I wish someone had sent me home from the hospital with a roadmap or maybe even a user manual back in the 80’s when I gave birth to my Millennials! I’m sure I could have been spared countless hours of angst and numerous mistakes. Luckily for you, we have learned a thing or two over the years about these Millennials. As the fastest growing generation in the marketplace, it’s important to learn how to market (or rather, not look like we’re marketing) this group now, before they “take over” the marketplace in 2017 and outspend Boomers. So I’m going to be giving you a little road map to success over the next several weeks to kick off the New Year.
Let’s start with the basics. Who are Millennials?
As a whole they were born approximately between 1977 and early 2000, and 9/11 is the significant marker for qualification.
Right now they are broken into two separate life stage phases. One group is married with their 2.0 kids, a house mortgage and Fido at their feet. Essentially they are acquiring all those same comforts and responsibilities as their parents, just a little bit more delayed than we did it. Let’s just say they are the “going it all right” group. They are the least talked about of the Millennials, but surprisingly make up a slightly larger percentage overall. Now the second group is just getting started on earning an education and puts a lot of value on travel, friends and fun. They are in far less of a hurry to marry and take on financial responsibilities and are just now getting their first place outside of mom and dad’s house (even though they are 26 and mom still pays the cell phone bill). They live with 50 of their closest friends….OK, maybe just 2 or 3, and they change jobs quicker than I change my hair color….which is a lot. I like to call them the “I don’t want to be an adult yet” group. As a group they aren’t gaining any real toehold in the world yet…with yet being the optimum word, it will come. This is also the group you’ll hear talked about the most and the one used frequently as the defining example of the Millennial generation as a whole…which is a huge, huge marketing mistake.
The really good news for you as a grocer is both groups need to eat!! So yay for that. You don’t need to discern which group you need to reach….everybody eats. And luckily for you Millennials do have a few specific characteristics, if used to your advantage, can help you communicate, reach and market with a relevant voice and perspective.
According to The Center for Generational Kinetics (a really good read by the way, if you have a few minutes I recommend it) there are 3 key characteristics of millennials that define them as consumers.
A sense of entitlement
Being outcome driven
So let’s break these down.
While a “sense of entitlement” may sound bad it’s rooted in the way Boomers have raised this generation. Our desire to make life easier than we had it has resulted in a generation that is …let’s just say…..slower to take the steps into adulthood. In short…They want all the benefits and freedom without those cumbersome responsibilities that accompany adulthood. The responsibilities of becoming financially independent, finishing school, getting married and starting a family are more delayed in this generation, more so than any other generation, but it does come. We’re just beginning to feel the impact of this delay in the marketplace. Those bigger ticket purchases are increasing and we are starting to feel the effects on our economic forecast.
Tech-dependence…now that has very little to do with an understanding of technology and everything to do with how they prefer to communication and function. Millennials need technology to do everything from simply waking up in the morning to buying a house. They will text before making a call, look up product and service information, garner anonymous ratings and even make big purchases sight unseen. It’s really staggering how totally dependent this generation is on their devices. When was the last time you had a face-to-face conversation with a Millennial that lasted longer than 5 minutes before their nose was back into their device for one reason or the other?
Now, this last characteristic even I have been guilty of misrepresenting from time to time myself. It’s the “fast food” or “instant gratification” syndrome Boomers like to mislabel Millennials with. In reality, instant gratification and “outcome driven” are really quite different. The only way I can really explain this outcome driven is to compare how I make a purchase or purchase decision and compare them. It’s really quite simple….I do “A”, then I do “B” and ultimately I get to “C”, the end game. It’s logical, straight forward.
Millennials, however, start at “C”, the end game, and work their way back to “A” and probably skip around to “D” to figure out the how’s and why’s, and then “if” to accomplish almost every purchase. They don’t like to be insulted with wordy marketing and advertising and will skip right over all that. They are visual consumers and respond to calls-to-action when in an engaging format.
So now that I have laid the ground work, we can begin to explore their communication, purchasing pathways and relevant strategies to reach them. The really great news however, is once you have them, they are exceedingly loyal to a brand. And with 50+ years of buying power ahead of them…it’s really worth the investment today.
Blue Skies Everyone