How Urban Outfitters is Capturing the Millennial Market

October 11, 2017
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You’ve likely heard the term “millennial” before (perhaps even in a post we’ve written), but have you ever wondered why these digital natives are making such an impact in today’s marketplace?

In order to truly understand the importance of this generational cohort, it’s important to know how it has been defined:

The millennial generation consists of individuals born between the years 1980-2000. There are 92 million millennials worldwide.
Goldman Sachs

Having surpassed the baby boomers as the largest living generation in the world, millennials are the future of consumers. With an estimated $200 billion in buying power in America alone, the businesses who listen to this up-and-coming generation will be more likely to secure customers for life.

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Millennials are the future of the marketplace. Dismissing their preferences may leave your brand in the past.

Multinational clothing company Urban Outfitters is a fantastic example of this principle at work. According to a study conducted by WWD, the company has been named one of the top two in popularity among millennials. So what is Urban Outfitters doing to garner the attention of this coveted cohort? We’re uncovering their secrets by taking a look at some of the key features of their marketing approach to the millennial generation.

Urban Outfitters Captures Millennials With Rewards

Millennials have grown up in a era of rapidly-advancing technology, which means they are fluent in the language of online and mobile shopping. In order for brick and mortar retail stores to keep up with these mobile moguls, omnichannel retention programs are critical to enhancing the customer experience. With 80% of millennials participating in at least one loyalty program, a rewards program is something that millennials have come to expect from the brands they choose to shop with.

Urban Outfitters’ flagship program, Urban Outfitters Rewards, is an online and mobile retention program that allows members to earn rewards for every purchase, social share, or visit to the physical store. The program is free to join and members can start receiving personalized offers, prizes, and discounts the day they sign up!

Urban Outfitters Rewards Program

One of the biggest draws to this program is the element of fun.  For millennials, fun is a driver of customer loyalty, and the Urban Outfitters Rewards program has no shortage of excitement. While points can be earned for common behaviours such as purchases and social actions, members can also earn by attending exclusive events, entering contests, or reading the UO blog.

Over and above the draw of these participation-worthy actions, Urban Outfitters also includes a variety of experiential rewards in their program. Rather than offering simple discounts or samples, Urban Outfitters allows members to redeem points for millennial-centric rewards like tickets to artist meet-and-greets, signed merch, and personalized prizes. This diversified rewards menu is in line with research that shows millennials value the ability to choose among a variety of rewards. The line-up provided by Urban Outfitters is sure to keep them on their toes.

In addition to the variety of ways to earn and redeem, Urban Outfitters Rewards keeps members engaged by making the tracking of points simple and actionable. The UO app provides members with a visually-appealing “tracker” that clearly communicates their progress toward their next reward, as well as details on how to keep earning and ways to redeem

Urban Outfitters Mobile Tracking

Key Takeaway: Relevant Rewards 🏆

Clearly the Urban Outfitters Rewards program was created with the millennial in mind. From the convenient mobile app and tracker, variety of ways to earn, and experiential rewards to redeem, Urban Outfitters hasn’t missed a beat in designing their program for today’s young adult.

Urban Outfitters Captures Millennials With a Social Community

The average millennial spends approximately six hours a week on social media. For a generation that is constantly sharing and consuming content online, it’s no surprise that 62% of millennials state that they are more likely to become loyal customers when brands engage with them on social networks.

How to Build a Rewards Program for Different Generational Cohorts
Customer loyalty isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Design a rewards program for the ages by understanding the differences between generational cohorts.

Urban Outfitters has successfully developed a strong online community by facilitating two-way communication between their brand and customers on a variety of platforms. With a combined social following of over 9 million people on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Snapchat (among others), Urban Outfitters is no stranger to online engagement.

Urban Outfitters Twitter Engagement

By coining their own product-related hashtags and encouraging user-generated content across platforms, the retailer has truly developed an online community of fans who love their brand. Not only does Urban Outfitters build relationships with millennials by maintaining an online voice that is approachable and relatable, the company also encourages social engagement in multiple ways. Using the hashtags #UOOnYou, #UOMens, #UOHme, #OUBeauty, or #UOMusic, fans of UO have the opportunity to be featured on the brand’s home page, while also earning rewards for social engagement. This incentivizes social interaction in two ways:

  1. It encourages followers to interact with the brand on social media through the promise of rewards
  2. It motivates customers to reach the status of a “featured’ user

This approach has set Urban Outfitters up for long-term social success with millennials. Beyond the consistent flow of user-generated content that this strategy delivers, Urban Outfitters has guaranteed stable digital word-of-mouth marketing for their brand and rewards program with minimal heavy lifting on their end. Because 80% of millennials believe that user-generated content is a good indicator of a brand's quality, this strategy is sure to incite loyalty and trust toward Urban Outfitters.  

Urban Outfitters Community

Key Takeaway: Social Strategy 📱

When you consider its expansive reach, it’s clear why Urban Outfitters’ social media strategy was ranked 12th in the world by L2’s Digital IQ Index. Their commitment to engaging with customers online, their relatable online voice, and encouragement of user-generated content has millennials hooked on their brand.

Urban Outfitters Captures Millennials By Being Responsive 

It’s a well-known fact that millennials want their voice to be heard by the brands they choose to shop with. 64% of millennials believe that companies should offer ways for consumers to share their opinion, and as a result they expect these brands to not only be open to their opinions but also willing to change. Urban Outfitters is no exception to the rule, and they’ve made a commitment to adjusting their methods based on millennial demands.

A lot of this is through feedback.  Urban Outfitters consistently encourages and monitors customer feedback across their myriad of social channels. By fostering two-way communication on social media, responding to customer reviews, and using powerful platforms like Bazaarvoice to monitor brand conversations, no review goes unheard. Christine Doobinin, one of Urban Outfitters' home decor buyers, said it best:

We have to be sure that we’re providing the customer with the right product, and with the product information to make a satisfying purchase. They rely on us for that — and we rely on their feedback, so we can be sure they get exactly what they’re looking for.
Christine Doobinin, Senior Buyer at Urban Outfitters

The company receives weekly reports with the latest customer feedback and reviews, and then addresses any concerns to ensure that customers are always being served better.
Urban Outfitters Review
A stunning example of Urban Outfitters’ response to a shift in consumer needs was the
introduction of home showrooms in each of their retail stores. When the company recognized that millennials were moving out of their parents’ homes and furnishing their own apartments, they jumped on the opportunity to fit their unique needs and tastes. Today, most Urban Outfitters’ stores feature a line of curated home decor pieces that are just as trendy and eclectic as the market they’re intended for. From neon “slay” signs to traditional glassware, Urban Outfitters offers what millennials want for each stage of life as they progress from college dorms to apartments and homes.


Urban Outfitters Showroom

Key Takeaway: Loud and Clear  📣

At Urban Outfitters, the opinions of millennials are heard loud and clear. The company takes time to prompt feedback, listen, and respond to the market as needs shift. The result? A generation who feels like their voice counts to the company, and brand loyalty that follows suit.

A Strategy Fit For Millennials

While the millennial market presents challenges for brands who don’t understand their needs, this cohort also presents opportunities for businesses to create a more engaging marketing strategy.  Urban Outfitters has demonstrated the profitability of a millennial-centric marketing campaign by placing importance on what’s important to their target market: retention programs, social media interaction, and their voice as customers.

While many millennials may not be buying homes any time soon, they are buying from Urban Outfitters. Are they buying from you?

The Ultimate Guide to Customer Retention
A small lift in retention can mean big profits for your business. Keep customers coming back like Urban Outfitters with our free guide.