When it comes to shopping and buying, the Millennial generation appears to play by its own rules. And businesses that fail to understand the Millennial mindset are destined to fall behind their competition – and perhaps plummet into irrelevancy, says Gui Costin (www.guicostin.com), an entrepreneur, consultant and author of Millennials Are Not Aliens.
“Millennials are changing how we buy, how we sell, how we vacation, how we invest, and just about everything else,” Costin says. “If you’re running a business, you have to pay attention to how they think and act.” Millennials are the generation born roughly from 1981 to 1995, meaning that the older millennials aren’t that far from 40. There are about 80 million Millennials, or nearly one-third of the adult population in the U.S. – and that’s a lot of buying power.
Millennials grew up under very different circumstances than Baby Boomers and Generation X, though, and the way in which they came of age greatly influenced them. One example is their relationship with technology.
“All of us, regardless of which generation we belong to, have been impacted by technology,” Costin says. “But the generation most affected by the digital, connected world are the Millennials. You could think of it this way: If technology were a geyser, Baby Boomers and Generation Xers have been sprayed by its impact, but Millennials got drenched.”
And their natural use of technology transformed the way they act as consumers, Costin says. “Bargaining is a part of their process,” he says. “Because they are facile with technology, they rely heavily on their cell phones to price shop and hunt the best deals.” Costin says there’s plenty that businesses need to understand about Millennials.
Here are just a few other facts about their consumer habits worth paying attention to:
They let everyone know about their buying experiences. It is not uncommon for Millennials to candidly share details about their buying experiences, good or bad, on their public social media platforms. “This can translate to bad news for businesses that underperform or, conversely, great news for those that exceed expectations,” Costin says.
Big purchases can happen virtually. For many older people, it’s difficult to even conceive the idea of buying a car, for example, without ever physically seeing or touching it first. “Millennials do it all the time,” Costin says. “In fact, they are the very first of all the generations to make a large purchase without first performing an on-site inspection.”
Brand loyalty means something. No matter how fickle many people believe Millennials to be, they are extremely brand loyal, Costin says. In fact, 60 percent of Millennials say they almost always stick to brands they currently purchase.
Information is essential. Millennials scour the internet to learn about a brand or product before making a purchase. They check websites, blogs, or peer reviews that they trust.
Instant gratification is paramount. Because they have grown up in a digital age, Millennials are used to speed and immediate gratification. “They value prompt feedback and communication and do not like wasting time,” Costin says. “Think emails, text messages, and online messaging.”
“The environment you grow up in determines what you become accustomed to,” Costin says. “Gen Xers and Baby Boomers need to realize that how they grew up is affecting the way they are selling and marketing their organizations. But you cannot sell and market to Millennials the same way you were sold and marketed to.
“The good news is, many companies are listening. They are actively replacing dated, manual processes with more efficient, cutting-edge tools to promote the convenience and speed Millennials crave.”