a kitchen supply store, or offering fitness training in athletic retail store. Large box retail is in a big transition and must be able to repurpose space, and doing so to attract millennial shoppers is a win-win situation.
2. Redesign Parking Areas to Accommodate Ride Share
The rise of Uber and Lyft has meant that more people are using ride share applications on a regular basis. Many shopping centers are still set up for the one-person-per-car models, which is not inclusive of a rideshare type set up. As more shopping centers are developed or modified, there is more space remaining by the front door for cars to drop off and pick up passengers.
This modification will allow more people to conveniently shop and then hail their favorite rideshare service for the trip home, or to their next destination. This may require some modification with the traditional parking lot and there may be some parking spaces lost as well. Whenever landlords give up rentable or usuable square footage, there needs to be an increase in revenue or offset in costs. By offering these spots for ride share customers, more shoppers are likely to visit the shopping centers with less space needed for overall parking, a trend that is likely to continue with the rise of the sharing economy.
3. Free Consumer Wi-Fi
The availability of free Wi-Fi services at a shopping mall is an added destination bonus for Millennials looking to shop there. Millennials are connected more than any other generation, and are early adopters for all things high tech. Millennials are more likely to frequent tech saavy businesses and are willing to go out of their way to find businesses that incorporate technology into their experiences. Landlords should take advantage of a variety of communication channels (email, text, social media, and mobile apps) to reach millennial shoppers. By offering free Wi-Fi services to users who frequent the shopping center, retail businesses also have the opportunity to send the consumer informative messages and timely offers. Using Wi-Fi as a marketing channel also allows businesses to gain permission to contact consumers after they leave the premise, which the landlord can use to increase the number of repeat visits.
Wi-Fi engagement allows retailers to attract new consumers into their stores by offering special incentives. These can include coupons, contests, games and other online activities, that will attract people looking for something to do on their mobile device while they’re shopping.
From free Wi-Fi service to enhance millennial shopping experiences, to changing the layout of parking lots to accommodate new trends in ride sharing, there are a number of ways that commercial real estate —and retailers— can attract millennials. What are you seeing in your community?