Time Magazine Cover September 2013.
I think most people can recall that infamous Times cover which labelled Millennials in no uncertain terms as ‘lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents’. This controversial cover put the match to the tinder that was the discussion on what Millennials mean for our future, and people have been trying to figure out this distinct demographic ever since.
The Millennial Potential
While there’s plenty of talk about Millennials (aged 18-34 at this point in time) by non-Millennials, plenty of them are pushing back at the often overwhelmingly negative stereotypes perpetuated about the cohort. Take this Buzzfeed article as an example: it’s promoting a Chrome Extension that replaces ‘Millennials’ with ‘Snake People’ – a far more appetizing mental image, apparently.
But many Millennials have become immune to the hype, and are instead doing what it is they do best: driving retail.
Some businesses interpret this as needing to build a better mouse trap, but this logic is inherently flawed: Millennials are savvy to your tricks.
“Millennials are driving everything,” said retail analyst Garrick Brown of DTZ. Millennials now outnumber all other consumer groups by the sheer volume of this demographic: in the US, Millennials number around 74-85 million people. And their buying power? In the neighborhood of $174 billion.
So we’re starting to see a shift in the use of the word ‘Millennials’. No longer does mass media chide the sloth-like tendencies of the group, and their inability to find steady employment. Now retailers are hunting for ways to land a slice of that billion-dollar Millennial pie.
How to Catch a Millennial
So how do you target the Millennial market? There are plenty of ‘expert’ articles floating around the web that promise you the winning combination of tactics to retire next year as a millionaire.
The thing is, most Millennials are internet natives. They block ads, they skip commercials, and they have a short but efficient attention span that can evaluate the relevancy of a website in a matter of seconds. Some businesses interpret this as needing to build a better mouse trap, but this logic is inherently flawed: Millennials are savvy to your tricks.
As a result, we’re seeing the reinvention of retail and ecommerce to be consumer-centric, rather than brand-centric. The best brands are reworking their corporate strategies to emphasize the things that Millennials value:
- Experiential shopping venues
- Using technology to research products (both webrooming and showrooming)
- Omni-channel/ multi-dimensional shopping
- Brand loyalty cards/ memberships
- Customer experience and service
How do you solve a problem like Maria Millennials?
Millennials are a complex and difficult bunch, but what demographic isn’t? The whole segmentation and isolation of the Millennial cohort is ridiculous, whether they’re being cast in positive light or negative shadows.
You can win Millennial bucks the same way you can win bucks from the rest of the savvy individuals out there: simply by embracing the omni-channel experience and striving to be the best your company can be in all channels.
Don’t pander to Millennials. Don’t pray to the Millennial Gods. Just put customer experience first and respect the new ways people are shopping.