"Milennials" are the next generation of adults, numbering an estimated 80 million in the USA according to the US Chamber of Commerce. They are very optimistic, tech-savvy, more tolerant than previous generations, and their number one goal is the pursuit of happiness. 75% of them have a social networking profile, 20% have posted a video of themselves online, and 80% sleep with their phones by (or in!) their beds.
Millennials are emerging as the primary shoppers in grocery stores, supermarkets and - of course - online. However, success with this new generation is not a given. It is anything but straightforward. In many ways, the millennial generation exhibits a much richer array of complex traits than any other generation before and they need to be understood and embraced if retail brands are to enjoy success in the future.
The idea that it is possible to understand how people think and behave based on their generation is one that many find simplistic, or even distasteful. Nevertheless, there are certain key traits that research shows to be prevalent amongst Millennials, and to ignore them is to miss the opportunity to build fruitful and lasting relationships.
Millennials are hungry for information and eager to interact with brands - they really do want to know the facts. Their trust of brands can be deeper and more intense than with any previous generation. If they get what they want they will be loyal defenders of your brand, but if not, they will drop the relationship and move on.
When gathering information to inform their buying decisions, Millennials rely on recommendations from peers and friends more than from experts. They use mobile devices to read user reviews and explore information on social networks. Having grown up with mobile and digital technology as part of their everyday lives, they switch their attention between media platforms on average 27 times per hour.
What used to be a one-way conversation with brands and services is now a multifaceted, 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week dialog between brands and their Millennial customers.
Really engaging with Milennials, then, means being able to listen well and respond quickly.
Most retailers already make good use of call centers, CRMs and social media monitoring to respond to customer feedback - in particular when that feedback is negative. However, some retail brands are beginning to recognize that in order to provide the depth of information, insights and transparency that Millennials are increasingly seeking, they need to do more.
It is no longer enough, for example, to respond to a dissatisfied customer with a refund and an apology. Retailers need to be able to give an explanation, as well as assurances that something will be done to prevent the same thing happening again. This is only possible if retailers involve their suppliers in the discussion, working as a team with them to serve the customer.
This new way of working is called UBX (a Unified Brand eXperience). It means linking retailers, suppliers and customers together in a single community. UBX brings together customer data sources to provide an holistic view of customer behavior and experience, and creates a closed loop with suppliers, enabling them to act as one team with a retailer.
That's the kind of joined-up thinking that will get Millennials' attention.
Find out more about creating your own Unified Brand eXperience (UBX): www.s4rb.com/ubx.