Knowledge Bomb No. 17 - Gold Digging

In our 'You Don't Even Know Me' report last year, we put the spotlight on the myth of the homogenous ‘Millennial’ and demonstrated how different pushes and pulls associated with varying life stages (from High Schoolers all the way up to Young Families) impacted a whole range of purchase and lifestyle behaviours. Now with the first effects of Brexit-related price increases hitting consumers’ wallets, brands that charge a premium for their products will come under increasing pressure to justify their position.

In our latest report ‘Gold Digging: UK Millennials & Premium Brands’, we’ve explored a range of topics by applying a premium world lens across life stages. Our research has revealed some surprising insights around what makes this age group spend more on products and services.

What has emerged is a focus on ‘value’ for this cohort when it comes to premium purchases. While old school luxury brands could traditionally rely on aspirational ‘closed-off’ communications and a tight control over their messaging, this age group wants a more open, collaborative and ‘useful’ relationship with premium brands.

Trigger Happy 

If you thought that sales and discounts are the only way to trigger a premium purchase, think again. High Schoolers were 15% more likely than other life stages to trade up on their purchases as a reward on pay day, whilst Uni Students were 31% more likely to be driven to premium purchase via influencer recommendations. When it came to older Millennial cohorts, branded videos were most effective with Cohabiters (22% more likely than other life stages) whilst sales/discounts were most important to savvy-shopper Young Families (14% more likely).

Whilst there is no doubt that savvy shoppers are making sure they get the best deals and value even in premium purchases, brands must not forget the emotional/impulse cues that also lead to their products in shopping bags. More than 1 in 2 (52%) cited ‘pay day rewards’ as a trigger, whilst 47% said they traded up on purchases to ‘treat themselves’. Clearly, effectively timed campaigns and messaging delivered around such occasions and need-states stand to win over this audience.

Clicks & Mortar

The role of online and social in enabling premium retail purchase is significant - with 52% of our respondents preferring to buy premium products online versus in-store (48%).


Aside from the obvious use of online to read reviews and do price comparisons, the anytime/anywhere flexibility afforded by this channel matters in premium purchase - with 38% citing the ability to shop 24/7 outside store opening hours for their preference of online.

But the ‘in-store’ purchase experience still has the upper hand when it comes to fan the flames of ‘reward-centric’ psychological triggers highlighted earlier. The ability to immediately take away your ‘treats’ (and not waiting for delivery as in the case of online) was the reason 37% of this age group liked shopping in-store. More than 1 in 2 also citied touching/feeling the product in-store, highlighting how important experiencing the superior craftsmanship/finish of products is in the premium world. 28% of this age group is also looking for help/advice from in-store staff.

The Body Shop fully understood the importance of an innovative retail experience and wanted to make their stores retail destinations at key calendar moments throughout the year. Inkling’s solution for them was a rollout of in-store personalisation stations, allowing customers to purchase body butter with their (or their loved ones) name on the front of the packaging. This tech-innovation led approach to elevating the in-store experience underscores the fact that premium brands that ignore this all-important channel do so at their peril.

Keep Digging

These are just a few examples of the expectations and wants of the 18 to 34 year olds covered in our report Gold Digging. What is clear is that onus is on premium brands to consider the life stages of their audience and how they can contribute true ‘value’ to that equation to justify their mark-up.

Drop us a line to see how we can help your brand make credible and effective connections with your audience!