Sales: True Blue
Why Businesses Want To Earn A Millennial’s Loyalty First
Part One In A Series
Over the past year the Millennial generation has taken the majority spot in the U.S. workforce at more than 53.5 million strong; within the next few years it will be the largest working majority in history. With an estimated buying power of $200 billion collectively, all marketplaces will inevitably change to accommodate this potent force.
Any time a market shifts, there are sure to be challenges, but these should not cause panic. On the contrary, these shifts help create a new level of opportunity to develop products and services for an engaged, aware and enthusiastic new buyer. There are many intricacies to working with and selling to the Millennial generation but no step is more important than to understand how this buyer comes to market and what value they place on the businesses to which they choose to connect.
What Counts Most
Millennials—those in their early 20s to mid-30s—desire to be purpose-driven in everything they do. This means that no matter their role, they want to understand the value in every business connection they have. One common misconception about Millennial buyers within the promotional products industry is that they exclusively seek instant gratification with no concern about product quality. While this generational group does want efficiency in their operations, they hold a company’s standards and place within the market they represent at the highest level. The No. 1 takeaway to remember when selling to Millennial buyers is that they are the single most brand-conscious and company-loyal consumer group of all time. This means that should you earn the business with a young buyer, you have a higher likelihood of keeping the person as a long-term client than with those of other generations. This is because from an early age Millennials were taught to be freethinking and develop their own opinions. In economics, this results in brand loyalty. Once a buyer feels that they understand a company and that the company understands them, it is difficult for them to walk away. Therefore, the key here is developing personal relationships.
Millennial buyers need to be able to see a business for what it is, and for them the product itself is secondary. In fact, they often build an opinion about the product based on the company’s values and how it operates. Millennials are heavy into research and will use all digital media channels to better understand a company before they do business with it.
How To Get There
For marketers, it is important to ensure that a business is visible through the digital communication stream whether it be a website or, more important, social media. It is easy and cost effective for a business of any size to have a Facebook page, but the quality of the content is the most important factor to consider. A Millennial buyer will check a company’s Facebook page to see if the company is loyal to its community, if it engages its employees and if it interacts with customers socially, among other factors. The difference between a company that earns a Millennial’s business and one that does not could simply be because one company didn’t represent itself well online. That does not necessarily mean the company is not actively giving back to its community or does not engage customers well—it just means that those activities are not well marketed. It is important for a business to frequently brag about itself, its staff and its products online.
The interaction between a company and a young buyer is extremely important. However, the way a business connects with these buyers may be unfamiliar within traditional marketing practices. Remember, Millennials have never known a world without technology and they use it to their advantage in every aspect of life. There is no longer a division between work and home life online for young buyers. They seek out knowledge about current affairs in the same space where they will research a new company. They will tell others about their weekend plans in the same space where they brag about a new company with which they are doing business.
Dealing with a Millennial buyer is a lot like flipping on a light switch. Once you are able to connect with them and effectively interact with them, all the other lights, like loyalty and commitment, come on and stay on. Millennials are quick to endorse a company that they feel holds value to them. They believe in speaking out about that company experience and the value they obtained from those interactions beyond the actual products received. Millennials are more likely to purchase a brand based on another person’s positive experience and are more likely to seek out that information online than through any other source.
One of the more notable research areas which distinguishes Millennial buyers from all others is their uncanny ability to forgive a poor experience. Because they are brand loyal, young buyers will always seek ways to forgive a poor experience so that they can continue to work with that company. This is important because they are the most likely of any previous generation to give a second chance after a negative outcome. This speaks to the amount of work the Millennial buyer does on their own to ensure the companies they do business with align with their personal values. Because they value the business for more than just the product, they will return to it again and again because it is important to them to stay loyal.
The Millennial marketplace is value- and goal-driven above all else. Like the generations before them, Millennials are still concerned about price. But, they will overlook price for perceived value based on the knowledge they have of the company itself. Companies that have earned the brand loyalty of this generation are well known in the Millennial demographic market.
There will be a continued ebb and flow of consumer trends as different products strive to meet the demands of a younger audience. However, the messaging behind the products holds the most value to this group. While there is no exact formula to capture the attention of a Millennial buyer, the true test will be in how that buyer responds to the relationship a company is willing to develop with them.
Seth Barnett, a member of the Millennial generation, is PPAI’s diversity development and engagement manager.
What Millennials Want
Millennials look for these qualities in businesses they work with:
• Transparency: what the business stands for
• A solid web presence: both the website and social media channels
• Positive reviews and feedback from others
• Community involvement
• Employee engagement
• Ability of the company to blow its own horn—and do it well