Millenials – who are we?
I am a millennial – a commonly used phrase nowadays. Most people know it refers to the younger generation born in the early 80’s to the early 00’s and that it involves a new type of behavior. But what behavior exactly? What characterises us and what makes us unique? Have millennials been the same since the expression was born? Let’s explore it.
We have grown up with the presence of technology
We are the first generation of digital natives - meaning that we have grown up with the natural presence of technology in our lives. Technology has evolved rapidly during our upbringing and some of us have actually been there since we lived in a somewhat analog society. When I think about how I used to play online games and the phone rang I yelled to my mom to not pick-up the phone because it would break my internet connection over the landline, I can get a bit nostalgic. The same thing goes for travelling by car with my family, and we brought a physical map from the glove compartment to get driving directions, or when I used to get stamps on my paper tickets for riding the bus to school.
I get annoyed when I buy something in H&M’s app and it takes a week to get the clothes
Even though I have experienced a less digital society, it is natural for me to use the app in my smartphone to buy tickets for the bus, or check google maps when I need directions on how to get somewhere. Today, I get frustrated when I run out of data on my smartphone because I need to check what restaurant has been rated the highest when I want to go for dinner during my vacation in Italy. It’s another dimension of expectations and demands. Millennials assume we can have whatever we want, whenever we want it. I get annoyed when I buy something in H&M’s app and it takes a week to get the clothes. If something takes too long or is too complicated, I will abandon the option and go for another one. Hence, we are not very loyal.
Easier to switch partners and friends
It is visible in other aspects as well – relationships for example. The technological platform in our society supports us to find new partners and friends, and therefore we have the luxury of switching when things don’t go our way. Sometimes it’s a larger effort to solve disagreements with an existing friend than making a new one. Obviously it is contextual, but sometimes we might just pick the latter. It needs to fit me, as an individual, if I should stay loyal. To “fit” me, the offer needs to be relevant, I need to get a great customer experience, and it must bring value to me. How do you ensure that? The answer is simple: Get. To. Know. Me.
I turn to social media to find out what visitors think about a restaurant
It’s normal for me to turn to various digital channels during my purchase decision. I check price, product information, and availability online. I also check what others thought about the product when they bought it. If I want to visit a restaurant I haven’t tried before, I turn to social media to find out what other visitors thought – what did they rate it and what did they base their review on? It’s not the rating itself that is important, it is the opportunity for me to evaluate the product based on independent resources. When I have followed through with the purchase I share my experience for others to use. If I didn’t like the product I bought, I will let everyone know I wasn’t satisfied. If I had a great experience at that restaurant I wanted to try, I will give it a good rating and I will recommend it to my friends and family.
When you know us, we will come back
Ownership is not as important as it used to be. It is the accessibility and the value of using a product or service that matters. That is why I use DriveNow or Sunfleet when I need a car instead of buying it. Services like this give me access to the car when I need it, but I don’t have to pay for parking and insurance.
The times when a low price and long opening hours were a competitive advantage have passed. “Pay for 2 get 3” on a product we regularly buy is simply not going to do it for us. The trick to attract and retain disloyal millennials is to stay relevant - so how do you do it? First of all you need to know us, but it’s not enough to know us as a group because we are individuals. When you know us, you need to give us a flawless customer experience – only then will we come back. We have way too many options today to stay with someone we are not 110 % satisfied with, so you need to be on your toes to make sure our experience is great. There are so many touchpoints where you have an opportunity to make an impact. It can be ensuring the stock-levels presented to customers are updated in real-time, because I don’t want to go to the store and find out that the shirt I wanted to buy was bought by someone else 20 min ago. It could also be letting customer choose when and how to pay for the products purchased, because (s)he might prefer using Klarna over a credit-card. It can also be making sure that the appropriate product information is displayed and presented in a pleasant format.
Our behavior is changing business models
What we can say for sure, it that our behavior is changing business models, and the fact that one of the largest generations in history is about to move into its prime spending years is going to stir things around. This is how my generation of millennials resonates – can you imagine what the next one will be like? I work with sales and business development in ICS Retail at Tieto - if you are interested in talking more about this, please reach out to me and we can have a chat.