Tumble Dry or High Spin?


What do Mark Zuckerburg, Evan Spiegel, Brian Chesky, and Frank Tao have in common? Aside from being multi-billionaires and founders of technology giants Facebook, Snapchat, Airbnb and DJI (drone manufacturer) respectively, these powerful individuals are all millennials (otherwise known as the generation Y). Aforementioned founders are all 37 years of age or younger and leading the charge in shaping the economy, culture, and lifestyles as we know it.

Millennials are the first generation to grow up with computers and smart phones. Unlike baby boomers, millennials don’t see technology as something to be embraced but rather as something to be used and mastered. Consequently, this has catalyzed the creation of growing number of social media, mobile apps and innovative concepts that reflects the communication, lifestyle, values and goals that are in line with most millennials.

The millennials now make up the largest demographic group in the United States. With over 81 million millennials, the 20s and 30s something group is quickly rising as the largest workforce (by 2020) and consequently become the largest consumer group. As baby boomers head into the retirement sunset, companies are desperately attempting to entice new business from the millennials. But companies continue to fail to connect and woo over the millennials. 

The Toys R Us bankruptcy is one prime example how the millennials are impacting large corporations as online retailers continue to reap the benefit of technology by offering same products as lower price with equal (if not better) customer service experience that millennials are seeking. To be clear, millennials want good valued products and services like any previous generations, but millennials are smart and tech-savvy consumers in comparison to prior generations. Millennials are looking for good return on their hard earned money. Let’s take a look at some core elements where millennials differ from prior generations in terms of consumption.

Mobile & Technology

Millennials are heavily reliant on mobile phones as their means of communication (text) and information sharing (via social apps/blogs). The Nielsen study showed that over 98% of millennials own a smart phone. Naturally, millennials are the heaviest user of smart phone medium including text and apps. And not surprisingly, nearly 40% admitted that interaction with smart phones was greater than with their family or significant other. Not to mention, millennials rank the highest in terms of mobile platform online purchases among all age groups. This prominent finding is nothing of surprise, but many smaller businesses are not aware of the significance.

Large corporations already understand the importance and have initiated large invest in technology, data intelligence, and platforms to better serve the millennials. A strong investment in mobile (smart phone) compatibility with attractive user experience will be mandatory to have a fighting chance to woo over millennials business. Additionally, millennials are quick to criticize bad design or mobile app and will be even quicker to share a bad experience with friends via social media which can demise your business opportunity in a flash. Without a solid mobile platform and presence, dealing with millennials will be a very difficult task and detrimental to long term survival of the company. Again, good technology is always welcome with the millennials.

Social Media & Communication

As mentioned, smart phones are the bloodline for the millennials. Naturally, most millennials prefer to communicate using mobile text (not voice calls) or through an app from their smart phones. Millennials are not interested in the traditional television, radio, or magazine ads to win them over. These ads are white noise to the millennials. What businesses need to focus on is having a platform to communicate via social media and mobile apps. Majority (if not all) of millennials communicate using social media apps such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and so on. Having an appropriate presence and connecting with the millennial audience is only a start. Businesses should not expect to gain brand loyalty overnight using social media. Rather, the platform should be used to garner attention and to build trust/relationship with the millennials. The success of the platform will come down to addressing your business brand that connects with them on an individual level in the long run. This may involve having a compelling message or information with value offers, coupons, events or even charitable cause that associates your brands. Keep the content concise and visual. Millennials love entertaining and informative content.

Brands and Ads

Millennials are wary of brands and its advertisements in general. Again, technology is the reason. With readily accessible information online, millennials are quick to research information about a brand, company history, ethics, scandals and any imaginable good/bad press about a company to determine their support. Millennials are seeking genuineness rather than flashy advertisements. A study showed that only 3% of millennials found traditional television or magazine advertisement to be influential in their purchasing decision. While nearly 33% rely on blogs as their top consumer media source. Reason for such high reliance on blogs is that the contents are written by an individual (whom are more trustworthy in the eyes of millennials versus a corporate view point). Millennials are cynical in a sense. This is an important element that businesses need to understand. Thus, a business looking to win support and loyalty needs to be transparent and straight forward. They are not looking for spontaneous purchase simply based on a single advertisement. Business need to tumble dry into building a relationship and winning sales from the millennials slowly. High spin strategy simply does not work.

Relevance and Authenticity

Millennials look for authenticity and relevance in a brand before they decide to support it. What this simply means is that businesses should not oversell something that has no relevance to them. It may sound a little narcissistic, but millennials don’t want to waste time on matters that is irrelevant to their values or needs. A good example of the millennials value ideology was displayed in the past Presidential election. Although Bernie Sanders didn’t win the democratic nomination, majority of the millennials strongly supported Sanders as he was transparent and engaged the millennials on topics that mattered (ie. Smaller government, equality, college tuition, environment, and so on). Another example, let’s say a business operates a beer brewing company. Millennials may find it more appealing if the brewing process information is shared and outlines the sustainable farming method used to harvest wheat/hops, recycled glass used in the bottling process, charitable donations the company makes to the animal shelters, and so on. Millennials will support business if it can connect with their values and lifestyle.

Millennials are destined economic driver for the United States and businesses need to take serious actions to better approach, connect, and persuade the largest consumer group. The current 20s and 30s will eventually become the 40s and 50s, which will translate into even stronger purchasing power down the road. As mentioned, it takes time and courtship to gain loyalty and support from the millennials. Millennials are propelled by values, trust, change and acceptance of good technology. There is no one size fit all solution for the millennials, but there are key components that all businesses should consider in relation to having the proper technology in place to service the millennials for long time to come. Just remember to tumble dry with care.