Millennials: The Defining Characteristics You Need to Know

By March 28, 2020 E-Commerce No Comments

You probably think that Millennials are entitled, obsessed with instant gratification and out for a little more than as much as they can lay their hands on.  If so, you’ve made the same unfair and dangerous assumption as thousands of other business owners.

In truth, Millennial consumers are among the most critical and selective of any generation to date. Never has a generation of consumers been more meticulous, when it comes to what it wants, how it wants it and who it wants it from.

Like it or not, businesses with any intention of remaining viable long-term have no alternative but to take Millennials seriously. Irrespective of whether you agree with their priorities and values, Millennials hold your future squarely in the palms of their hands. Or at least, the part of their hand not permanently occupied by a smartphone. 

A New Era 

Jokes aside, Millennials are taking over the world in numbers never before seen. There are more than 92 million of them in the US alone. They also have more spending power than any prior generation, along with quick and easy access to digital retailers on a 24/7 basis. All of which adds up to an incredible opportunity for businesses worldwide – if they take Millennials seriously.

And of course, taking Millennials seriously means first understanding Millennial consumer audiences. So to help those who’d prefer to capitalise on Generation Y rather than simply ignoring it, what follows is an introduction to the most important defining characteristics of Millennials you absolutely need to know:

1. They Crave Authenticity

First up, Generation Y is a generation that expects businesses to ‘keep it real’ to the same extent they do. Or to put it another way, they’re only interested in businesses that are honest, open and comprehensively transparent. Attempting to be something you’re simply not to curry favour just isn’t going to cut it with Millennials.

If your company isn’t eco-conscious and dedicated to environmental issues, don’t pretend it is. If your products and services are primarily designed for older audiences, don’t attempt to be youthful in your marketing materials. If you’re all about making as much money as possible and nothing else, don’t make out as if you care about your customers. Whatever values you intend to push as your USPs, they need to be values you are capable of living. 

2. Social Media Has Total Influence 

A recent report found that a whopping 47% of Millennials base their purchase decisions at least partially on the information and recommendations they come across on social media. Not only this, but the same demographic is also around 35% more likely to do business with companies that operate strong and consistent social media presences. Once again therefore, conclusive evidence supporting the value and relevance of social media for the modern business.

Going back to the previous point, capitalising on the value of social media is not simply about maintaining a token presence for the sake of it. You’ll immediately be identified as a fraud. If you’re going to do social media for business purposes these days, you need to do it properly – irrespective of the time and effort required. 

3. Loyalty Programs Score Big 

Most people know that loyalty programs in general aren’t of a great deal of value to the average shopper. Nevertheless, research suggests that loyalty programs are more likely to appeal to Millennials than any other generation of consumers in recorded history. In fact, somewhere in the region of 80% of Millennial consumers are actively involved in at least one loyalty scheme.

The thing is, any business savvy enough to attract Millennials in the first place would be wise to do whatever it takes to hold onto them. Even if the loyalty scheme in question is relatively modest, it’s still far better than no loyalty scheme at all. Given the relatively fickle nature of Millennials – in a consumer sense – focusing heavily on retention and loyalty is a must. 

Cost-conscious and dedicated to the brands they love, 80% of Millennials participate in loyalty programs. In fact, Millennial shoppers are more likely than shoppers in any other generation to keep shopping with a brand because it offers loyalty rewards.

4. Personalised Marketing is the Future 

Millennials hate promotions and marketing campaigns that make them feel as if they’re a generic member of the generic crowd, or simply a statistic. By contrast, they absolutely adore personalised marketing campaigns and promotions in general. Maybe not adore, but they certainly have a lot more time for them. Personalised marketing may be significantly more expensive and time consuming, but nonetheless has the potential to deliver a uniquely strong and consistent ROI.

Whatever you can do to make every customer feel valued and unique, it’s something you should be doing. Particularly when it comes to direct communications like emails, where the days of mass-sending generic garbage really are dead and gone. 

5. Price Matters

The Millennial consumer generation has access to the kind of technology that has made traditional ‘shopping around’ obsolete. These days, it’s simply a case of hammering the name of a product into a smartphone and immediately recognising if the deal you’re looking at is a good deal. If not, it’s just as easy to head elsewhere and buy it for a cheaper price.

So it’s hardly surprising that close to 60% of Millennial shoppers now compare prices on almost everything they buy. And if there’s any real difference on price, they’re not about to let themselves get ripped-off for the sake of it. 

6. Brands Matter More 

That is, unless the brand or retailer in question has already earned their loyalty.  A similar 60% of Millennials have stated that they almost always stick with brands they like and they know they can trust. Even if it means paying slightly more than the lowest available price, they’re more than happy to do so if the brand has earned their respect.

Once again therefore, the key to success with Millennial audiences lies in developing a sense of trust and establishing loyalty. Now more than ever, focusing disproportionately on attracting new customers rather than retaining existing customers really isn’t the way to go. 

7. They Trust Word of Mouth 

One of the most interesting things about Millennial consumers is the way in which they place enormous value on the recommendations and reviews of complete strangers. They’re simply in love with word of mouth in general, ignoring everything the company has to say and listening to everything the customer has to say. Even if the recommendation comes from a person they don’t know from Adam, they’re instinctively inclined to trust customers’ opinions.

This is why social proof like online reviews, ratings, testimonials and so on has never been of greater value. They aren’t going to listen to you, so why not get others to spread the good word about your business on your behalf?

8. They Like Brands with a Purpose 

Some companies are out to save the rainforests. Others donate a percentage of every sale to charity. And then there are those who simply commit to recycle materials, organic produce and so on. In all instances, these are the kinds of brands that go above and beyond simply selling products and services.

Right now, approximately three of every four Millennial consumers actively choose brands that have at least some kind of credible and respectable purpose.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be world-changing, but it needs to exist.  Otherwise, they simply assume that your business operates 100% for its own selfish benefit, which technically may be 100% true. 

9. They’re All About Impulse Purchases 

Due to the way most Millennials do their shopping these days, they are exponentially more likely to make impulse purchases than any generation in recorded history.  In fact, research suggests that more than 40% of Millennial consumers make impulse purchases every single month. A revealing statistic every ecommerce business owner should take seriously.

The key to capitalising on impulse purchases being the simplification and acceleration of the checkout process. The faster and easier you make it to purchase your products, the less time they have to change their minds. 

10. They’re Impatient 

Last but not least, anything you intend to sell Millennial audiences from an online store, you need to get to them in record-time. And not only in record-time, but at no additional charge. Studies have shown that two of the biggest turn offs for Millennial audiences are slow delivery times and shipping charges.

If your products take anything more than a couple of days to arrive at their respective destination, you can expect to be inundated with refund requests. If you’re in the habit of adding shipping charges at the end of the transaction, you’ll trigger higher bounce rates than you can afford. Millennials have become impatient for the simple reason that so many businesses now provide next-day and even same-day delivery at no extra cost. Unless you’re capable of keeping up, you’ll fall behind – it really is as simple as that. 

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