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Millennials Change How People Shop

Millennial consumers are shopping in a way that is very different from past generations.

“Millennials are now the largest segment of the population across the world. They are different in many ways. One element is they grow up with technology and therefore there’s something they manipulate incredibly well and incredibly quickly and efficiently,” said global retail analyst Christophe Jouan, chief executive officer of the Future Foundation.

He said millennials are shopping online and in the stores. On the Internet, shoppers expect a more personalized experience. They often use the chat feature and communicate with the seller. In the stores, some businesses are starting to use technology such as augmented reality to enhance the shopping experience.

Trends also are emerging from Chinese shoppers that are making analysts take note.

“What is fascinating about China is the pace of change in attitudes and behavior seems to be far quicker than other emerging markets such as India or Russia or Brazil, who are changing but not that quickly,” said Jouan.

Traditionally, more affluent consumers from China are brand conscious and will mainly buy international brands, but there is a growing number of Chinese millennials who are choosing not to wearing visible logos.

“I don’t really look at the brand. I like clothes that suit my tastes,” said Maggie Huo, a tourist from China who was shopping in the affluent city of Beverly Hills on Rodeo Drive.

Another Rodeo Drive shopper from China said quality is important to him, but not necessarily the brand.

“It [the brand] doesn’t really matter. If I like the style, I’ll buy it,” said Fan Yang.

The same goes for clothes that are made in China.

“I buy clothes that suit me. After I pay for, I may be curious and look to see where it’s made. But whether it’s “Made in China” or “Made in Indonesia,” it doesn’t really matter to me,” Huo said.

Moving away from the flashy brands to something more subtle is a sign that consumers from an emerging economy like China are maturing, said Sonu Shivdasani, founder of Soneva Resorts.

“The Rolls Royce goes. It’s all about showing you have taste and discernment so you might buy a silver BMW and go and shop at Armani. And stage three is experiential travel and so we’re starting to see that evolve in China.”

Whether it’s the Chinese or consumers from another country, Jouan said millennials are still price conscious. They often use technology to find the best prices and places to shop. Jouan said pricing will get more individualized, like a plane ticket.

“There’s no such thing as one price for all anymore. The price becomes much more a result of who you are as a person and how you’ve interacted with the brand in the past.”

The future may be filled with products with prices that are tailor made for each consumer, thanks to the personal data collected on the Internet.