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Millennial women tend to have above-average household incomes and are estimated to collectively represent a market $170 billion in size, according to a report from Merkle and Levo [download page]. Young women aren’t afraid to put that purchasing power to use, as the study finds that not only are they more apt to make purchases during a given time frame, but also more likely to spend more than the average adult.

Part of the funding that fuels such spending comes from so-called side hustles, per the report. In fact, while 80% of the Millennial women surveyed were employed full-time, 40% reported having a side hustle. The primary reason for having one? Additional income.

Experiences Count

About 8 in 10 Millennial women occasionally indulge themselves with a big-ticket purchase, although they make sure they’re getting the best deal.

It seems that those big-ticket indulgences are often experiences. Almost half (45%) of respondents said that their biggest purchase over the past year was on experiences, and more than half (54%) said that would be the case in the next 12 months.

In fact, more than 7 in 10 said that spending on experiences makes them happiest.

This outlook is generally in line with other research suggesting that younger generations have an affinity for experiences over products.

The Brand Story Matters, Too

There are several factors that influence Millennial women’s purchase behaviors, and one highlighted in the report is the brand story.

An impressive 47% of respondents claimed to know the “origin story” of their favorite brand, and almost as many (41%) said they know the who the founders of their favorite brands are.

Part of the brand story also lies in its social commitment: many respondents pointed to a brand’s sustainability practices as an influence on them.

Encouragingly, most Millennial women surveyed feel that more brands are designing products with their needs in mind (81%) and that brands are listening and responding to their needs (70%).

The Primary Influencers: Price/Value, Reviews and the Brand

Given their intimate knowledge of their favorite brands, it’s not too surprising that elements relating to the brand appear on the list of Millennial women’s top purchase influencers.

These influences include the brand’s values and stance on issues (59%), an area where there is growing pressure on brands to speak up, the brand’s sustainability practices (45%) and the brand’s representation of diversity (42%). Having grown up with the brand (47%) is also important to Millennial women: a recent study found that 8 in 10 adults in the US are more likely to trust legacy brands.

But while the brand is important, so is the price and value. Fully 87% of Millennial women take into account prices when making purchase decisions, and 75% likewise look at the overall value.

Finally, reviews, recommendations and influencers aren’t to be discounted:

  • Fully 83% say that customer ratings and reviews influence their purchases;
  • 6 in 10 are influenced by recommendations from family and friends;
  • Word-of-mouth moves the needle for about one-third; and
  • Influencers and Instagrammers influence about one-quarter.

It’s also worth noting that while only 1 in 4 Millennial women said that influencers have sway over their purchase decision-making, a much larger number (62%) have tried a brand based on the recommendation of an influencer.

The full report is available for download here.

About the Data: The survey data is based on a survey of 884 Millennial women ages 18-37, with the majority (78%) ages 26-37 and the remainder ages 18-25.

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