By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, CEIR Research Director
A recent AdAge article reported Walmart is the favorite retailer among Millennials, based on Infoscout data on purchase activity. This article quotes Walmart’s CMO Stephen Quinn admitting, “That kind of shocks a lot of people, including inside the company.”
The value-driven shopping nature of Millennials is not a surprise to me. It is consistent with research CEIR has conducted this year with young professional exhibitors, 2015 Young Professional Exhibitor Needs and Preferences Study. In this study, the top ranked reason why young professional exhibitors have advocated not exhibiting is due to their perception that it cost too much, 44 percent of those who have been involved in such decisions. And other top ranked reasons for advocating not exhibiting also speak to the importance placed on value based spending: perceptions an event has poor attendance quality or low attendance volume.
Young professional exhibitors by no means are negative about the exhibition channel, quite the opposite, nearly all surveyed young professional exhibitors find that exhibitions deliver unique value that cannot be fulfilled by other marketing or sales channels. The most popular aspects speak to the ROI, the ability to achieve multiple sales and marketing objectives in a compressed time period: engaging face-to-face with customers and prospects; engaging with a large number of a target audience in a compressed time period; as well as interacting with a wide variety of players including suppliers and others.
So organizers need to pay attention to this focus on value-driven purchasing NOW. This is not something that is a distant, future consideration. It is already the case that Millennials and Gen Xers surpass Boomers as the largest generations in today’s workforce. Their preferences are already beginning to drive exhibiting decisions and this influence will only grow as Boomers exit for retirement. The oldest Millennial is age 34 in 2015, an age when a professional can very likely serve in a managerial or executive role who makes such decisions.
To access CEIR’s report, go to 2015 Young Professional Exhibitor Needs and Preferences Study.