We know that Millennials are the largest generation in history, representing 92 million U.S. consumers in their prime spending years, and controlling more than $600 billion in annual purchasing power.1Millennials Coming of Age. Goldman Sachs. 2015. 2Everything Guide to Millennials. Vision Critical. 2016. These tech-savvy, assertive shoppers are such an influential cohort that they are forcing the retail and CPG industries to understand and adapt to their needs more than any other generation.

Millennials are a different consumer with a different shopping need and retailers are taking note! Store buyers are adapting their buying habits to ensure the brands on their shelves speak to this type of consumer. Retailers are focusing on a brand’s “story”–what a new brand is all about, what it stands for, who the founders are, and what the driving force was behind the creation of the product. This need was generated entirely by Millennial consumers, because these are the things they care about most, and what greatly influences their shopping experiences and purchases.

Nine years ago when I was launching new products to market at big CPG companies, all the retailers would ask us during the innovation pitches is how much we were spending to support the brand launch on TV and in print. Today, working closely with retailers I see that there has been a huge shift: now they are interested in how much “ground swell,” or social media presence and influence, a brand has. We know–and have seen–successful emerging brands can launch solely from a clever social media campaign, generating significant levels of awareness. Retailers know this too, and it heavily weights their decisions when evaluating the right brands for their shelves.

The sway over CPG that Millennials have isn’t going to dissipate any time soon. Retailers are right to immerse themselves in the Millennial mindset in order to better unite with this very ambitious and significant generation. Millennials champion individualism and originality, they welcome products that inspire emotion and help them feel a sense of connection. As retailers act on the need to incorporate brands that tighten this connection, having a brand’s story in their pocket can help them choose the products that will best meet Millennials’ wants and needs.

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