As the millennial generation becomes the generation with the most buying power in the market, it’s more important than ever for marketers to really understand what makes millennials willing to open up their digital wallets.
Much has been written about how millennials are disrupting the American marketplace in many different ways; they’re not buying houses or cars, they’re more willing to buy just a handful of high quality goods instead of filling their (very small) apartments with lower quality items, and they consume more digital media than ever.
These are four characteristics of the millennial generation that you absolutely must know as you shape your marketing plan.
1. Millennials expect more for their loyalty
The Baby Boomer generation was often loyal simply to a product or brand through their experience; they’d buy a Ford car every time they bought a car because that was what their family drove. Gen X brought reward and loyalty programs onto the scene; get points for dollars spent and get rewards like special coupons or dollars back.
Millennials are much less impressed by these options. They show an interesting combination of what their parents and grandparents wanted; cash back and points are nice, and they are loyal to brands that they enjoy, but primarily they want to see that their chosen brand is loyal to them.
They want to see that the brand values them. When a brand makes a mistake, especially in the age of social media, the snap back can be severe. Take the recent example of makeup subscription box Ipsy, which posted a video that some users considered offensive, which then lost customers in droves.
Businesses need to remember that there is no unique business in the modern age; your customer can always go somewhere else.
2. Millennials will pay for an experience, especially if they can bring their friends
From beer garden tours to escape rooms to exciting festivals, millennials have forged close connections with their friends, and are much more willing to pay for an experience than they are for tangible goods.
Millennials are sometimes considered irresponsible because they’re more likely to spend their vacation flying to an exciting destination instead of saving for a house, but it’s important to remember that this generation watched the results of the financial crash happen in real time. They don’t particularly want to save their money because they don’t have faith it will be there later and often criticized for not thinking about their financial future.
The more you can make your business into an experience, the more it will intrigue millennials.
3. Millennial customers will never spend money on Big Box Experiences
Both Baby Boomers and Gen X customers were intrigued and satisfied by the experiences of things like shopping at big box stores, listening to Top 40 radio, and drinking the same beer as everyone else on their street, millennials are repelled by all of these experiences.
They intensely value individuality from small, local coffee shops to craft breweries to clothing that is custom tailored to their measurements online. They love subscription boxes which are curated just for them every month. They relish the chance to feel like they stand out.
4. Millennials are untraditionally plugged in
Of all current households, millennials are least likely to have a regular old TV, especially with cable. And why would they? Almost all media can be streamed through a computer, table, or phone. Even if a household does have a TV, often used with a console video game system, they are more likely to pay for on-demand subscription services like Netflix and Hulu than traditional cable TV.
This entire set up is making changes to everything about how America consumes media. Try explaining to a kid how, just ten years ago, if you missed an episode of a TV show one week, you’d either have to buy the season of the show on DVD to see it. Ten years before that, you just had to hope it showed up in reruns.
Now, “bingeing” the most recent season of whatever TV show someone loves is the norm, and companies like Netflix are capitalizing on this by releasing shows designed to be watched in exactly this way. Meanwhile, companies like Hulu are releasing shows that do come out week by week, but which allow for a user to easily catch up on last week’s episode with a single click.
Millennials consume more media than ever, but the ways they are doing it are new and disruptive to older industries.
In general, millennials are shaking up the marketplace in ways their counterpart generations simply did not. They have new technology at their fingertips which they have embraced in every way they could. Knowing how to reach them and engage them will be the key to success for many businesses in the coming years.