The surprising things millennials love -- and hate

Black friday teens shoppingChris Franz/Getty ImagesTeens shop in Fargo, North Dakota on Black Friday.

Retailers are obsessed with millennials. Stores are consistently trying to cater to this generally elusive demographic.

Sometimes, when retailers try so desperately to lure this desirable (albeit generally broke) demographic, they make bizarre mistakes. Other times, they get it right.

Here’s what retailers do that millennials love — and hate.

Hit: Gourmet Pizza

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

'You may have three roommates. You may not own a house ... But you can splurge and get a really awesome pizza,' millennial expert and marketing strategist Jason Dorsey of The Center for Generational Kinetics told Business Insider earlier this summer. 'And added to this great equaliser (is) uniqueness, which is just fabulous.' These specialty pizza places include up-and-coming restaurant chains like Pieology, Blaze Pizza, and Chipotle's Pizzeria Locale.

Miss: Pseudo-gourmet pizza

Pizza Hut
Pizza Hut's new 'Garden Party' pizza, as part of the biggest brand overhaul in the brand's history.

Remember when Pizza Hut attempted to overhaul its business and cater to millennials by offering pseudo-gourmet toppings like honey Sriracha sauce and Peruvian cherry tomatoes -- and it totally backfired?

'Unfortunately, we haven't been as effective as we've liked with our marketing and need to balance its appeal to millennials with mainstream pizza customers,' Greg Creed, CEO of parent company Yum Brands, told investors at a conference covered by Nation's Restaurant News.

This summer, the company got back to its over-the-top roots with the ridiculous hot-dog crust pizza.

Hit: Fast casual food

Millennials preferred dining option? Fast casual. It's easy, it's quick, it's cheap, and it's healthier than traditional than traditional fast food (think: McDonald's -- even though millennials really do eat there, they just don't want you to know it). Chipotle is the beacon of fast casual food, with its focus on sustainability and high-quality of products.

Miss: Not having free wi-fi in your cool restaurant

Lyndsay Hemphill/Business Insider
You can get free wifi in Taiwan at most tourist attractions

'Millennials also do not like retail experiences where free wi-fi is expected but not offered. While this may not be expected in an apparel store it's absolutely expected at a restaurant,' Dorsey said.

Hit: not having to talk to people (or using emojis instead)

Public domain

'(The( best example is Domino's pizza where over 50% of their orders are now placed through technology. They introduced 'Dom' your virtual pizza ordering assistant and you can order pizza using a certain emoji on Twitter. Brilliant! Now millennials can order without having to talk to a human and via the technology they're likely already accustomed to using for everything else,' Dorsey explained.

Miss: Your boring app


'Millennials also aren't going to download your mobile app just because you made one,' Dorsey said. 'So many retailers invested in mobile apps, but unless the apps solves a problem -- such as easy to redeem coupons or member-only specials -- millennials are not going to download another mobile app.'

Up for grabs: Selfies


Macy's new millennial-oriented floor, One Below, has a wall dedicated to selfies. It's no secret millennials are obsessed with taking photos of themselves.

Some credit card companies (and thereby retailers) are betting on the fact that selfies could be the future of mobile payments.

It's up for grabs if taking selfies will catch on as a payment method.

Hit: Social conscientiousness

Brands like TOMS and Warby Parker thrive because they are socially conscientious. Millennials care where their money goes (for the most part). A Goldman Sachs study from this spring revealed that brands with a 'story' -- like the aforementioned companies -- were likely to make lots of money from millennials.

Hit: Speed


Millennials don't have patience. That's why they love fast casual dining -- it gives them food that's higher quality than its fast food counterpart, but still at lightning fast speed.

Hit: Nostalgia

joey cato

'Brands that play to nostalgia, are organically produced and deliver zero waste are proving highly successful in traditional retail channels even in crowded, well established markets,' Dorsey said.

Miss: Relying on old standards

'The #1 mistake retailers make when it comes to millennials is expecting that what worked 10 years ago works now. Millennials have more retail options that any consumer in history, more product options than any consumer in history and they have the least established loyalty. The net result is the upside is huge for retailers who adapt to what millennials want and the downside is huge for retailers who don't,' Dorsey explained.

Hit: Great advertising and marketing

Business Insider / Matthew Lynley

'One great example is Dollar Shave Club. They removed the hype around razors and simplified buying and re-ordering by brilliantly spoofing how people think about their razor,' Dorsey said.

Hit: A level of local exclusivity

'Millennials also like retail that creates more of a boutique, exclusive experience. This could range from Shake Shack offering a limited number of hamburgers for a single day made by a celebrity chef or it could a pop up retailer that is only open one weekend and then gone. Millennials love exclusivity, limited time experiences and a local-centric feel -- even if that means the burger is only offered at one location,' Dorsey explained.

Miss: Being too cool for school

Even though the brand is posed to be the comeback kid of the year, Abercrombie's notorious reputation ruptured the retailer's relationship with millennials. By being the 'cool kid' and not catering to anyone else, Abercrombie found itself rejected by morally discerning millennials. ' Once a high flyer with Millennials at a pivotal life stage, as the brand got a reputation for only catering to a small segment of the generation based on body type -- true or not -- and that was reinforced by the CEO's comments about who is clothes were made for, Millennials left in droves and haven't returned,' Dorsey said.

Hit: Organic, local food and quinoa and ancient grains

Millennials care where their food comes from.

'Millennials are more aware of quality of ingredients, and they want transparency. They'd like to know that they were sourced locally,' Dean Small, CEO of Synergy Consultants, told Business Insider this summer.

Got gluten free options? Even better. Earlier this summer, Jason Dorsey pointed out that for millennials, when you incorporate components like 'gluten free (crust) and ancient grains ... it almost represents what you believe.'

Miss: Being called a millennial

AP Images/Mike Harrington

A recent study from Pew Research Study said that millennials hate being called retailers that want to cater to millennials should probably refrain from calling them that.

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