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AN INTRO TO SELLING & MARKETING TO MILLENNIALS & GEN Y
Numbering almost 80 million, Millennials are the fastest-growing, most diverse generation of consumers in the United States. This is true globally, too.
Popular belief says that Millennials are broke. It’s not true. Millennials are simply entering their wealth accumulation phase later than Baby Boomers—who are often the ones doing the “wealth comparison.” In reality, it is likely that Millennials will outspend Baby Boomers in 2017.
Millennials, also known as Generation Y and Echo Boomers, have grown up being advertised to more than any previous generation and with more choices for products and services than ever before. Most importantly, Millennials have come of age with more channels and ways to buy, rent, share and pay for products and services than any previous generation. These changes are setting new rules for sales and marketing.
Yes, Millennials have more college debt (over $1.3 trillion!) and, in many cases, the credit card debt to go with it. But given the generation’s size and annualincrease in earnings, they will navigate through their debt over time. We predict that the average age of a first-time homebuyer will be older for the Millennial generation than it is for previous generations, but overall spending will continue to grow year after year. It’s important to note that major purchases are often driven by life stage (i.e., marriage and kids), which Millennials have needed more time to reach. They will still buy cars and houses; they’re just doing it later.
When Millennials outspend Baby Boomers in 2017, a huge marketplace shift will take place, and the spending paths will only diverge more. At The Center for Generational Kinetics, we discovered that Millennials:
- Have the greatest lifetime value of any customer in the marketplace
- Have the least-established loyalty as customers—but they are very loyal once they select a brand, service or company
- Are most likely to refer their friends when they have a good shopping or buying experience
Most importantly to salespeople, marketers and innovators, Millennials communicate, shop and buy differently than any previous generation. This is why traditional sales and marketing tactics do not work with Millennials. The Center focuses on uncovering what works now with Millennials at various life stages, over various platforms and with diverse spending potential and habits.
10 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT MILLENNIAL CUSTOMERS & CLIENTS
- Millennials were born between approximately 1977 and 1995.
The birth years for Millennials in the United States stop at 1995 because those born later cannot process the significance of September 11, 2001 in the way those born before 1995 do. In other words, if 9/11 has always been history, then you are not a Millennial.
- When you think about how to market to Millennials, start with their life stage.
Millennials are approximately 20 to 37 years old. This age range covers a broad range of key life events, from earning an education and moving into your own apartment (with three roommates) to being married with two kids. The subgroups within the generation are key for marketing and sales.
- The Center for Generational Kinetics made the important discovery that Millennials are breaking into two different generational groups.
One group of Millennials is reaching all the traditional markers of adulthood, just a few years later than previous generations. This group is entering their wealth accumulation life phase and commanding more power in the marketplace. The other group of Millennials, however, is not creating “real-world traction.” It is important to identify which group represents the ideal customer for your products, services and solutions because each group has different purchasing criteria.
- Millennials are the most consistent generation in the world.
Whether we work in Chile, Egypt, India or elsewhere, Millennials are the most consistent group of all the generations. This is due to many factors, including inexpensive mobile technology.
- Millennials are primarily visual buyers and learners.
This generation has been conditioned to make purchases while looking at a screen, skipping blocks of marketing and advertising text. The Center works with marketers and salespeople to increase conversion with Millennial customers by improving visual layout, overall copy and specific calls-to-action.
- Millennials communicate differently than other generations in the market.
At The Center, we found that Millennial customers prefer to communicate in this order:
- Text—in many cases, IM apps such as WhatsApp are used more than texting
- Email, with the subject line being most important
- Social media
- Phone call
- Millennials are paying for products and services differently than other generations.
If companies, salespeople and brands don’t adapt, Millennials will simply not buy from them—they’ll go to the next guy who has adapted. For example, in a recent national study led by The Center, we discovered how shockingly little cash Millennials actually carry on a daily basis. What does this mean for you? If you want to attract and keep Millennial buyers—especially for small transactions where a couple of dollars can make all the difference (i.e., tipping)—make it easy to pay with a card.
- Millennials don’t just spend their own money.
It’s important to remember that their Baby Boomer parents often provide access to more money and credit. Millennials are entering adulthood later, and as a result, many Baby Boomers are providing financial resources and a financial backstop to their grown children, sometimes well into their 30s. Or maybe it’s the other way around: Baby Boomers continue to offer financial support, so Millennials don’t need to enter adulthood. In either case, this expands the spending and economic power of the Millennial generation. Even if they don’t personally have the funds, they can direct money from other sources. Thanks Mom and Dad for the “emergency” credit card!
- Winning Millennials is not just about Millennials. You need to keep all generations of customers in mind.
The Center discovered that Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are starting to communicate, shop and buy similarly to Millennials. Thus, if you win Millennials, you are in a strong position to attract and keep other generations—but if you lose or miss Millennials as customers, you increase your risk of losing your Gen X and Baby Boomer customers as well.
- Where can I go for specific, research-driven strategies and tactics on how to attract, keep and grow Millennial sales?
