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Unexpected attributes of today’s fastest growing customer group

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are the fastest growing group of customers in the marketplace today. Along with not carrying cash, this generation brings unexpected customer attributes that marketers and sales professionals need to know to win them now.


3 things you probably don't know about marketing and selling to Millennials

Here are three things you probably didn’t know about Millennials, but you should:

  1. Millennials are not disloyal customers. Our review of client data across multiple industries and price points shows that Millennials are incredibly loyal customers once they choose to be loyal to a brand, company, or salesperson. The challenge is that Millennials are still “sampling” their purchase options at a later age. In fact, Millennials reach most life events later than previous generations: college graduation, first job, first marriage, and first child. If you hit these life milestones later, the purchasing decisions that follow them also happen later. Therefore, at age 30, when other generations would have already bought three new cars, a Millennial today might have bought only one. They may need to buy two more new cars to find the brand they’ll stick with for the next 10 years. Other generations may see this as disloyal because, at the same age, they had firmly established their automotive loyalty. The reality is that Millennials of the same age today may just be getting started on their independent adult path and will need to make more purchases before they “know for sure” which brands they’re going to be loyal to!
  2. Millennials are not as homogenous as people often portray. Millennials are the most diverse generation in U.S. history. This rich diversity is a big part of the melting pot that the 83.5 million Millennials represent. However, too often, brands fail to recognize that this diversity is a core aspect of the generation; they portray Millennials as homogenous. This affects marketing and branding not only from a product or service standpoint but also from the perspective of employment recruiting. Being ethnically, racially, and culturally diverse in your message is critical to winning and keeping Millennials. Here’s another way to put it: If your salespeople don’t appear diverse, then you will probably have a more difficult time winning diverse Millennial customers.
  3. Millennials love to refer their friends—but not in the traditional sense. The very term “referral” can have negative connotations to this generation. The reason is that “referral” in the digital era often implies that you are financially incentivized to introduce your friends, family, or network to a product, person, or service. This financial incentive takes away from the assumed objectivity of the person making the referral. However, Millennials LOVE to refer their friends in another way. How? They offer to help their friends by introducing them to a person, product, or service they should know about because it was personally valuable to them. The key is to offer help rather than to make a referral. Yes, it’s semantics, but getting the words right has always been key to winning a generation of customers. In our work across numerous industries and brands, we’ve uncovered many different ways to quickly drive referrals. But all of these ways involve taking a new look at when and how referrals are offered by Millennials—and not using the word “referral!” Instead, simply ask, “Do you have any friends I can help?”

Millennials offer the greatest lifetime value of virtually any generation you can win as a customer today. However, Millennials communicate, shop, and buy differently than other generations. Marketers, brand leaders, and sales professionals who are able to adapt to win and keep Millennials now will literally have a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

At The Center, we are passionate about helping brands win Millennials and helping Millennials find the right brands.

Do you use specific sales and marketing tactics to attract the Millennial generation of customers? What is one action that worked?

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