Ask Mickey: What Do Millennials Want When Shopping Beauty?

Introducing our new “Ask Mickey” column, featuring expert insights from Mickey Tortorelli, founder of BeauteSchool Inc. 


What do millennials expect from their beauty shopping experience?

Mickey says:

Millennials, our digitally savvy, self-confident and optimistic generation, also happen to make up our largest generation after baby boomers. While they’ve been stereotyped as the “Peter Pan” generation, millennials are growing in their spending power—making them the consumers who will drive the economy in the years ahead. No doubt, Generation Y is already influencing the way products are sold.

To cater the retail experience to this young demographic, it is important to recognize the inherent differences between them and older generations. Here are the top three distinct expectations that millennials have:

1. Instant Gratification

Unlike previous generations of consumers, who enjoy taking their time browsing in stores, millennials are superb multi-taskers who put a premium on efficiency. Their internal clocks and expectations are shaped by the instant gratification they’re accustomed to as a result of growing up with the Internet and smartphones. Speed and efficiency are of the utmost importance when it comes to responding to a millennial customer and offering product choices.

Be sure to keep up to date with the latest trending products and best-sellers, so you can respond to their inquiries quickly, without hesitation! Have a few tips and tricks up your sleeve as well, to give your customer new (and unexpected) ideas on how to use the products.

2. Connecting Through Their Values

While baby boomers are known for their consistent brand loyalty, millennials engage in what can be termed values-based buying. Twenty-somethings trade up and trade down, and are loyal to brands that share their values and evolve to meet the demands of their lifestyle. When millennials do business with a brand, they’re more likely than previous generations to care about the social values of that company—for instance, its level of social responsibility, eco-consciousness, and how ethically it does, or doesn’t, treat its own employees. 

Be familiar with each brand you’re selling—not only the product assortment, but also the company philosophy and values. For example: Are the products tested on animals? What causes or charities does the brand support? What is the company doing to minimize its carbon footprint? Your millennial customers would love to hear about these company values.

3. Speaking Their Language

Previous generations enjoy consultations that are professionally executed by beauty advisors and look to them for all beauty advice. While it’s still expected that the beauty advisor “knows it all,” Generation Y is also exceedingly informal and has different words and methods of communicating. Despite their love of mobile and online socializing, millennials also seek face-to-face interaction. They look to connect with a beauty advisor as a friend and confidant, and expect them to be extremely personable.

Don’t try to use a scripted sales method with a millennial customer, as this could detour them from looking for you the next time they shop. You must maintain a delicate balance between keeping your professionalism and speaking casually to form a connection with them.

Keep in mind that millennials are quick adopters—and even quicker droppers. Most don’t give second chances when it comes to customer service. If their first experience isn’t efficient and solution-based, they will move on.

Word of mouth spreads almost instantaneously, and with the power of social media, the potential for attention (good or bad) going viral is higher than ever before. Meet—or exceed—their expectations by being quick on your feet, helping them discover products that cater to their values, and forming a genuine bond!

Mickey Tortorelli, CTDP, is the CEO and founder of BeauteSchool Inc., Canada’s award-winning beauty training resource for industry professionals.

Heather Marrin