Even if you have an old-school business, you need some new-school strategies if you want to court and keep the Millennial customer.
One recent survey from the Blackhawk Engagement Solutions marketing firm revealed that Millennials—those between 17 and 34 who will spend about $200 billion collectively in 2017—are a little different from everyone else in that:
- 89 percent of Millennials connect to the Internet with their phones every day.
- 55 percent use social media to get information about shopping. TV ranked sixth.
- Millennials prefer comparison shopping via Google and Amazon.
- 88 percent would consider buying online and picking it up in the store if it saved $10 on a $50 item.
What catches the attention of millennials?
Everette Taylor, CEO of MilliSense marketing firm and a growth marketing strategist for Microsoft, says that it’s not that Millennials themselves are changing—it’s the amount of information available to them.
“Spending habits with older generations were easier to pin down because fads and trends stuck around longer,” Taylor says. “Nowadays an influencer can tweet something or post a picture and completely change how Millennials view a product, style, or trend.”
In order to keep up, Taylor suggests these tactics for small businesses:
- Use Google Trends, a tool that offers a real-time snapshot of what people are sharing on social media.
- Actively engage in communities where your target market interacts or consumes content.
- Study social media, viral content, and influencers. “Commercials and traditional marketing ads don’t resonate (with Millennials) the way they do with Generation X.”
Make sure your reputation is pristine. “More often than not, Millennials will check reviews online, blogs, or what other people are saying about a product or service before purchasing.”
Up your service and product game
Taylor says that Millennials are looking for a combination that sounds like an oxymoron: products and services that are affordable, yet exclusive. “Millennials want to feel as if they’re different or standing out, even if the product they’re using is being used by thousands or millions of others.”
The Blackhawk survey showed that price is the biggest influence on Millennial purchases, followed by quality. And 95 percent of those asked said they “are more or as sensitive to price as last year.”
“Companies must adapt to a way of thinking called ‘customer success,’” Taylor says, citing a philosophy designed for software companies that deliver service via the Internet, but can be applied to any business. Users not only require that they get their desired product, but they also want exceptional service. “Customer support must be easily accessible. The best companies understand that Millennials want to be able to get in contact with them quickly especially via social media,” says Taylor.
Millennials are also looking at the sustainability and social aspects of what they consume. “They are now paying attention more to how products are being made, what ingredients are being included, and if there is anything negative involved with the production. Also, Millennials like to see companies giving back and supporting local communities or other philanthropic causes,” Taylor says.
Finally, in order to attract the Millennial customer, you have to be your very best self. “Be authentic,” Taylor says. “Millennials can see right through sleazy marketing tactics and non-genuine brands. Millennials want transparency and brands that they can trust.”