Know your customer is the first rule of business. Millennials, huge in population numbers, are our new generation of parents. While individually, they may tell you they don’t like to be categorized, recent studies have shown as a consumer demographic, distinct patterns are emerging. Millennials are proving to be extremely knowledgeable, discriminating consumers who are more than willing to break with tradition, and who expect a lot from those who sell to them.
According to a new book, “Millennials with Kids” by Jeff Fromm and Marissa Vidler, these children of the Baby Boomers want products that make their lives “faster, better, easier, and more efficient.” They tend to be price conscious, responsive to special offers, and want a lot of personalization and customization. They also take time to research and network to ensure that they get just what they want. If you’re a company or entrepreneur who gets that right, and you provide great customer service, then Millennials are likely to be extremely loyal to your brand. Get it wrong at your peril because they won’t be shy about voicing their displeasure.
The choices they’re making in their careers and lifestyle are helping us understand them as future consumers. At work, one very clear indicator is that maintaining a work-life balance is of primary importance for this age group, and many are prepared to trade financial gain for pursuing their passions and having more control of their time. Two top concerns according to a study entitled, “Millennials as New Parents,” are about environmental issues and about the foods they give their children. The same study shows that in contrast to “helicopter parents” who raised a lot of Millennials, these young parents want their own children to have more free time for unstructured play.
Often cited as one of the most socially compassionate generations, more than half surveyed by Fromm said they “try to buy products that support causes or charities.” Among the things they want to teach their children is that possessions aren’t important to keep you happy. This is consistent with lifestyle choices being made to choose smaller homes, live closer to cities with better transportation, and opting to share and reuse rather than buying.
In terms of family, a Pew study found this demographic willing to challenge traditional thinking about what a family is – in terms of gender, dual or single parenting, parental roles and even the importance of children over marriage. In fact, fifty-two percent said “being a good parent is “one of the most important things” in life; while only thirty percent said the same about having a successful marriage.
But the group is huge and growing – almost at thirty percent of the population, and a new report by Goldman Sachs says, “the rise of this new generation has sent marketers into a frenzy,” anticipating enormous sums they are expected to spend on their kids.
As consumers, preference is for companies or individuals that have “authentic narratives and share their world view,” according to Goldman Sachs. Millennials develop personal affinity for products and brands and this along with the “leveling force of social media, has given a newfound upper hand to smaller, social media-savvy upstarts that are able to use grassroots marketing to push boutique-style products with an aura of social responsibility or healthiness.”
Skeptics contend that this will change when Millennials settle down, but many say they’re playing a new game thanks to technology and social media, that places great importance on ensuring that their voices are heard and that they can effect change to get what they want. “Millennials see technology not just as a device or platform for communication but as a way to improve life, make better choices, and contribute to society….Brands that have a social media presence, manage a user-friendly website, and engage their customers with relevant, fresh content have a greater chance to impact Millennial purchasing decisions,” reports “Entrepreneur.”
“Creating a forum for this group to communicate and share their opinions with each other can create loyal followers and increase sales.” Then hold onto your seat because, as the technology consulting group Accenture concludes its recent report, “we believe retailing will change more in the next five years than it has in the last 50.” And the key to success is in providing a consistently personalized, on-brand experience.