25% of the US Population and Spending $200 Billion Annually by 2017

Posted On June 26, 2016

I’ve written a lot in this space about the millennial workplace, but appealing to employees is only part of a company’s challenge in dealing with generational transition. Even more important is adjusting to the millennial consumer.

Forbes contributor Micah Solomon is calling 2016 “The Year of the Millennial Consumer,” noting that millennials make up 25 percent of the U.S. population and are expected to be spending $200 billion annually by 2017.

How to appeal to a growing demographic that is wielding an increasing share of the nation’s buying power? You’ll need more than hip ad campaigns and catchy Twitter hashtags. You’ll need an understanding of what’s important to them.

Solomon offers a few tips on appealing to the millennial consumers who, in the coming years, may make or break your business:

  1. Provide a personalized, authentic customer experience, but use technology where it makes sense. While millennials are like most of the rest of us in that they want to be treated as individuals and crave personal interaction, they are also individuals that have grown up accustomed to using technology and online solutions. Make sure your employees’ encounters with the customer, whether in person or on the phone, add value to the experience. If they don’t, don’t be afraid to embrace the efficiency of technology; millennials have grown up with self-service applications.
  2. Make sure your technology works. Nothing’s a bigger turnoff to a tech-savvy consumer than technology that doesn’t work. A website that’s not mobile-friendly, automated telephone systems that don’t address a caller’s needs, video players that don’t work or online chat applications that aren’t used or aren’t used properly can all send millennials scrambling to the competition.
  3. Communicate your company’s values; they’re important to millennials. Moreso than their Generation X parents and Baby Boomer grandparents, many millennials care about the values of the company from which they’re buying as much as the value of the product they’re buying. Solomon cites research from Barkley, an independent advertising agency, that 50 percent of millennials seek to patronize companies that support causes they care about.
  4. Be aware that word travels faster than ever. As part of their seemingly insatiable use of social media, millennials aren’t bashful about sharing their consumption habits in that forum – what they ate, where they’re having drinks, what kind of car they bought, what kind of deal they got on that new TV. These habits mean word-of-mouth growth can come exponentially faster than in previous generations. They also mean that a bad experience can become a viral nightmare.
  5. Understand that millennials’ thirst for collaboration extends to the companies with which they do business. Companies that find a way to engage millennial consumers in the process of creating or growing the brand may find it a key to building a loyal group of customers.
Categories: Generation Y / Millennials, Product Design