Jul 19, 2013

Young millennials are tough customers, always on the move

Young millennials are tough customers, always on the move
BY Peggy Nordeen


Reprinted from the South Florida Business Journal. Peggy Nordeen.

A recent survey of the “young and hip,” born between 1988 and 1994 and the youngest of the millennials, produced some interesting insights into this generation of consumers. These young ones have “attitude” about how and they use websites, apps and social communities. As marketers, we need to tune into their thoughts, not only to reach them more effectively, but also because they are major influencers in their families and social communities.

Even questions about their buying habits sparked some strong opinions. When it comes to banking, for example, these young consumers say they “never step foot into banks.” They choose banks that have useful apps, using them to make deposits as soon as a check comes their way. Some analyze their spending habits on Mint.com. (A bank with a good spending analysis app would have an advantage.) They transfer money into their checking accounts “a little at a time” using their smartphones, because they can do it instantly, and because it “keeps me from spending too much money at once.”

Big comparison shoppers

Millennials comparison-shop online for things like clothes and shoes. They admit to clicking on a cute outfit shown on a Facebook or Twitter ad. They like to “trade and bargain for clothes” on sites like Poshmark.com, where you can shop from interesting online closets.

Also referred to as Generation Y and Gen Nets, this group likes to participate in membership sites and hunt for bargains on sites above their everyday buying power like Gilt.com and HauteLook.com, Nordstrom’s member-only site for limited-time sales.

While millennials are said to be less interested in cars than earlier generations, they excitedly talk about their approach to choosing cars, which are, in many cases, their first. They do lots of research online, but say they need to look at a real car at a dealership before deciding which one they like the best. Still, before they buy, they want to go home and back to their tablets and laptops to look at blogs and reviews and compare all of the facts. They decide what they are going to pay and “that’s the price – no haggling.”

Still curious and spontaneous

Despite their thoroughness in purchasing, much of their mobile world is spontaneous. If you pique their curiosity with something different, they’ll click and look. They like videos and “silly or interesting art, rather than reading an ad.” Even so, the majority still read newspapers and magazines in print or online. And, unlike older generations, they like being followed around the web by “retargeting campaigns.” Millennials say it’s fun to be surprised by ads for familiar brand they have inquired about before.

They use Google most of the time “because it’s on everything” but more are opting to take advantage of Bing.com/travel, for example, “because it not only tells you the best price, but the price predictor tells the best season/time to travel for the best price” – another example of their need to compare.

Another very important purchasing decision for millennials is displayed in their ticket buying. They often use Ticketmaster.com when there are still seats available for a concert or game, but they will turn to StubHub.com when they simply must go, no matter what the cost. Even in the middle of summer, college millennials are lining up to buy the best available tickets for their schools’ upcoming football season. (Who said these kids don’t plan ahead?)

Self-proclaimed web design snobs

When it comes to websites, they are self-proclaimed design snobs. They say they won’t buy from a website that’s hard to use. They also consider a college’s virtual presence as important as its brick-and-mortar one.

“If they don’t spend money on their website, they won’t spend money on me,” one said. “Would you want to go to a college with dilapidated buildings? It is the same thing.”

While they don’t often go to expensive restaurants, they routinely order their cuisine online from restaurants like Chipotle, Moe’s and Jimmy John’s to ensure the food is ready by the time they arrive. They “can’t wait” for the New York City practice of “texting for drinks” at bars and clubs to catch on here in South Florida, so they don’t have to queue up and fight for a bartender’s attention.

“It’s much more efficient to text and have your drink ready or brought to you,” they say.

Is it any wonder there’s a rumor that Apple may come out with a mobile device you can “wear”? These kids practically wear their smartphones already.

The bottom line for businesses and colleges: It’s important to have a well-designed, easy-to-navigate website with lots of information and good reviews if you want to interact with this age group (and the people they influence). You should make your offerings very visual using interesting videos and art. And, of course, you must have useful, fun apps.

Marketers need to “change it up with both more information and fun” for this interesting generation that’s both analytical and spontaneous.

Peggy Nordeen is CEO of Starmark International. Email her at PNordeen@Starmark.com. For more competitive edge and ROI marketing strategies, sign up for her newsletter at etips.starmark.com.