By Michelle Jackson
Millennials—whether you are one, you know one or you live with one, the word conjures a perception. One thing you might not realize is this generation is your future largest customer base—and sooner than you think.
This generation will see their wealth grow faster than other generations—much of an estimated $30 trillion in generational wealth transfer will pass to them.
To position your company for success, you must learn to understand this generation beyond their economic power, including their priorities, life goals and digital expectations. Understanding millennials will not only allow companies to build relationships with this rapidly emerging segment, but it will also position your company for success across all customer segments and in the coming decades.
Below are some tactics to help you do so.
1. Anticipate their needs
Millennials are aware of their options and, as “digital natives,” they are motivated to research products and services available to them and check that these meet their needs. They grew up in a different world from the ones Generation X and the baby boomers had; millennials have always had access to vast, diverse amounts of information. Gaming, videos, driving directions—everything takes place on the fly and is customizable. Because of this, millennials expect companies to do their own due diligence and thoroughly understand them and their goals. Perhaps more importantly, they’re looking for specific recommendations resulting from these insights. Pinpointing needs often requires robust data and analytics, listening tools and advanced preference management solutions.
2. Leverage data
Millennials expect a digitally driven experience. This offering should start with the research and construction of profiles for these customers. Use data and analytics as a basis for all marketing and customer-relationship efforts. Look beyond the commonplace to find what’s new to ensure you keep up with developments and offer the services millennials want. Every time a company interacts with a customer or a potential client, it should be personalizing that data to understand their needs and goals better. This approach will help make sure every “touchpoint” includes content and messaging relevant to the customer or prospect’s situation, preferences and interests (e.g., has this customer just had a child, are they buying a home, are they going back to school).
3. Deliver multi-device communications
Millennials expect and depend upon the agility that technology provides. This requires more than a few smartphone apps and social media pages. They are interested in meeting face to face and speaking over the phone, but they also want the option of using digital communications tools, such as texting, mobile apps, online portals and social media platforms. This requires an approach that is strong enough to cater to the changes in attitudes and technology that are sure to come.
Over the next 10 years, business will see major disruption as a multi-billion-dollar generational wealth transfer begins from baby boomers to their children. But this massive movement of money is not the only reason companies should be preparing for the game-changing millennial generation. This generation shows firms a clear pathway to the future—not only in their own behaviors and attitudes but in the way they are changing those of their elders and the overall marketplace—think smartphones and Uber, adopted first by millennials but soon after by older generations. At the core of this is millennials' need for a highly personalized experience—from the initial touchpoint to every recommendation and marketing campaign.
Millennials are a vital force that demonstrates a way of looking at the world that is focused on a personalized experience. This is a new reality and will ultimately define your business success or failure.
Michelle Jackson is vice president, business strategy and development at Broadridge Financial Solutions, where she leads strategic data and digital initiatives that meet the dynamic needs of the omni-channel communications market.