The Key to Attracting Millennials and 6 Ways to Do It

The retail challenges seem to just keep coming: the Internet, e-commerce, social media, training and retaining today’s workers, smartphones, big-box retailers and Amazon. And now a generation that lives and shops differently: millennials. If you’re in retail, you’ve experienced the millennial walk-through: the young customers who make a lap around your store and exit faster than your staff can say welcome. Frustrating, right?

Photo: Kari Smith AIFD

What’s especially frustrating is that you likely offer something they want—they just didn’t see it how they wanted it. You can shrug your shoulders and fault an entire generation of customers. Or you can explore an approach more likely to keep them in your store, get them excited about your products and to build more buzz around your biz. Which is: collaboration!

Create magic together

Not feeling it? I can see audiences getting unnerved whenever I mention collaboration during workshops. We tend to view ourselves as floral magicians, calling on our skill, training and inspiration in the design room to create enchantments. Well, millennials don’t consider this their concern. They want to be involved in the magic creation—or they just disappear without a word. Fortunately, in my experience, collaborative creation is fun! Here are six ways you can begin collaborating with your customers. Try these and see where the creative path takes you together.

1.    Create inspiring large-scale installations

[rev_slider alias="attract-millennials-1"] One fun way for your team to get creative is to design an inspiring, accessible and scalable display. The wow factor of a large installation stops them in their tracks. If the design is modular it can be sold in pieces or in small, medium and large format. The women's clothing retailer Anthropologie is well-known for creating immersive and interactive displays using tons of smaller items that can be purchased individually. The customer can then reinterpret your design in their own space or home. How cool is that? John Regan of Twisted Stem Floral in Illinois had done this with terrariums for floral designs shown above. The eye-catching empty terrariums, which often include stained glass artwork, are openly displayed in stores which encourages his customers to explore the unique vessels and select one that speaks to them.

2.    Let them adventure in your cooler

How often do we casually enter our cooler with a client and invite them to explore? “Encourage the client to go into the cooler and see what speaks to them,” suggests Kari Smith AIFD of Bouquets in Denver. “This is the easiest way to ensure satisfaction. There is no interpretation, you can easily sense what their taste is.” If you do welcome visitors to your cooler, you might want to reorganize. My Darling Flowers in Sydney has a fab color-blocked cooler (shown above) for their customers. Color blocking your cooler is a huge plus for the millennial floral shopper. Yes, this may mean more buckets to scrub (no big deal with Oasis Floral Cleaner, but the results are spectacular). How impressive is the ribbon section at your wholesaler when its well-organized and displayed nicely? Emulate this in your cooler. Oasis Display Buckets are sleek, sturdy and work towards a cohesive look in lots of different sizes.

3.    Don’t be afraid to sell unfinished work

A well-stocked display cooler of ready-to-go designs is important with today’s busy consumers. “That said,” Kari says,  “there’s a whole new generation of buyers who are looking for a more experiential purchase. Millennials are buying more experiences than they are stuff.” By offering designs that are 75% complete, you allow the customer to customize the finishing touches themselves and get a more personalized bouquet. Start simply. Say you have a dozen long stem roses displayed in your cooler. Rather than design them traditionally with gypsophilia or other fillers, give the customer options as to how to finish it. Display the roses designed with a few small bud vases of filler or foliage options nearby. No matter what they decide to add to the design, they’re going to feel like they had a hand in creating it.

4.    Use Pinterest as a launch pad!

Photo: Amanda Mae Photography

Do I hear more groans? We have to remember that Pinterest is the best visual communication tool simply because it is collaborative.

Clients often have many disparate ideas for their special event, be it a wedding, funeral, celebration, gala or something else. Zeroing in on an aesthetic can be easy with a Pinboard. Just squint and generalize to see what’s common amongst the photos. Maybe it’s a particular flower or a texture or even just a mood. “Let them tell you their feelings, then relay what those emotions are going to cost,” Kari suggests. “We don't just sell arrangements. We sell expressions of ideas, emotions and magical moments.” We might see the same bridal bouquet inspiration photo dozens of times, but its how we put a new spin on a design that keeps a trend fresh. [rev_slider alias="attract-millennials-4"]

All these bouquets were inspired by a single prolific Pinterest image. Each time the designer puts their spin on the look.

5.    Let them lead—but make great suggestions

Sometimes the customer already has a good idea of what they’re looking to create yet know enough to hire a professional. Even if the design is simple enough, logistics and execution are our places to shine. We can take a seemingly simple idea and turn it into something remarkable, inventive and a rewarding creative experience for everyone.

Photo: Kari Smith AIFD

This process may involve Skype meetings or a walkthrough of a venue. But great suggestions, like Kari’s pool floats, are borne from those creative meetings. For this bouquet design for a sports celebrity, Kari had seemingly simple requests for a low design of bright and fine Thanksgiving flowers.

6.    Reuse event blooms and make it known!

With so many clients now being eco-conscious, it's more important than ever to have green business practices. You can use the Oasis Floral Foam Maxlife with enhanced biodegradability and find a way to reuse blooms from an event. Or you can give them away to those in need or to strangers, Lonely Bouquet style (abandoning a bouquet for someone to find). Reuse those flowers! If possible, do like Kari and rework arrangements to do double duty as with this rainbow pave used at two events in one weekend. Give them away or find an appropriate non-profit event they can be upcycled for.

Enjoy finding ways to serve a generation

These are just six ideas you can use to meet an important segment of customers on their terms. Give it a try. Once you and your team get started, you will likely come with additional ideas of your own. Already have some great ones working wonders for your store? Feel free to share them in the comments section. And have fun!

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