What Does a Millennial-Dominated Market Mean for Your Business?
February 2, 2018
By: Kelly Spors
Millennials—people ages 18 to 35 years old—have finally reached the age of majority. And thanks to their generation’s huge size—75.4 million, accounting for roughly 25 percent of the U.S. population—they are now the largest generational force in our economy.
Businesses can’t ignore them and how their preferences and experiences are shaping the consumer world. And those preferences and experiences look very different from any generation before them. Most millennials learned to use computers at a very young age, and many had mobile phones before high school. They prefer using text messaging, social media and instant messaging to communicate rather than phone or email.
From a financial and lifestyle perspective, however, when it comes to major life events —such as buying homes and cars and getting married — they're taking the plunge later than previous generations. According to research by Goldman Sachs, the average millennial doesn’t marry until their early 30s, and a sizable number choose to live with their parents into their 20s. That’s probably because they’re swimming in student debt: The typical millennial has more than $20,000 in college debt. They also earn less (after factoring in inflation) than Generation X or the baby boomers.
Despite that, their buying power is significant: $200 billion in 2017, according to Forbes.
All these generational shifts mean millennials have very different buying habits than other generations. They tend to prioritize experiences over material goods and care about health and fitness. They like to share those experiences on social media with pictures. When they do buy things, they like to hunt for deals and they value brands that offer authenticity that align with their personal and social beliefs.
Businesses trying to win over a millennial customer have to be savvy about how they market to this generation. Here are some tips for how to do it successfully:
Focus on mobile
Given millennials’ tendency to use mobile for shopping and product research, it’s important to have mobile marketing be core to your overall marketing strategy. There are lots of ways to do this, ranging from text messaging-based promotions to using Facebook “chatbots,” to developing a mobile app. It’s important to know how your customers and prospects find your business and how mobile can benefit them in their experience. (It also means you should focus on improving your online reviews on sites like Yelp, because many millennials check those reviews on their mobile devices.)
Millennials care what their friends think—and they like to share their experiences. Consider looking into hiring “influencers”—people with large followings on social media sites like Instagram and Facebook—to help promote your brand.
Sell the experience
Millennials want a total experience when they patronize a business; they aren’t just looking to make a transaction. So, focus on the experiential benefits they can get, whether that’s a fun photo opp or more personalized customer service.
Marketing to millennials requires understanding their lives, goals and perspectives. Once you know that, you can design marketing that they will embrace.
About the Author
Kelly Spors is a freelance writer and editor based in Minneapolis. She previously worked as a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal, covering small business and entrepreneurship.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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