Millennials are those people born between 1980 and 2000. And, often, they give a hard time to marketers who’re attempting to understand this key demographic group and to design their initiatives specifically for this crowd. Millennials are important bunch – and for good reasons: they’re an exclusive club of 1.8 billion people, a quarter of the world’s population.
The moment has finally arrived!
Speaking of customer experience, why should you even bother about these folks?
Let’s look at some interesting facts by Goldman Sachs that dove into some of the important trends that accompany the millennial generation, who is coming into its peak buying power.
“The Millennial generation has far surpassed the Baby Boomers in terms of the size of living generation.”
This means that millennials have the numbers and they’re everywhere!
“The range to be considered a true ‘Millennial’ is from 1980 – 2000.”
That’d mean they lie in the age group of 19-39 and, therefore, hold significant economic power. This also means that their prime spending years are approaching.
“Millennials are the first true digital generation.”
They understand and trust the digital media – that means they want products/services that are accessible, usable, valuable, and timely.
Here is a brief about the stakes involved
There are roughly 80 million millennials in the United States, with spending numbers of approximately $600 billion per year. While originally typecast as financially dependent teens, today’s millennials include young adults in their 20s and 30s. Most of them have careers, and some are parents. While millennials already are a prominent force, they will reach their true contribution potential by 2020. Their projected spending in the United States is $1.4 trillion annually and this will represent 30 per cent of the total retail sales. Not just in the U.S, the trend will follow all over the world and will have a major economic impact in other markets.
How are Millennials different from the previous generations?
The next question that a marketer would think of – is this group entirely different from Gen X or Baby Boomers? Or is there a certain common pattern between them? To answer this, Accenture conducted proprietary global market research on the shopping patterns of 6,000 consumers across eight countries, of which 1,707 were millennials. Besides the consumers, it also looked at 60 retailers all over the world to determine whether they were providing the customer experience that this generation demands.
Although we consider millennials to be different from their predecessors, the Baby Boomers (born from 1946 to 1964) and Generation X (1965 to 1979), in terms of buying patterns and purchasing preferences, our results found some remarkable similarities between them.
Here are some similarities between them.
- About 55% of all the three demographics said that they look for “the cheapest return option,” with 41% stating that they practice ‘showrooming’ prior to buying certain products owing to steady penetration of smartphone.
- 36% of the respondents mentioned that they’d buy from the retailers’ website in case the stores are closed.
- Further, on an average, 89% said that having access to real-time product availability information would influence their shopping choices in terms of choosing the stores that they’d buy from.
You thought you knew them. Well, you’re wrong.
The Accenture Research busts three major myths encircling millennial buyers.
The emergence of millennials doesn’t mean that all hopes are lost for your brick and mortar stores. Further, it does not mean that you can no longer expect the kind of loyalty that was observed in the 90s. Retailers have the capability of delivering so much more given the availability of so many channels through which they can reach their target audience.
Unfortunately, research shows that retailers are currently under-delivering when it comes to the demands of millennials. When Accenture evaluated more than 60 global retailers to understand how seamlessly they deliver the customer experience, it was found out that most of them had big gaps in their approaches.
There are two steps that retailers must take from here. First, identifying the unique attributes to attract millennials to their products and services. Second, depending on the attributes, recognizing the complementary dimensions that would contribute to a seamless retail experience.
Here are some of those unique attributes that attract millennials.
The omni-channel advantage
Omni-channel refers to retailers with both a physical and digital presence. HubSpot defines it as “the ability to deliver a seamless and consistent experience across channels while factoring in the different devices that consumers are using to interact with your business.” Though retailers know that consumers are buying from literally everywhere, to date, no one has decoded exactly how, when, and why the modern user makes a purchase.
In a study conducted by Bigcommerce, it was found that convenience, price, and free shipping were the top three reasons U.S. consumers across all generations chose to buy an item at a branded online store. Brand reputation and loyalty rewards were the close fourth and fifth reasons.
All retailers have realized that implementing a good omnichannel strategy would boost their sales as well as increase the lifetime of present customers. Here’s how one can implement the strategy successfully.
How to Implement an Omni-Channel Retail Strategy:
- Capture data, track conversions, and target messaging
- Make user experience and customer experience your priority #1
- Automate to save your sanity
- Adopt a seamless omni-channel experience as different channels mean different kinds of devices
- Allocate the resources effectively, and use helpful technology
- Understand that conversion is only the first step; now you must deliver
The digital experience
Millennials spend a lot of their time browsing on their phone. Therefore, providing them with a personalized experience on apps as well as the website becomes imperative to deliver great customer experience. Let’s look at some data points that establish the same.
Source: Apptentive.com Blog
Deriving intelligence from the data
The previous two points tell us that millennials will use multiple channels to make a buying decision. How does one decode the buying pattern? How do you, as a company, predict the number of purchases that would result from your Facebook ad campaign, or from your blog? We all have the data, thanks to all the smart data tracking tools we have been blessed with. Businesses must leverage data analytics tools to learn millennials’ shopping behaviour across all touchpoints.
How does this impact your CX design?
By 2020, the millennial time bomb will have drastically changed the world of customer experience design. Typically, millennials demand simple and transparent customer experiences that are fuelled by technological innovations but supported by human beings. This means that they would appreciate if there is a genuine person to guide them when problems arise. You might say that millennials literally need everything in place. However, the truth is that decoding their buying patterns are simpler than generally assumed. They appreciate honesty, like speed, and will always stand up to promote a good cause.
And they certainly appreciate innovative products, that are in line with their basic wants. For example, in the U.S, there is an app called Nimbl, which enables customers in New York and San Francisco to withdraw cash using their smartphones and have it delivered to their desired location. Another example from a similar sector is Affirm. Its mission statement is to “deliver honest financial products to improve lives,” as it believes “the financial industry desperately needs reinvention.”
If brands need to stay ahead of the millennial time bomb, therefore, they will need to evolve their customer experience design.
Millennials are not only changing the traditional shopping behaviour but they’re also strongly influencing the shopping patterns of their parents. For example, Amazon often shows how a daughter or a son teaches his/her mother to use the e-commerce website. Therefore, millennials also influence the digital learning curve of Gen X and the Baby Boomers.
One consequence of this evolution is that the retail environment will probably change faster than many companies expect in the coming years. And, unfortunately, many retailers will find themselves falling further behind. To close this emerging consumer generation gap, retail leaders need to take action now to provide the seamless end-to-end experience that millennials demand.