Millennials are constantly being analyzed, categorized and summarized in the media and across the business landscape. Why? According to Pew Research Center, this population segment is projected to overtake baby boomers as the largest generation in America in 2019. Additionally, millennials are dominating headlines for their unique set of behaviors and preferences. This generates a ripple effect into the expectations and attitudes of our country as a whole and is forcing companies to take notice and adapt – or get left behind.
From how they adopt and use technology to their expectations in managing “on-demand” lifestyles, millennials are changing the way businesses operate in every department and throughout cross-functional teams. Specifically, their ability to research and access information online via various digital and social channels is making traditional buying behaviors a thing of the past. As millennials infiltrate management and leadership roles, pay close attention to the following to stay one step ahead of purchasing trends within your organization.
Millennials have grown up in a tightly woven world full of interconnectivity. This accessibility has shaped the commonly shared mindset that there are most always choices to be made; in other words, a brand name in and of itself is not special. Generally speaking, most product and service providers have stiff competition from other businesses offering the same or similar things. For vendors with whom you do business, this could significantly impact contracts.
If a relationship exists simply because it always has, that might not be enough for millennials to continue wanting to purchase from longstanding service providers and suppliers. If they see a competitor offering what they think is a comparable product or service for a lower price or for some added benefit, they might not think twice about using the information they’ve gleaned to change purchasing plans. In particular, exceptional customer service is not only appreciated but expected from those with whom they do business. Their version of brand loyalty is built upon a personal connection and what they see as a superior buying experience rather than simply relying on a trusted name.
It goes without saying that the millennial expectation of accessing information on demand ties in closely to this group’s love of comparison shopping and consumption of consumer reviews. In fact, more than half of millennials admit to price comparing in store before making a purchase, and 93 percent say they rely on blogs and user/consumer reviews before making a purchase.
Most importantly, they expect honesty and integrity from the brands with which they engage and are not afraid to take their business elsewhere after a bad interaction — while sharing that experience with hundreds of their closest followers and friends via social media! Millennials also believe that social media is an effective channel for customer service and will expect resolution of issues from companies with whom they do business through these online platforms. Brands must police their profiles diligently and put online reputation management at the top of their priority lists if they want to survive and thrive among this digitally savvy cohort. Keep in mind that millennial employees may serve as great social media managers and liaisons to communicate with customers in these channels!
With a technology overlay as a catalyst for many millennial behaviors, it comes as no surprise that the point-of-purchase experience winning them over is very different from what it once was. Gone are the days of traditional brick-and-mortar sales leading the way or making selections from phone-book-sized product catalogs from only approved vendors. Instead, an enhanced, user-friendly payment experience that provides expanded buying options is critical for businesses aimed at winning and keeping millennial employees.
In order to facilitate on-demand purchases, companies may need to look into mobile device management software. This allows a business to fully protect its company data, including banking and credit card information as well as data tied to purchasing accounts, while still giving millennials the ability to make purchases from their favorite devices. It also gives the business the opportunity to manage access rights to files, websites and apps required to establish the device as a mobile wallet. It’s no surprise that millennials love the ease and convenience of mobile payments, for example. But businesses themselves are also benefitting from the reliability, security and easy integration into merchant payment systems that these technologies offer.
As millennials begin to create a shift in purchasing processes within your organization, it’s important to recognize that their actions are influencing buying behaviors among other generations who are slowly but surely adopting the trends this group is driving. It’s the millennials’ world, and smart businesses are adapting to it.
Sources: AIMIA Inc. “Born this Way: US Millennial Loyalty Survey,” 2012; AdWeek “Here Is Everything You Need to Know About the Millennial Consumer,” 2014.