Reaching the 'Me Generation'

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Reaching the 'Me Generation'

By Melissa Kress, Convenience Store News - 03/25/2014

NEW YORK -- Ask any Millennial and they will tell you they get a bad rap being known as the "Me Generation." According to new Nielsen research, that may be true.

"Millennials are not narcissists. They value self-expression, but they also care about family and social issues," Beth Brady, president of Nielsen Segmentation & Local Market Solutions, said during today's Nielsen webinar, "Breaking the Myths: No Strings Attached Generation."

To illustrate that fact, 75 percent of Millennials between 25 and 34 years old made a financial gift to a nonprofit in 2011, she pointed out. In addition, 50 percent of Millennials will spend more on products from socially responsible companies -- highlighting the importance of cause marketing when reaching Millennials.

Millennials are undeniably big business. Citing Forbes data, Brady said the generation spends $200 billion annually.

In order to grab some of those consumer dollars, businesses should follow four basic guidelines:

  • Identify your best customers.
  • Develop products and content to meet their needs.
  • Engage them through effective and efficient marketing.
  • Activate plans through superior sales execution.

In a nutshell, Millennials are the children of Baby Boomers who have been influenced by such coming-of-age-events as Y2K and Sept. 11. They are also the first to experience the wide socialization of communication technology. They are more educated, ethnically diverse, less likely to be married, self-confident and tech savvy, Brady explained.

However, not all Millennials are the same, according to Michael Mancini, vice president of Thought Leadership at Nielsen. "This is the most multicultural generation in history," he said, noting that 71 percent of Millennials appreciate the influence of other cultures on their everyday life.

Also, at 77 million strong, Millennials are "the" generation that cut the cord, he said. They show an independence of mind, body and spirit, but they have also cut the cord physically: they are more likely to have a laptop and use a cell phone as a home phone. In fact, 22 percent of Millennials report never having had a landline.

This generation also likes e-commerce apps and uses smartphones more than other generations.

"Mobile is a reasonable way to reach them," Mancini said, adding that "useful is the new cool" when it comes to apps.

Reaching Millennials takes more than just an app, though. It's all about dialogue.

According to Brady, it starts with a great product. Next, businesses need to engage Millennials in authentic conversations and make it easy for them to talk about the product, she said. Nine out of 10 Millennials take action weekly on behalf of a brand. "It goes without saying you need to tap into the things they desire."

There are also several critical steps companies can take to win the Millennial consumer in-store, Mancini said.

These steps include:

  • Make returns and buying easy through mobile/online.
  • Offer deals that make them feel special.
  • Create products and offerings that celebrate their desire for distinctiveness.
  • Make shopping a destination and an experience: Wi-Fi in stores, in-store "exclusive" events.
  • Listen and have a conversation.