How to attract millennials to your business

13th Jul 2009

In many countries, the millennial generation account for the majority of the population and a large amount of consumer spend. But many companies are struggling to adapt their business to serve this new wave of consumers, so Keith Pearce offers his tips on how to embrace the millennials.

The millennial generation and its influence on consumer spending and corporate attitudes is only just beginning to be understood, even though they outnumber the baby boomers today. But as its ranks continue to grow in influence and the majority of millennials reach adulthood in the next decade, it is vital for companies to embrace them or face the threat of future struggle.

The millennial customer experience is unlike traditional interactions. Millennial customers are more likely to convene online than meet in person to raise issues and buy products. Online interactive communication tools such as chat rooms, blogs, podcasts and social networking sites mean that power has shifted away from large corporations and into the hands of the consumer.

Shift in communication methods

A recent executive study by the Economist Intelligence Unit and Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories has found that companies are struggling to adapt their businesses to interact with the millennial generation, causing a gap between consumers and the companies with which they are dealing. The survey found that millennials are motivated by convenience, customisation and community. Corporate reputation and brand are less important, with peer recommendation and viral marketing being the main factor when they consider a brand or product.

The survey revealed three key findings:

  • Investment strategies are shifting to favour millennials: Companies are debating heavily whether to invest more in catering to ageing baby boomers versus next-generation consumers - 42% say they should tilt toward younger customers, while 39% would shift toward baby boomers and generation X.
  • The time to act is now: Most companies (54%) have not yet set their strategies or marketing for millennials, even though they overwhelmingly agree that such steps are needed - 75% say millennials will impact their organisation as consumers in the next three years.
  • It’s an enterprise 2.0 world: Most companies have a sophisticated understanding of what it would take to adapt, but are not ready to change their customer engagement model by leveraging social networking, peer marketing, better online support, text messaging and blogging.

Furthermore, 75% of companies believe that in the next three years they will need to have a millennial strategy in place, with 30% expecting a major impact that will lead to change across the organisation and 45% expecting a more modest impact. Despite this, 54% of respondents say they have not yet set their strategy for targeting, attracting or retaining them.

Providing the right customer experience

The report highlights the urgent need for businesses to invest in new modes of customer communication and to tailor their approaches to match customer preferences. Millennials require services that are fast, reliable, frictionless, tailored, honest, trustworthy and personal.

The easiest way businesses can act on these needs is to adapt new customer engagement methods. Tools such as blogs, social networking sites and peer marketing have become the new channel for delivering key product advice and recommendations. Businesses must be prepared to interact in an honest and engaging manner and deliver clear messages and a website experience that enables customers to quickly connect.

Companies that fail to integrate the web, mobile, social networking sites and blogs into their strategies will miss out on opportunities to secure loyalty with the millennial generation and lose vital revenue opportunities in uncertain economic times.

Keith Pearce is marketing director EMEA at Genesys Telecommunications


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