The Millennial generation is rapidly growing into the largest shopping collective nationwide. Merchants find that offering trendy items at affordable prices, rewarding loyal customers, and being shrewd about social media helps bring this generation into their shops.
"Millennials like to see things online first through social media," says Brittany Tucker, owner of the Kid to Kid resale shop in Grapevine, Texas. "They want top brands for cheap. They are very fashion savvy, and want value."
Tucker's observations dovetail with national statistics. Millennials, people generally born between the mid 1980s to the mid 2000's, spend $600 billion annually.
"Millennial shoppers are extremely important to our business, considering they are the majority of parents in the economy right now," said Misti McCay, who owns three Kid to Kid resale in Texas with locations in Plano, Fort Worth, and Lake Worth.
Tracy and Bryant Schwegman, who own the Kid to Kid location in Frisco, agree.
"The majority of the moms we serve fall in to the 18-34 age group," Tracy said. "So, they are truly the backbone of our business."
To keep Millennials returning, Kid to Kid store owners in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have tapped into aspects of Millennial shopping trends. These trends include offering an environmentally-friendly experience, and appealing to the frugality of Millennial shoppers.
Store owners say Millennials want to buy fashionable items but they don't want to pay boutique prices. At Kid to Kid, customers can sell their own items for either store credit or cash. And, unlike consignment shops where a customer waits to get a percentage of the sale after the items have sold, at Kid to Kid, customers who sell their gently-used items get cash at the register, or 20 percent more in store credit.
Quality is paramount when taking in items at Kid to Kid. Clothing that doesn't meet resell quality standards are donated to a variety of charitable organizations within local communities. Customers also can get the tax credit form for charitable donations at the store, making selling and donating a one-stop operation.
This makes the shops both environmentally friendly by keeping used clothing out of landfills and socially conscientious by helping deserving charities. In North America, consumers are buying — and getting rid of — five times as much clothing as they did 25 years ago, reports Elizabeth Cline in her book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion (Portfolio, 2013). A staggering 85 percent of apparel ends up in a landfill — that's more than 10.5 million tons of clothing and equates to 80 pounds of clothing that ends up in a landfill from each man, woman, and child in the United States.
DFW Kid to Kid resale shops offer consumers an attractive alternative to purchasing new clothing that will eventually end in a landfill.
"They want everything easy and accessible," McCay said. "They buy according to trends so we keep those products out and easy to locate. They will skip a discount to get what they want right then. They shop in the now, not so much ahead."
So, understanding what Millennials need is crucial for merchants who want to meet their high expectations.
"The Millennials we see tend to be more interested in value than name brand," Schwegman said. "They are educated consumers who have likely researched what they want to buy, and where they want to shop, before they ever leave the house."
One of the main ways Millennials conduct research is going online. They compare costs among competitors, and they avidly read online reviews about a business or product they might want to use. A recent article by Small Business Trends notes that Millennials are extremely tech smart and that the majority — 78 percent — rely on online reviews. Significantly, online reviews are their biggest purchase decision influencers (78 percent) as well.
"When I first started in this business, social media was not a consideration for us," he said. "It was direct mail and mainstream mediums. Within about six years, we began engaging our customers on Facebook and then Instagram followed after that."
The Kid to Kid stores in DFW are constantly assessing the ever-changing landscape of marketing to meet the needs of their customers. They have launched a market-wide Pinterest account as well as starting a campaign to reach more young moms in Hispanic communities.
Customers can visit any of the brick and mortar locations to shop and donate, or go online to purchase. The Dallas/Ft. Worth area Kid to Kid locations also have an online marketplace, at www.dfwkidtokid.com, where customers can shop for clothing, toys, and accessories from all 15 Kid to Kid locations.