Millennials are arguably one of the most controversial generations of the last century. They’ve been called lazy, arrogant, entitled, and a handful of other labels.
It’s no surprise then that millennials subscribe to a paradigm that preceding generations fundamentally disagree with. And although the dichotomy between different generations is nothing new, established businesses sometimes have trouble figuring out how to attract millennials as customers.
But the millennial generation isn’t an indecipherable enigma. Like every generation before them, millennials’ “who” is a breadcrumb trail of events that tell the story of their “why”, and for businesses trying to entice them, the “how”.
A Quick History
“One’s past is what one is. It is the only way by which people should be judged.”
Millennials’ social and economic environment was built upon the base of a volcano. From every direction, they heard and felt its rumblings, and every once in a while, they watched it explode. But they never blinked, because they saw the world change from the palm of their hand; the ceaseless chatter and implications never leaving their thoughts.
Things… big things, were happening every day.
They were children and teenagers in September of 2001 when the sky crashed down upon them. They were in college, pondering their astronomically high education debt, when the housing market crumbled to the ground. They grew up watching a war constantly end and begin, triumph and fail; caught in a loop with no end in sight.
The only foundation millennials had to build from was the intangible idea that almost everything, good and bad alike, lasted for a short, indeterminable amount of time.
They learned to treat their time like a currency, and their relationships like a vessel. Everything else was unreliable. They became a part of the ebb and flow of life, embracing the now and using the wind to guide them forward.
The Three Key Needs
Millennials’ whims aren’t random though, and can be used to create a loyal and passionate customer base. You just need to know what they want out of a service, beyond its intrinsic value alone.
We’ve compiled three core “passions” that many businesses already successfully use to convert millennials into customers, community members, and loyal friends.
1. Community & Engagement
Millennials crave a sense of community in almost every facet of their life. When they decide to do business with someone, whether as a partner or a consumer, a large part of their decision is based on if they like the business or person they’re dealing with. So, how can a business develop a friendship and not just a transaction?
What Does Your Business Stand For?
Let’s say we have a business that provides healthy foods, supplements, and products. Are they just a “Health Service Provider”, or are they a “Platform for a Healthier Body and a Happier Life”…? It’s easy to identify which business’s mission statement stands for something meaningful.
Your business must have a goal beyond just selling, and it needs to be clear, engaging, and personable. Millennials want to support and align themselves with businesses that stand for something they can believe in.
Millennials look for a balance between work and play. It’s critical that they aren’t missing out on important time with friends and family. Therefore, they love events that allow them to merge the two into one. When a business event can become something for the whole family, and not just a selling event, they feel like they’re getting more out of the relationship.
They also feel more passionate about the event when it means something on a deeper level. Millennials have seen a plethora of catastrophic events in their short lifetime, so they strive to change the world for the better whenever they can. This isn’t to say you need to orchestrate world peace, but your event must feel authentic and meaningful. If you can find a way to include your business in a charity, food drive, or something acknowledging an important issue, you’re likely to attract well-meaning millennials.
2. Custom Convenience!
Millennials are rarely in the same place doing the same thing every day. They might be at work, a coffee shop, their home, or the park; but they always have their devices with them. They thrive on the notion that they can do just about anything, anywhere, in a moment’s notice. This is one of the characteristics that makes millennials so hard to nail down. They require businesses to cater to their every need, and those needs change constantly.
Does this mean millennials are impossible to sell to? Are they too picky and too sporadic? Not necessarily. It just means you need to give them more options.
Millennials pride themselves in making their own path. They don’t trust the masses, the general consensus, or the status quo. They go with what “feels right” in the moment. This means that they’re more likely to go with businesses that are accessible and have the most beneficial options available.
This isn’t as drastic of a change as it may sound. You just need to add a little spice to your products; variety. A new color for an existing product, engraving options, or flexible delivery. It can be the simplest option that makes the biggest difference.
Customization allows millennials to find a combination that aligns with who they are. Your product becomes more than what you originally intended; it’s now part of who someone is. They will treasure it for however long it lasts, show it off in person or on social media, and as a result, they’ll market the product for you.
Millennials are mobile, and we aren’t just talking about their phones. They are constantly moving. They can work from just about anywhere, as stated above, so your offer needs to be accessible.
You can’t only be a brick and mortar shop anymore. In fact, 72% of millennials research and window-shop online before ever entering a store. You need to list every product your business offers online, as well as give them the option to make online purchases. This means whether they’re window shopping or looking to buy online, you’ll always have what they’re looking for. Allow them to obtain the product or service from the store on their time table, or offer date-specific delivery options. Do whatever you need to make the entire experience more convenient. This can mean the difference between hundreds to thousands in monthly revenue.
3. Measure Success in Loyalty
Millennials hold very few constants in their life, relationships being one of them. So, when they find something or someone they respect, they’ll usually cherish it. As in any relationship, this is a two-way road. Millennials want more than a simple product or service; there are likely other businesses that sell the same thing. Millennials want something tangible and measurable that proves you value them as more than just another sale.
Millennials rely on change. They realize that very little in their life will remain the same for long. Conversely, this has given them insight into why relationships are so valuable.
As a result, millennials are an extremely loyal generation. They value it, and when they have it, they protect it fiercely. This loyalty comes with a set of caveats and requirements however, and when businesses don’t fulfill these needs, millennials move on to one that will.
Some of these requirements are:
If you offer incentives for return customers, you’ll already be hitting a lot of these marks. These incentives can vary greatly, and largely depend on the type of product your business sells, but they all follow the same general rule of reciprocation. The more a millennial remains loyal to a business, the more perks, discounts, or advantages they expect.
This doesn’t always mean free services. For some millennials, a donation in their name to an important charity, or a free service to someone in need affirms your loyalty. They’re more likely to buy something that helps the greater good, especially when they get a great product or service at the same time.
Ultimately, how you reward loyalty is up to you, but whatever you choose, it must fulfill at least one of the above needs.
Millennials are constantly using their devices to view statistics, facts, and analyzing goals. Whether they’re viewing the remaining time for their delivery to arrive, how many steps they have, or how close they are to an incentive, millennials are tirelessly measuring their progress.
Use this to your advantage! Allow your customers to track their purchases and gained incentives. When your customers open their phone, they should see how many purchases they need for the next perk. Few things are more fulfilling than watching a progress bar hit 100%.
Let your clients track their loyalty!
Putting it All Together
Not all of these tips will work for every business. There is no step-by-step guidebook that was specifically written for the success of your business. There are, however, tried-and-true guideposts that can point you in the right direction.
You won’t be able to implement every suggestion, and maybe some don’t make sense for your business (maybe you just don’t agree with some), but they can give you a better idea of the generation that makes up a large part of the current marketplace.
Millennials are a generation that desperately want to do business with someone they can respect and value, and reciprocates the same in return. So, the last thought to consider: There are thousands of businesses millennials can choose from, why shouldn’t your business be the one they choose again and again?
For more information on this subject, and other ways your business can thrive, contact BizAssure at: [email protected]