This is the year that, according to U.S. Census Bureau, Millennials are expected to surpass Baby Boomers in number, becoming the nation’s largest living generation. For some brands, Millennials have been the single most important economic force for a while already, if this not yet true for your brand, then it is about to be: this same demographic will spend more than $200 billion annually by 2017.

This is the generation that has grown up with technology as a continual presence; according to Pew Research, Millennials cite technology more than any other factor as defining their generation. Millennials’ very specific expectations and requirements from brands have given rise to the notion that the experience is the brand, that—however powerful any given brand’s media reach, however creative its campaigns—only the experience the brand enables will resonate with the customers that matter. And those are the ones who spend both time and money with a brand, those who engage.

Brands today only really thrive in the fleeting, personalized, adaptive, and increasingly chaotic moments of interaction that occur between companies and people. For brands aiming to engage a generation that switches between platforms up to 27 times an hour while expecting relevance and coherence at every interaction, new enabling technologies are key to creating those experiences, any time, anywhere. This is the driver behind Capgemini’s Mobile2Store solution, for example, which enables retailers to create seamless and personalized interactions such as real time and location-based offers, including loyalty point redemption, via a single app. (We’ll be launching Mobile2Store at IBM’s upcoming Amplify event; you can find out more here).

Closely coupled with customer experience is customer loyalty. And that’s an area that’s not exempt from the ‘Millennial effect’, either. Our recent study “Fixing the Cracks: Reinventing Loyalty Programs for the Digital Age” explores what customers think about brands’ efforts to engage them through the lens of a retailer loyalty program. The first key finding is that customers are only interested in loyalty as a fully integrated extension of the brand relationship. The second is that the mobile device should be the hub of a customer’s relationship with a retailer. However, only 24% of companies surveyed allowed loyalty program redemption through mobile. This double disconnect must change, if retailers are to woo Millennials now and keep them close for life.

Why? Because no technology is closer to the Millennial’s heart than mobile. Mobile is especially critical in the retail environment, because it’s effectively the remote control that allows customers to manage their experience with a brand. Consider that more than twice as many Millennials as non-Millennials use their mobile to research products and read user reviews while shopping. From now on, your customers will choose you over your competitors if they can easily handle the full breadth of their relationships with you over touch-points, over time and over fulfillment channel. If not, say ‘goodbye’.

For retailers, all aspects of the customer relationship—from browsing to purchasing to engaging in multiple ways in multiple places, to collecting, managing and redeeming rewards—must be designed and delivered for mobile, as a priority. Google recently changed their search algorithm to favor mobile-ready sites in search results. This is a huge indicator of a wider mindset shift that will herald an era of mobile-only experience design and enablement. For brands, whether or not to adopt this mindset could mark the difference between engaging Millennials—or turning them off.

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