The impact Millennials are already having on business and the economy is a frequent topic of reporters and bloggers, and there’s a good reason: They are a large, influential (and growing) group that businesses are struggling to understand, attract and engage. Millennials typically describe people born between 1980 and 2000. They’re now entering the job market in vast numbers and will soon make up more than half of the world’s workforce.
Why do they matter?
- They’re more numerous than Baby Boomers, who are reaching retirement age;
- Today, 25% of the workforce in the US and more than 36% of Canada’s workforce are Millennials; and
- By 2020, Millennials will form 50% of the global workforce.
It’s also important to understand a few demographic details. They are:
- Highly educated … the most highly educated of any generation to date.
- Politically progressive.
- Socially active and socially conscious, and they expect businesses to reflect the same values.
How are Millennials different?
Millennials’ affinity for the latest technology is one factor that definitely sets them apart from earlier generations, including Gen Xers who were using technology throughout their working life and are considered tech-savvy. For this new generation, technology is an essential part of their every day lives and there’s no separation between work and play. Many stories about Millennials also talk about their lack of loyalty and focus but I believe this is more a case of businesses not knowing how to connect with and engage this new generation, not that they don’t have a clear vision of what they want, and what’s important to them.
As a business, it’s a generation you can’t ignore. They will be buying your products (with their estimated $1.4 Trillion in buying power) and they’re the employees you will need to attract to be competitive in the future.
Engaging the Right Way
It’s a journey: For Millennials doing business is about more than a simple transaction. They are drawn to the experience both online and in store. Keeping an eye on the customer experience on your website and in store will help create the destination feel that Millennials want so they keep coming back.
Connected: Whether it is checking prices or reading reviews, Millennials do their research before making a purchase. They read blogs and read what others are saying before they do business with a company. And, as I’ve mentioned before, today’s consumers are much more savvy, which is changing the way you interact with them.
Multi-channel’s a must: There’s a bit of a misconception that Millennials don’t like bricks and mortar stores and do all their purchases online. In reality, 41% of Millennials go into a retail store to see a product before buying it online. This tells me you need to provide a range of purchasing options so Millennial consumers can easily buy when, where and how they want to.
Visuals & video: Infographics, videos and images are more important than ever to connect with a Millennial audience. The don’t want to wade through a technical manual or read heavy brochure-ware. Make it visual, and make it easy and make it fun.
Social & socially responsible: Social responsibility, connecting with the community and giving back are important Millennial values and they want to feel the companies they are doing business with support their ideals. They also look for businesses that are active on social media (which is where they are spending time), and they want to know these companies share similar views on the world.
Keep Millennials on Your Mind
A majority of Millennials say they feel misunderstood by their elders but I’d argue that’s true of almost every previous generation. One thing is clear, if you’re planning to stay in business and compete, you need to find ways to make your business attractive to this tech-savvy generation.
Whether you’re a retailer looking to tap into their massive buying power, or you need to stay ahead of the competition with the best and brightest employees, you need the right approach and tools at your disposal … and you need to start thinking about what you need to change today, before this important constituency finds your competitors.