What Millennial Men Want From Retailers Now

Forbes

By Richard Kestenbaum

September 7 2017

There’s a number of new reports, some released this morning, about the elusive millennial man (ages 20-35) and what motivates him. As millennial men age, their tastes evolve. Millennials are now the largest age cohort in the U.S. population and how they change as they get older has a big impact on American retailers.

The Doneger Report

A report by the Doneger Group presented recently at Magic, a fashion industry trade show operated by UBM Fashion, describes a study they ran with 350 men about their style.

Roberto Ramos, SVP of Global Strategy and Creative Services at the Doneger Group said, “The modern American guy wants to attain ‘chill guy’ status, a relaxed way of showing his individuality to stay ahead in work, life and love. He’s more expressive than ever and open to brands and retailers that can help him find his groove.”

Doneger asked the men what “style” means to them.

  • 48% said style means self-expression
  • 33% said style means “a pain”
  • 16% said style is “a necessity/tool to get ahead”

Interestingly, men 18-29 were more likely to think of style as self-expression and men over 60 were more likely to think of style as a pain. A majority of men (57%) thought of their style as “basic.” The Doneger folks say that “Dadcore,” one type of basic, is trending. (Dadcore is what they’d call the fashion of the men in the two pictures at the top of this paragraph.) Only 17% of men thought of themselves as “stylish.”

When asked whose style they liked best, almost half of men (48%) said George Clooney, about a quarter (27%) said Ryan Gosling and 13% said Donald Trump. But they differed a lot by age. Men 18-29 were much more likely to say Ryan Gosling, middle-aged men were more likely to say George Clooney and older men were more likely to say Donald Trump.

The largest number of men said the way to express their style is with a shirt. But almost as many men and far more younger men (18-29) said the way to express their style is with a haircut. A smaller amount said they express their style with a suit and tie. The haircut statement says a lot about the challenge of the fashion business, especially among younger men, and the growth in perceived value of experiences versus things.

By far the most important influencers of men’s styles is their significant other. The second most important are retail stores. But for millennial men, significant others and retail stores had about the same level of influence. That’s pretty surprising considering that millennials have a reputation for shopping online, yet they say they are very heavily influenced by what they see in retail stores.

For what it’s worth, 12% of men said the most important influence on their style was their dad.

Where do men shop? Forty-five percent prefer to shop in department stores but only 33% of men 18-29 prefer department stores. Surprisingly, 45% of all men prefer to shop online but only 37% of men age 18-29 prefer to shop online. That tells me there’s an opportunity for physical stores to recapture millennial men if they offer the right mix of product, entertainment, demonstration, food and fun.

Brand names are not as important as they used to be. Only 18% of men say that a brand would make them spend more for something they buy. Much more important to men is quality materials and functionality.

The Engagement Labs Report

Unlike their reputation, millennial men are not just about themselves. According to a report being released today by Engagement Labs, millennial men have high interest and are important influencers of purchases of products that older generations of men have not shown any interest in, including:•

  • Beauty products
  • Apparel
  • Household products

Who are these men? They are people with large real-world social networks and people who frequently give advice about products and services. These influential men have 19 conversations per day with other people about brands. (By contrast, the average person is involved in a conversation about brands nine times per day.) These men, whom Engagement Labs calls Conversation Catalysts, are early adopters of consumer products and have a high social value for brands.

This chart makes it clear:

The peak of the blue line shows how much more influential millennial men of about 30 years old are than all other men and almost all other women (only young teen girls are higher). That’s new and different, there have never been as many men with the interest and desire to be influential about consumer products as these millennial men and they make up over 15% of the population, higher than in any other cohort. They are 50% more likely than millennial women to be influencers.

Young men are almost 70% more likely than other men to be influential in beauty products and almost 50% more likely to be influencers in apparel products. Millennial men are now almost as likely as their female peers to discuss beauty and apparel products. What’s so interesting about that to me is that if you stand in a Sephora or Ulta store you can see almost no men shopping. There’s a huge opportunity in beauty retail to create an environment where men are comfortable.

Millennial men talk about more about the brand Children’s Place, 157% more than all men combined. They talk 145% more about the skin care brand Nivea than all men combined and they talk more about Barbie 125% more than all men combined. This is a marked change in habits.

“Our report highlights several really important things for marketers," says Ed Keller, CEO of Engagement Labs. "The first is the growing importance of peer-to-peer influence as a key driver of sales for brands. The second is that real world conversations matter as much or more to the millennial generation as social media. And the third is that while historically, many marketers have focused on women as the consumers with the most influence in the consumer marketplace through their knowledge and brand advocacy, that is no longer a correct strategy. Our data clearly illustrate that when it comes to the millennial generation, who are the target of so much interest by marketers, the pendulum has shifted toward young men.”

The Coupon Follow Report

One thing about millennials that’s not surprising. According to a study recently released by CouponFollow, 72% of millennials use their smartphone more often than they use their computer. They’re pretty happy with their smartphone too. Millennial Apple iPhone users and Samsung Galaxy users all say they are 94% likely to repurchase their existing brand of phone the next time they buy. But with prices on new versions of those phones expected to rise substantially, Apple and Samsung are testing the limits of millennials’ loyalty.

“Most companies think millennials lack brand loyalty, but our report shows the opposite," says Michael Parrish DuDell, Chief Strategy Officer of CouponFollow. "However, smartphone makers run the very serious risk of alienating their most passionate consumers with such exorbitant prices. With the iPhone 8 and Galaxy Note 8 each breaking the $1,000 barrier, Millennials may be left with no choice but to put budget over brand.”

Where This Goes

Men are changing. Their attitudes about products, their interest in brands and consumer products, especially fashion and beauty products, are different than ever before. For millennial men, much different. They are not afraid to talk about products that men typically didn’t discuss in the past. They are interested in spending more time being involved with how they look and what products will help them. These changes are big opportunities for brands that can hold millennial men’s interests and give them what they want.