Millennials aren’t your enemy.
I was at a conference not too long ago, where they had made some whimsical posters, highlighting possible frustrations of their business-focused audience. Jokes about call centres, humour about customer interactions… and one making a joke about how millennials would be easier to serve if they would just stop staring at their screens.
I know. Hilarious.
One thing that never seems to change: older generations undervaluing or criticizing younger ones. Whether it’s their clothes, their work ethic, their interests, their values, their hobbies… it doesn’t really matter. And it’s no different when it comes to millennials.
And as ever, it needs to change. Now is a great time to start removing those biases, especially as a modern organization. It will only help your business grow.
I’ll start by busting one millennial myth around entitlement from my own personal experience: I’ve met far more entitled 50-60 year-olds than I’ve ever seen in 35-year-olds.
(As a GenX, I’m not allowed to say “OK, Boomer”. Doesn’t feel right)
Here are a few reasons you should take millennials, and how they engage with your business, a little more seriously.
1) If They aren’t Your Customers Now, They will Be
If you picture a millennial, and you immediately picture a teenager, you’re already off the mark. Millennials aren’t young. According to Pew Research, this generation was born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 23 to 38 in 2019). These aren’t children, these are your middle management and your succession plan.
Not only are they older than you might expect, they also have significant buying power. The Census Bureau states that there are 83.1 million millennials in the United States, making them the largest generation in the country’s history. HIS-TOR-Y!
This is a group far too large to ignore or dismiss. A much better tactic is to get to know them better and find out how your product or service can fix their particular problems.
To get you started, ThriveGlobal listed these relevant (though general) generational characteristics you should consider when trying to understand this group. They tend to:
- Find solutions using technology
- Desire to make an impact
- Value diversity
- Commerce and conscience together
2) Millennials Expect You to Engage with them on Social Media
Growing up in an era where social media is just a natural part of daily life brings with it numerous expectations, not only of an online presence but also around its usage and engagement.
Salesforce found 86% of Millennials and GenZers use social media, 52% said it was their preferred method of engaging with brands. That’s in comparison to 69% of GenXers using social with a 29% preference of engagement.
As frustration grows in traditional communication channel experiences, (long response times for emails, convoluted phone trees, etc.), younger generations are finding social media preferable as a means to connect with brands. And it’s not only a preference, but also an indication of how they view an organization.
Microsoft, in their 2018 Global State of Customer Service Report, found 77% of Millennials and 60% of GenX have a more favourable view of organizations that respond to customer service questions and complaints on social media. So, if brand awareness and customer sentiment matter to you, this is something worth paying attention to.
But it’s not only about engagement. According to Global Web Index, among 16 to 24 years olds, social media is as popular as traditional search engines as a way to research products and services. So what is the face of your business on social, when your millennial customers come looking for it?
3) They’re Tired of Your Tired Marketing
“We’re pretty immune to ‘traditional marketing’ tactics because we grew up with a higher level of media literacy, and we get inundated so much… we want reality.” – said a millennial friend of mine when I brought up the topic of customary ads and common marketing.
According to a study conducted by the McCarthy Group, approx. 65% of millennials said they did not like traditional advertising and they didn’t trust it. Who do they trust? People they can relate to and build a connection with. Social media is a great tool to build trusted relationships with your millennial customers (note the “social” in social media) if you’re willing to be more human and engaging.
By being authentic and honest, embracing the opportunity to truly connect with your customers by showing up on social media, you have an amazing opportunity to build trust with this media-savvy generation.
So please stop treating this amazing group of people as the enemy. It won’t help your bottom line, now or for the future.