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Behavioral Economics 03-09-2018 0

How to Catch a Millenial

Did you know that in the next 30 years an estimated $30 trillion dollars (I’m not even going to convert that in to rands because the number’s so big) will be changing hands from Baby Boomers to Gen Xers and Millenials? This will be the largest transfer of wealth in recorded history. Not to mention there’s a lot of wealth being independently generated in the meantime.

So how exactly do you go about ensuring you don’t miss out on your piece of the pie when all this money starts changing hands?

Well that’s where it gets a bit tricky, because there’s this group of people born between 1981 and 2000, or Millennials, that are going to make things a little difficult for you. Apparently, they are a completely new breed, brought up in a different world, with different expectations and a completely new outlook. And I am one, so let me be your guide.

So, let’s start by looking at what we know about millennials so far:

1. Everything on-demand: waiting for things is not our strong point; we’ve never had to, so why should we need to with you?
2. Enquiring: with so much information at our finger-tips we like to satisfy ourselves that what we are being told is true; the word “why” has never been so popular
3. Trust in tech: we don’t have many of the concerns you may; if it makes our lives easier and works as we expect it to then we will use it
4. Conscience: we buy in to causes and higher purposes more than profits or pricing
5. What do you meme? Social media is where we consume most of our content, so if you’re not there we probably don’t see you

But there’s also a couple things people get very wrong about us, so let’s set the record straight:

1. We aren’t lazy – what motivates us is just slightly different to what gets you up in the morning
2. We don’t arbitrarily job hop – we are no more likely to change jobs than any previous generations were, and when we do, we typically have pretty good reasons (you don’t believe me do you? Check this out)
3. We aren’t entitled, selfish narcissists – pretty much every generation has been labelled by the generation before it as the “me” generation, so this is not so much a generational thing, as much as a human thing – older people tend to view youngsters as more entitled and self-absorbed (more on that here)
4. We’re aren’t spoilt – we actually earn less than previous generations and are apparently at risk of being the first generation to record lower lifetime earnings than our parents (more on that here); a UK study has shown we earn on average £8 000 less than our Gen X counterparts in our 20’s

Ok, so now that we are on the same page, how should this understanding be impacting the way you operate your business?

The general principles are not that complicated, but it’s the adoption of new business models and ways of thinking which are harder to achieve – it takes a fundamental shift. You aren’t going to catch millennials with the lipstick on a pig approach (did I mention we aren’t that fond of eating meat anyway?).

So, here’s what you need to do.

1. Go full digital
Be online, be on social media, enable us to get information when we want it and empower us to do things ourselves. If we can avoid seeing a person that probably suits us – until we want to chat to someone, then we obviously need that to happen immediately

2. Have an omni-channel communication approach
If the only way to get hold of you is by email or a phone call, then you’re not making yourself very attractive to speak to as far as we are concerned. We like to be responded to over any medium we choose – Instagram, Facebook, Skype, Twitter, Whatsapp.
We will typically also only find you on those platforms, so don’t think a fancy website will do too much for you if you have no social media presence.

3. Don’t just sell product
The commoditization of most products means that if that’s all you are offering you’re already dead in the water. Have a value proposition that future-proof’s your business even when your products are just the same as everyone else’s, because we can buy in to that.
Hint: we are big fans of a genuine customer experience which shows you know us (even if its really a clever computer doing the work for you)

4. Have a greater purpose
If every rand we spend with you ends up in someone’s pocket then our propensity to give you that rand reduces. Be better than that, give back a little. We like to spread the love and do our bit to make this world a little better for those to come

5. Make sure there’s real value
You can trick us, but not for long. Earning less money than generations before means we are pretty good at sussing out if we’re getting what we should. So you’d better make sure we do, otherwise we will write a scathing comment on your next Facebook post and make sure all of our friends see it

6. Hire some millennials
Seems obvious, but it’s a pretty good place to start – get your hands dirty and get yourself a live case study to learn from. You’d be surprised how much you can get out of a correctly motivated millennial; you may even change your mind on what you think about us!
So that’s all simple enough, but how?
Well that’s the tricky part, but if you’re willing to attend the AA meeting and admit you have a problem, then perhaps we have a couple suggestions for you.


By Nicholas Bowman


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