Back in 2013, the management consultancy firm Accenture conducted a global market research survey across eight countries on the shopping behaviors of 6,000 consumers (1,707 of whom were Millennials—born between 1980 and 2000). The study, entitled “Who are the Millennial shoppers? And what do they really want?” unveiled some surprising characteristics, and has created lots of buzz in the marketing world.
Why is studying one group of consumer behavior so important? Well, it’s always wise to study a group of people who will come into their own as a major shopping force in the next few years (Millennials are projected to spend $1.4 trillion annually in retail purchases by 2020). But more than that, I think we need to pay close attention to them because they’re the first digitally native generation—something that is already having a big impact on commerce, and their behavior is bleeding into the rest of the population.
Millennials may be idealistic, tech-savvy and impulsive, but they’re also the most highly connected via social channels. That gives them a great amount of influence in brand reputation. They’re also avid bargain hunters who demand good service and value a great customer experience—traits that marketers would do well to heed in growing advocacy.
When I mentioned on LinkedIn that I felt that Millennials represent an important part of the evolution of the consumer, it generated some interesting comments:
“Previous generations use technology and digital as much as millennials and would have adapted had it been native to their youth. What’s exciting and I think opening marketers’ eyes are the possibilities of messaging and communication on individual levels – to everyone.”
“Thank you for saying this. Every younger generation brings a new perspective to things. It is history and it is what moves the world forward.”
“Amen. So tired of the Millennial bashing. I learn from and with them every day. And I rarely see the arrogance they are accused of. Quite the contrary. I find them eager to learn as well.”
“…subtle differences across generations can eventually lead to startling outcomes.”
Another important consideration; according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by next year Millennials will represent the majority of the workforce—swelling to 75% of it by the year 2030. That means they’ll be running things in the not-too-distant future in addition to having the biggest impact as consumers.
Any brand that doesn’t study the characteristics, buying behaviors and communication preferences of up-and-coming consumers risks being left in the ash heap of evolutionary progress. And this is especially true today, with technology changing at what seems to be the speed of thought. This is no time for dawdlers.
Start paying attention folks, or you’re in for a bumpy ride!