Editor’s Note: This post was originally published October 11, 2017 and was updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness on September 21, 2018.
Millennials are the future of consumers. With an estimated $200 billion in buying power in America alone, the businesses who listen to and focus on this up-and-coming generation will be more likely to secure customers for life.
Multinational clothing company Urban Outfitters is a fantastic example of this principle at work. According to a study conducted by WWD, the company has been named one of the top two in popularity among Millennials.
So what is Urban Outfitters doing to get their attention? There are 3 key things that separate the trendy lifestyle brand from their competition.
1. Offering an engaging rewards experience
Millennials have grown up in an era of rapidly-advancing technology, which means they are very comfortable with online and mobile shopping. In order for brick and mortar retail stores to keep up, omnichannel retention programs are critical to enhancing the customer experience.
Reward programs are a huge part of that. Research has shown that 80% of Millennials participate in at least one loyalty program, which means many of them have come to expect it from the brands they choose to shop with.
Urban Outfitters delivers on this expectation with UORewards, an online and mobile program that allows members to earn rewards for every purchase, social share, and more. The best part is that it’s free to join and members can start receiving personalized offers, prizes, and discounts the day they sign up!
One of the biggest draws to this program is how fun the rewards are to earn and redeem. Millennials love to be entertained, and UO Rewards has no shortage of excitement. Whether they’re simply making a purchase using the UO App or creating a new Wish List, Millennial shoppers can stay engaged with the program in ways that make sense for them.
This enjoyable experience examples to include a variety of experiential rewards as well. Rather than simply offering discounts or samples, Urban Outfitters allows members to redeem points for Millennial-centric rewards like tickets to artist meet-and-greets, signed merch, and personalized prizes.
In addition to the variety of ways to earn and redeem, Urban Outfitters Rewards keeps members engaged by making the tracking of points simple and actionable. The UO app provides members with a visually-appealing “tracker” that clearly communicates their progress toward their next reward. This, combined with details on how to keep earning and spending points, gamifies the rewards experience to keep every member on their toes.
Key Takeaway: Relevant rewards 🏆
Clearly the Urban Outfitters Rewards program was created with the Millennial in mind. From the convenient mobile app and tracker to the variety of ways to earn and experiential rewards to redeem, Urban Outfitters hasn’t missed a beat in designing a program that appeals to today’s young adult.
2. Building a strong brand community
As digital natives, millennials are fast adopters of up-and-coming trends and are looking for engaging brands to build deeper connections with. That means brands who take the time to engage with them on a personal level are more likely to earn their loyalty.
Urban Outfitters understands the importance of a strong brand community and leverages tools like social media to encourage Millennial customers to join, engage with, and share their brand. 62% of Millennials state that they are more likely to become loyal customers when brands engage with them on social networks, making this is a very smart move!
With a combined social following of over 9 million people on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Snapchat (among others), Urban Outfitters is no stranger to online engagement. They use each of these channels to facilitate two-way communication that helps them build emotional relationships even from behind a screen. By coining their own product-related hashtags and encouraging user-generated content across platforms, the retailer has truly developed an online community of fans who love their brand.
Not only does Urban Outfitters build relationships by maintaining an online voice that is approachable and relatable, they also make it worthwhile for customers to get engaged with their community. Using the hashtags #UOOnYou, #UOMens, #UOHme, #OUBeauty, or #UOMusic, fans of UO have the opportunity to be featured on the brand’s community page, while also earning rewards for social engagement. This not only encourages followers to interact with the brand but also to keep creating content in order to become a “featured” member.
This approach has guaranteed a consistent flow of user-generated content and a stable word-of-mouth marketing strategy for their brand with minimal heavy lifting on their end. Since 80% of millennials believe that user-generated content is a good indicator of a brand's quality, this strategy is sure to incite loyalty and trust toward Urban Outfitters for a long time.
Key Takeaway: Social strategy 📱
When you consider its expansive reach, it’s clear why Urban Outfitters’ social media strategy was ranked 12th in the world by L2’s Digital IQ Index. Their commitment to engaging with customers online, their relatable online voice, and encouragement of user-generated content has Millennials hooked on their brand.
3. Being responsive
It’s a well-known fact that Millennials want their voice to be heard by the brands they choose to shop with. 64% of Millennials believe that companies should offer ways for consumers to share their opinion, and as a result they expect these brands to not only be open to their opinions but also willing to change. Urban Outfitters is no exception to the rule, and they’ve made a commitment to adjusting their methods based on Millennial demands.
A lot of this is through feedback. Urban Outfitters consistently encourages and monitors customer feedback across each of their social channels. Encouraging two-way communication on social media, responding to customer reviews, and monitoring brand conversations ensures that no review goes unheard. Christine Doobinin, one of Urban Outfitters' home decor buyers, said it best:
A stunning example of Urban Outfitters’ response to a shift in consumer needs was the introduction of home showrooms in each of their retail stores. When the company recognized that Millennials were moving out of their parents’ homes and furnishing their own apartments, they jumped on the opportunity to fit their unique needs and tastes.
Today, most Urban Outfitters’ stores feature a line of curated home decor pieces that are just as trendy and eclectic as the market they’re intended for. From neon “slay” signs to traditional glassware, Urban Outfitters offers what Millennials want for each stage of life as they progress from college dorms to apartments and homes. By anticipating their customers’ needs, they were able to perfectly position themselves as the solutions to all of their problems — before they even knew what the problem was.
Key Takeaway: Loud and clear 📣
At Urban Outfitters, the opinions of Millennials are heard loud and clear. The company takes time to prompt feedback, listen, and respond to the market as needs shift. The result? A generation who feels like their voice counts to the company, and brand loyalty that follows suit.
A strategy fit for Millennials
While the Millennial market presents challenges for brands who don’t understand their needs, this cohort also presents opportunities for businesses to create a more engaging marketing strategy. Urban Outfitters has demonstrated the profitability of a Millennial marketing campaign by placing importance on what’s important to their target market: a strong brand community, social interaction and rewards, and their voice as customers.
While many Millennials may not be buying homes any time soon, they are buying from Urban Outfitters. Are they buying from you?