More and more people are avoiding the long lines and choosing to shop online.

The holiday season is here. A time for peace on Earth, goodwill to all, and maxing out the credit card. The hype around Black Friday (more recently known as “Gray Thursday”) is starting to fizzle. More and more people are avoiding the long lines and choosing to shop online. Don’t get me wrong, Black Friday is still a “thing.” However, in the last three years, the number of Black Friday shoppers has decreased from 92 million in 2013 to just over 74 million in 2015. It’s not that shoppers are spending less. As a matter of fact, holiday spending has actually been on the rise. In just the last few year’s consumers have increased their average spending from $700 to just over $850 per household.

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A Generation of Change

The generation of change is upon us. Gen X’ers are no longer the ones calling the shots when it comes to the market. The little neighbor boy you once knew is all grown up now, and he’s making more than just a weekly allowance. Millennials are becoming the driving force in today’s market. With over 200 billion dollars in annual buying power, they have the ability to influence how brands market themselves. Before we go any further, it’s important to understand who millennials are. The majority are highly educated, career-driven, politically progressive, and despite popular belief, tend to be brand loyal when presented with a quality product. A good example is Apple’s iPhone. Many of the early adopters who jumped on the iPhone band wagon are still loyal to the product. Millennials also tend to be early adopters, meaning they like to be the first to try new products. An estimated 56% of millennials report being one of the first groups to try new technology. As a brand, this puts tremendous pressure when launching a new product.

Allowing Our Voices to Be Heard

Social media has become a soap box for millions of people to share their opinions. It has become an amplifier for the average person to take a stand and let their voice be heard. A great example has been the aggressive battle between Black Friday and Gray Thursday. With growing opposition to stores opening up on Thanksgiving some stores are choosing to opt out. REI is a perfect example of this. They chose to develop a campaign urging people to get outside instead of shopping on Black Friday. #OptOutside has been a huge success for them and has really created a movement for those opposed to the idea of Black Friday. For those looking for reviews about a business or product, social media has also been an influential platform. Consumers no longer need to make an uneducated purchase. We are now able to share our own opinions, reviews and experiences through platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

A Future Driven by Influence

The future of many of the brands we know today will be determined in large part by the influencers we look up to. While quality and innovation remain important, other factors are also impacting the way we make our purchase decisions. Things like taking a stance on a political topic, or making a decision to donate a portion of their earnings to charity. Starbucks is no stranger to expressing their opinion. While this move has faced sharp criticism from some, others have praised them for taking a stance.

 

Have a product, service or brand that you like? Let your voice be heard. Write a review, post pictures, start a blog. By educating others you’re helping the next person who may be searching for information.

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