Customer acquisition is about much more than just discounting these days. And that concept was front and center for retailers at NRF’s Big Show this week. Especially as younger consumers step up to the (shopping) plate, forming emotional, more personal connections with them is becoming increasingly important. Millennials are actually more likely to purchase from a brand they feel they can trust and Gen Z’s are also looking for more engagement with the brands they care about. From young retailers like Outdoor Voices to more traditional merchants such as The Home Depot, making moves that resonate with customers and go beyond just sales announcements is key to gaining a loyal following. For Tyler Haney, CEO and founder of Outdoor Voices, social media (and specifically Instagram) is a big part of forming that more meaningful relationship — and the brand does so by talking to customers “like a best friend” and even soliciting advice, which they use for inspiration further down the line. “I think that’s super powerful when thinking about Nike, Under Armour and Lulu where product development, for example, is reserved for 15 guys in lab coats and it’s only brought to you once it’s fully baked,” Haney said during a panel. “At OV, where we’ve found a lot of traction and people really want to get involved in the conversation is around product development.” These kinds of brand-consumer interactions are incredibly helpful in forming brand loyalty, according to Haney, but it’s not as easy as asking for advice and then ignoring customer responses. A key component at Outdoor Voices is reaction time — making sure that customers feel like they’re able to have a conversation with the brand if they want to — and that kind of fluid relationship can have serious benefits. Read more at Retail Dive.