Garland Perkins
Garland Perkins

For years women have increasingly participated in the workplace and academia, and, as a result, the roles they fulfill in the household as well as their presence in the retail space have dramatically changed.

With substantial buying capability and unique shopping habits, females in the millennial generation are especially of interest.

According to The Pew Research Center, by 2012 the share of women age 25-34 in the labor force climbed to 74%, while men under the age of 35 have been trending in the opposite direction, steadily decreasing their participation over the past 30 years.

The mean income for women in this age range has also increased (26% since 1987), while the mean income for men age 25-34 has remained virtually unchanged, according to Census data. The future expenditures of millennial women are also projected to outpace that of previous generations.

Gen Y females tend to be discerning and contemplative when shopping. Rather than rushing buying decisions, they envision how an item will fit into their lifestyle and compare it to similar items.

Their concept of value is multifaceted with factors such as quality, price, efficient service and the overall shopping experience weighing into their purchase decision.

Many retailers have redesigned store layouts, equipping aisles with warm lighting, attractive color schemes and enticing samples. These efforts can particularly appeal to millennial women, where an enjoyable shopping trip will likely result in more time in the store and more money spent.

According to Nielsen, millennial women are also more inclined to shop for groceries on weekends. Retailers who emphasize an entertaining atmosphere on these days could receive an uptick in sales with this group, compared to women 55 years and older, who are more prone to shop during the week.

Gen Y females view messages from fellow consumers as more reliable than advertising that feels too corporate. This is understandable given their inclination toward social shopping, relying on recommendations from friends and family and social media review sites such as Yelp for buying valuations rather than traditional media like the radio or newspaper ads.

According to the marketing organization ContentLEAD, close to one-third of millennial women post product evaluations and opinions about their shopping experiences to assist others with similar pursuits.

The Pew Research Center also finds the majority of them spend at least an hour a day online, and, given their frequent coupon use and tendency to make emotional purchasing decisions, sending deals via e-mail or text is more likely to entice them to make a trip to the store in the near future compared to weekly ad circulars sent in the mail.

Gen Y females are a vital consumer group for the retail sector. They earn and spend a substantial amount of money, a trend that will only increase in the future.

They are a diverse group comprised of single and married females, with and without children, and therefore have varying needs and interests when it comes to food including quality, price, social responsibility and flavor, among other things.

Lastly, they often use social media as the basis of their purchasing decisions and post reviews online that influence other shoppers.

Millennial women expect a desirable shopping experience, one that warrants their time and meets their expectations for value.

Ultimately, positive reviews from these consumers will be imperative for retail success in the future.

Garland Perkins writes a monthly column on the produce industry from the millennial perspective. She works in sales and marketing for The Oppenheimer Group in its Los Angeles office.

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