If you haven’t heard any heated commentary on the nature and plight of millennials, you’ve evidently been living under a sound-proofed rock, because it’s very much a hot-button topic. Some argue that this particular generation is rife with apathy and entitlement, while others contend that it faces unique challenges and is more responsible than its predecessors.
The truth, of course, is nowhere near simple enough to be captured in a sweeping statement, and people should recognize that the millennial generation isn’t all that different from any other. However, when it comes to marketing, setting the generalizations aside isn’t an option — segmentation demands a kind of stereotyping, aiming at group identities to maximize return.
So when you’re trying to market your business to millennials, what should you focus on? With all of the overblown statements being made about them, it can be hard to figure out what’s actually going to have an impact. Well, to that end, this piece is all about what millennials want from brands and businesses, all based on reasoned argument instead of hyperbole. Let’s get to it.
Transparent business dealings
The days of people trusting that corporations have their best interests at heart are probably dead and buried. It’s now the default for the discerning consumer to assume that any business targeting them is ready and willing to exploit them however possible to make profit. While this isn’t exclusive to millennials, they’re in the position of having grown up with internet access granting them a window into a world of major economic collapse and uncertainty.
Because of this, it’s extremely important to millennials that the businesses they buy from and advocate for are transparent in their dealings. They need to feel secure in their monetary and emotional investments, confident that they can trust the companies they use to say what they mean, mean what they say, and diligently protect their data (GDPR would likely never have been formed had companies not done such a poor job of this).
When you’re trying to earn trust, you can’t fake transparency for long — you must legitimately commit to doing it properly, and even then it will take quite a while for people to actually become convinced that you’re reliable. Don’t lie to customers, admit mistakes when you make them, and provide some insight into how you operate. It will show the humanity of your staff and position you in a more empathetic light.
Rapid high-quality support
Having grown up with the rapidly-maturing option of online search, millennials know how to efficiently consult the astonishing database that is the internet. Inevitably, having the ability to almost-immediately find the answers to their questions has raised their expectations when it comes to customer support and resources.
In addition, someone who mightn’t think to bother a brand with a phone call would readily send an email, so younger people are far more likely to submit multiple queries and subsequently expect prompt replies. Any business that doesn’t have a solid system in place to handle a significant level of support traffic is going to struggle. You need to not only answer your customers but actively engage with them.
Brands that want to impress millennials need to embrace complex and automation-rich support methods, providing multiple communication channels, using social media platforms effectively, and implementing helpful tools such as knowledge bases, live chat systems, or chatbots. Tools are particularly vital for ecommerce businesses, especially since they’re so easy to provide today — any mainstream ecommerce store host can work with a free tool such as tawk.to.
But as they use complex systems, businesses must maintain a strong focus on good UX: all the functionality in the world won’t help if customers find it frustrating. For instance, if a support ticket ever requires the customer to provide their details multiple times, it will likely lose them.
Consistent moral codes
Millennials likely care more than any preceding generation about business ethics, and it’s easy to see why — their collective adolescence has been rife with questionable dealings placed prominently in the limelight (Goldman Sachs, BP, etc.), and through a combination of worsened conditions and increased online exposure, they’ve been left strongly invested in causes such as recycling and improving working conditions.
So on top of being transparent, a business must be ethical in some sense to really capture the interest of millennials, or at the very least not clearly unethical. In ideal circumstances, a company might maintain charitable efforts, but if that isn’t viable, it should be incredibly careful to avoid doing anything that might attract the ire of a passionate, powerful (particularly through the force of social media) and vocal generation.
After all, there are so many businesses around (and there’s such little diversity in exclusive products) that a millennial unhappy with a certain company can do a quick online search and find another company to serve the same role. It simply isn’t financially justifiable to push away customers who could prove very loyal if kept happy.
Ultimately, millennials have higher expectations than previous generations because they’ve grown up with quickly-advancing technology and a strong sense of skepticism about brands. If you don’t meet their expectations with the service you provide or the image your project, they’ll abandon you — so don’t disappoint!
Kayleigh Alexandra writes all about startups and small businesses for Micro Startups, a site committed to supporting great charities and helping them grow. Check out the website for some informative articles, and head to our Twitter account @getmicrostarted to follow our updates.