For us, the 4th of July weekend was rainy with no breaks for fun on the beach. Our annual family gathering, which usually takes place outside at Madeira Beach, Florida, had turned into a cocooning event spread out over several condominiums overlooking gray skies and a turbulent Gulf of Mexico. My nieces and nephews, ranging in age from 22-30, were starting to get cabin fever by the second day when one piped up and said “let’s go to Target!”
These college graduates in their first post graduation jobs all agreed in unison with great enthusiasm. I had to ask: “What are you going to Target for?” Their response? “We don’t need anything; we just like to shop there. We like to look at what’s on sale, buy toothpaste and anything else that may be a bargain.” Well, I looked at them like they were speaking a different language and had to get to the bottom of this strong customer loyalty that Target had created in this Millennial Generation. Next question: “Why Target? Why not the other mega retail stores?” Now they were looking at me like I had two heads. “Aunt Jana, we don’t go there.” I won’t convey their reasoning but if you have ever searched the mega retailers by name on YouTube for visual entertainment, you will understand their sentiment.
At this point, it was their turn to question me, the one sitting on the fence between the baby boomer generation and generation X. “So Aunt Jana, where do you buy your toothpaste and deodorant?” My response, of course, was the grocery store. Okay, I got the two headed look again**. In a final attempt to understand this fascination with Target, I inquired again, “What is so special about Target?” My nephew responded, “Aunt Jana, when we all started college and had to furnish our dorm rooms, Target had packaged together everything we needed: a comforter and sheets, a tall mirror, dorm approved microwave and other stuff. It was so convenient and the stores are clean.”
Yes, they used this word and being a clean store was important to them. Add to that Target’s convenient locations near most major universities in Florida (and probably nationwide) and their extended hours and you have a winner as far as college students are concerned. It seems that Target has effectively captured the attention of the freshman college student, managed to keep their attention throughout the student’s college career and secured a loyal following with this generation as they enter their first job/apartment/house.
How can this information be used to develop a customer base for real estate companies? Can effective marketing and delivery of multiple services (real estate, mortgage, title, insurance, home warranty) neatly bundled together to the Millennial Generation be the competitive edge needed to capture and retain this generation of first time home buyers? Is there something else unique that real estate companies located in college towns do to cultivate these same college students with the goal of turning them into loyal customers once they get that first job/apartment/house? If it takes on average of five years (average time to get college degree) for Target to create these dedicated customers, how does this translate for the average real estate broker and their customer outreach program?
The tastes and preferences of the Millennial Generation will most likely change once significant wealth accumulates, and only time will tell if this steadfast faithfulness to Target will fade. In the meantime, Target will continue to enjoy the strong loyalty and purchasing power of the Millennial Generation, or at least the allegiance of those in my family!
*(Minneapolis-based Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT; © 2010 Target.com. All rights reserved. The Bullseye Design and Target are registered trademarks of Target Brands, Inc.)
**Apparently, my nieces and nephews don’t shop for groceries at a grocery store – they go to the gourmet market which offers primarily food items. Their food buying/consuming habits are a customer loyalty story for another day!
Posted By: Jana Coleman