These Baby Boomer offspring are the largest demographic segment in history…they are sure to transform the nation. Millennials are (22 – 37) born between 1981 – 1996.
Recently I traveled to Sonoma County for a relaxing night at the Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa located in Boyes Hot Springs; I had not been to this Fairmont property in over 15 years. I remembered it from past pictures and faint memories and was stunned checking in to find the main reception area and the grand sitting area completely changed. It was far more contemporary and very tech savvy. The spa area was completely updated with new décor and state-of-the-art technology. I quickly mentioned how modern everything felt and the manager said, “We had to make the hotel more millennial”. He went on to say how difficult they are to reach and that they wanted to make them feel warm and welcomed. After a few hours at the hotel I settled in and quickly decided the changes were major, but the overall experience was just as relaxing as I had recalled. Yes, the menu included a beet burger that bled like it was real meat, the avocado toast was very tasty with its microgreens, and yep, the prices were high, but the service was real.
After returning home from my relaxing 2-day vacation, I began researching millennials to find out key facts for all my shopping center clients and retailers. I found out some stunning information that I am going to share. Did you know that 1 in 6 millennials (also known as GenY) have more than $100K in savings? The number one reason they said they are saving is in case of an emergency. They have a built-in fear and anxiety since most millennials entered the workforce at the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. This debunks the rumors that this group is reckless and doesn’t save. Millennials not only save, they spend! In 2017 they spent over $200 billion, and that is supposed to increase by 5% in 2018. The millennials are playing a key role in bringing luxury retail out of its slump as the luxury market grew by 5% to $1.2 trillion globally in 2017.
This demographic understands loyalty, luxury, health, authentic truism and value. Value to the millennial is not necessarily the lowest price, they want to believe in who they are purchasing from. They understand social issues, service and time and they don’t want to wait 15 minutes for their Philz Coffee, but they will sit and talk for 15 hours in a coffee shop and not move from their laptops. These offspring of the Boomers are the most important consumer…customer…in history.
Now, with that simple introduction, how do we go about reaching them? We know they don’t fear spending. They love Louis Vuitton, Channel, Versace and yes, upscale food and coffee. In a nutshell, I am providing the first few of many simple ways to reach them. We will continue this millennial dialog over the course of the next few years so that I can deploy more information via this blog. There is so much to learn and share. Okay, this is the first 5.
Deploy real human beings at your retail operations. A millennial will sniff out a fake within minutes. They want to have a genuine experience with added value. Remember, this generation is on their smartphone all day long and they have downloaded the app for your store already, if you have one. They have done all their comparison shopping and now they want honesty, efficient service and a warranty. This is how they would explain value - It isn’t in the actual price of the goods - they will pay more if they are working with someone they trust.
Provide a unique experience or adventure. Place a corn hole game outside your store or a unique selfie station providing a fun way to entertain millennials when visiting your store. During the holidays, have a photo booth where they can do old fashioned photos. Provide classes in your location perhaps, on meditation, cooking, hands-on exhibits, etc. If they can post on social media it will make them feel like they are part of your store and you have provided them a great reason to shop with you again. If you can find altruistic causes to tie-in with and provide a portion of your profits to Save the Whales, feeding the homeless or provide a food drive for the local food bank, this will assist you in gaining loyalty. Tweet, blog and post your efforts across all social media channels.
Don’t try to control the experience while they are shopping, instead include them in the experience. This generation wants to co-create a brand with you! It is important to find a niche, so they can be in the moment with you. For instance, Philz Coffee includes each customer in the experience by making each cup for you as an individual. No two cups are alike. Big Truck hat company in Truckee, California attends festivals around the globe bringing patches, hats, labels and a sewing machine. The customer picks out the hat and goodies, and employees sew it up right then and there…you are now creating a co-brand. We all know that is exactly why Build-A-Bear is so popular. DHL sent out a survey to customers asking for ideas to make their product better and ran contests globally to involve consumers in their changes.
No other generation has been able to multi-task like the millennials can. That is why they put a premium on value and convenience. They are the generation who shops online and will pick-up at the store. They love to use Grub Hub and Door Dash, as it is convenient. We recommend to all our retailers/restaurants to use all of these services as it will expose their product to this finicky group…once you prove yourself to a millennial, consistency is valued. If they recommend your business on Yelp or to friends, you better be consistent or else you will lose them forever. They don’t give second chances. As I stated earlier, they don’t want to wait very long for food, coffee, cocktail service, but when they get served they will spend endless hours at your establishment. They want to feel welcomed, warm and friendly. They will tell everyone about you. It is an investment in another human being. Who knew! We thought they were entitled and could care less about anyone other than themselves, but that myth needs to be debunked immediately.
Don’t talk down to a millennial, as they will never step into your location again. Although they seem informal, and they are, they are paying close attention. They are savvy and know the product they are after. If you don’t treat them right, they will go after your business like a “firestorm”. They will tweet, text and post on social media telling everyone about their experience in your store. As a retailer you must be transparent and real. They care about social values and prefer doing business with those who share these values.
So, Gurus, the moral of the story is don’t be a Judgy McJudgerson like I have been. I am a marketing guru and have been at this for 30 plus years. I have been making assumptions about millennials that are far from the truth and have been dealing in fiction. I have so much more to report on this amazing group of powerful leaders and young inventors. This really is a group of human beings making a difference. From this point on I will make certain I never call them spoiled, entitled fucks ever again….
Source: ICSC | SCT Magazine | Forbes Magazine Online