Not too long ago, there was an article circulating around my LinkedIn feed, identifying Millennials as lazy, technology abusers who had little appreciation for hard work in comparison to Baby Boomers and Gen X. Bewildered by this misrepresentation of the entire generation, I undertook a quick Google search finding out that that is is a common stereotype that needs to be further understood, particularly by businesses. If businesses are using this representation to base around their marketing and hiring their people, they will be disappointed by the results.
According to researchers Neil Howe and William Strauss – Gen Y is a thing of the past. That generation has now been modified and classed as Millennials in case you missed it. So, what is a Millennial? According the The Atlantic, the indefinite answer is that they are the population who were born between the years of 1982 and 2004.
Why do I think Millennials are the untapped market for most businesses?
In 2015, Millennials made up the majority of the workforce of the US – boasting 35% with Gen X and Baby Boomers each only providing 31%. There is a growing number of Millennials and research shows that they will live longer. They are here, and are here to stay.
Stereotypes lead people to believe Millennials are ‘young’ and in comparison they might be, but aren’t as young as you might think. The oldest Millennials are around 39 – they are getting married, having children, buying homes and are major reference groups for their aging parents and grandparents. The youngest are around 16 years old, working, learning to drive and making purchase decisions.
Millennials are here to stay. What does this mean for business? This market is the generation of the present and of the future and are your present and future clients and customers. To ensure the longevity of an enterprise, managers and executives must consider what this market wants and how they can best provide it.
How Can Your Business Connect with Millennials?
To understand how to connect to them, it’s important to first understand why they connect.
Millenials have had the luxury and the annoyance of accessing news and information at their fingertips for some time now. They have grown up being more aware than other generations about the problems facing the world and have been educated, knowing that they have a responsibility to induce change if they want to see it happen. They want to connect with business they trust, and those they trust are those who have a genuine interest in the well-being of others. Engaging with such businesses allows customers to feel safe and like they are contributing for the better. They will align themselves with those businesses who share their values. Trust is the currency of Millennials and social responsibility builds trust between a business and a consumer.
Put this into perspective. The average working day is 8 hours long. If one of your employees was to take one day per month off to volunteer their time to charity or a cause they felt passionate about, they would only have to come in to work half an hour early each day to make up this time. Millennials respond to purpose driven decisions, not ‘just because’ actions.
See Value of the Experience
Millennials don’t purchase a product, they purchase an experience, they evaluate the service they receive as much as they evaluate the product. Millennials have grown up having in their possession an abundance of ‘things’. Whether that be food, technology, clothes – their parents have wanted everything for their children and it has been accessible. That has meant they have been immersed in consumption. Millennials have a need to consume and that has now gone beyond the mere product or service – they expect to consume more.
This means creating both an experience in the discovery and lead up to product purchase, as well as through consumption, into the evaluation stage. The satisfaction of Millennials is not black and white, they critically analyse a multitude of variables and they have high expectations. Tactful channel strategy is the only approach in which you can use to succeed, allowing you to provide exactly what they want, at the right time.
Embrace the Sharing Economy
Give and take takes on an entirely new meaning when marketing to Millennials. They don’t expect something for nothing, they are willing to pay a price and as mentioned before, trust is their currency. They will share resources and knowledge for the same in return, but still understand business. ‘Old School’ values still apply in this generation; they are just a bit more tactful about it. Use is more valuable than ownership. They have enough ‘stuff’ having ‘stuff’ is no longer deemed as high a priority as possessions were in generations before.
Provide them with information. Provide them with an experience. Provide Millennials with a connection. They want to be free to make decisions and use as they please, empower them with the resources to be able to do that. Introducing groups and being able to share resources among community members will drive this. It may be a networking group, an online course, it may be a community garden, it may be a co-working space – the solution will be different for every business but collaboration is key.
Be a Transparent Business
By this I mean, have answers to questions. Millennials have been bought up and educated to critically analyse decisions, question authority and the media to the find the truth. Millennials are information hungry and they need information to make an informed decision. Without it, they simply won’t purchase.
Answer their questions before they are asked. Millennials want to understand your business, and feel like they are a part of it. They will do this by getting to know your people. A face exposes years of experience, don’t hide behind a logo. Be accessible with direct phone numbers to people to provide a personalized service. Ensure your employees are on social media – connect with clients and customers where appropriate and build loyalty through a relationship. You can’t just talk the talk, you must walk the walk because Millenials will see through the insincerity.
There are some amazing examples of businesses marketing themselves to Millennials at the moment, including P&O. The quite traditional cruiser liner company has adopted many of the above tactics in the past however just today it was announced that they have aligned themselves with startup and social beer enterprise The Good Beer Co, in support of the Great Barrier Reef’s conservation. P&O offer The Good Beer Co brews on board each of their ships and half the profits go towards supporting the Australian Marine and Conservation society. Read more about it here.