AN INTRO TO MILLENNIALS IN THE WORKPLACE
Millennials are the fastest-growing generation in the U.S. workforce. The same is true in most countries around the world. In the U.S., there are about 79.8 million Millennials. They are the most diverse generation in U.S. history and have more college degrees (and college debt) than any previous employee generation, and they bring all of these issues to work.
Millennials were born between approximately 1977 and 1995. Those born after 1995 cannot process the significance of the #1 generation-defining moment for Millennials: September 11, 2001. In other words, if 9/11 has always been history to you, then you are not a Millennial; you are a part of the generation afterMillennials—known as iGen or Gen Z.
Millennials, also known as Generation Y and Echo Boomers, are currently around 20 to 37 years old. This age range is particularly important in the workplace because it covers a broad series of major life events, ranging from graduating from college to living independently, buying a house, getting married and becoming a parent.
One of the most interesting—and least discussed—ideas about Millennials is that they are breaking into two different generational groups. One group of Millennials is reaching all the traditional markers of adulthood, though a few years later than previous generations. This group is working toward careers and entering their wealth accumulation life phase, commanding more power in the workplace. The other group of Millennials, however, is not creating “real-world traction.” This is the group you’ve probably heard most about—they still live at home and let Mom pay their cell phone bill.
By the time Millennials reach age 30, they will self-select into one group or the other and can no longer relate to the other segment of their generation. These divergent trajectories will have profound implications in the workforce, marketplace, government, economy and more.
In fact, the group most offended by Millennials who act entitled is other Millennials who do not feel entitled. The unentitled Millennials think that the rest of the generation is giving them a bad reputation!
10 FAQS ON MILLENNIALS IN THE WORKFORCE
- When do Millennials enter the workforce?
Millennials are entering the workforce at a later age than ever before. This is important because it means that Millennials end up with less work experience than previous generations of the same age. A Baby Boomer’s resume at age 25 looked a lot different from a Millennial’s resume at age 25 today.
- How do Millennials prefer to learn?
Millennials are a largely visual generation. Their most trusted learning resource is YouTube. Companies have been slow to adapt their onboarding and training processes to align with how Millennials prefer to learn, creating big challenges as they enter and advance through the workforce.
- How do Millennials communicate at work?
Millennials communicate differently from other generations at work. Here is a list of their preferred communication methods in order:
- Text—and now, in many cases, IM apps such as WhatsApp are becoming more important than texting
- Email, with the subject line being most important
- Social media
- Phone call
- Can Millennials be loyal, hard-working employees?
Yes! Millennials can be incredibly valuable employees. However, to exhibit those behaviors, they need a workplace environment different from what previous generations have been conditioned to offer. Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, and Generation X conformed much more quickly to their workplaces, whereas Millennials want (and, we dare say, expect) employers to find a middle ground. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Millennial employees often want challenges, a sense of purpose and more life balance—which is increasingly what other generations are asking for, too.
- What makes Millennials different from other employees or job seekers?
- Millennials are okay with shorter tenures of employment and quitting a job that is not a fit for them. It is likely that the perspective will change as they take on more responsibilities, but it has the potential to become a long-term trend.
- Millennials strongly expect their employers to invest in employee training and growth.
- Millennials expect promotions faster than other generations because of their high expectations, lack of understanding of how long other generations worked before being promoted, and desire for tangible career progress.
- Millennials want communication from the boss more frequently than any other generation in the workforce—up to 54% more based on one of The Center’s national studies.
- Why should employers hire Millennials?
Besides the obvious demographic tidal wave—with Millennials already comprising over 50% of most workforces—The Center has identified three big reasons through our research, speaking, and consulting work:
- Millennials want to make a difference from their very first day on the job. They want to have an immediate impact—an ideal attitude for new hires. Give them training specific to how to have that impact, and you will see results.
- More than any other generation, Millennials naturally challenge the status quo at work. They have little experience and are comfortable sharing their opinions on what is not working or what could be better. Cross-generation teams that include Millennials can have a strong positive impact on innovation.
- Millennials will turn down higher-paying jobs to stay with an employer and leader they believe in.
- Can Millennials become great managers?
Absolutely! But, like any generation of employee, they need to continuously build experience, complete training and earn the respect of those they lead.
- What should Millennials keep in mind when managing those older than themselves?
- Just because you’re the manager doesn’t mean that people will follow you. Leadership is earned over time based on your actions and reactions.
- Being younger than those you lead does change things. It is what it is. You can prove yourself by not getting hung up on your own age or anyone else’s. Show up. Lead by example. Listen to others. Value others. Then make the hard decisions and keep moving forward.
- Learn to value the intangibles. You may be fabulous with technology but have room to improve how you give or take feedback. If a leadership responsibility makes you uncomfortable or nervous, treat is as an area for growth.
- Can you predict what will happen when the generation after Millennials enters the workplace?
The Center is leading a new research study on the generation after Millennials, called iGen or Gen Z. One anecdotal finding is that many managers think that iGen will enter the workforce with more willingness to do the jobs Millennials aren’t willing to do and, potentially, with a greater work ethic. This does not bode well for Millennials if it’s true—especially Millennials who have not yet successfully entered the workforce.
- Where can I go for more information on Millennials in the workplace?