Generation Y or Millennials, consisting of those born between the late 80s and early 2000s, is considered the first generation of digital natives. They have become adults surrounded by technology, and this fact has shaped their distinctive features as a generation: their behaviors, habits and preferences when it comes to consuming and interacting with companies.
Since they are the present and, especially, the future generation of consumers and users - in 2013 they represented the 24% of the adult population in Europe - to understand the characteristics that define and distinguish them from other generations is crucial for any company - especially for the more traditional - that wants to approach them and offer them products and services that match their expectations.
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We summarize in this post the 4 main distinguishing features that define these first digital natives and can help us understand what they expect from companies:
1. For Millennials technology is the norm: they are digital consumers
Generation Y has grown up with technology. Since they were children, they have been surrounded by electronic devices that have allowed them to listen to music, to play, to entertain, to communicate, etc. Therefore, in a natural way, their customs and habits are closely linked to the use of technology, and the affinity they have with it predisposes them to adopt any technological innovation without hesitation and much faster than previous generations.
Any company that wants to approach the Millennial consumer must use technology comprehensively in its sales processes to live up to their expectations. To make it easy for these consumers the prices’ comparison, the search of information, the payment of an online purchase, the signing of a document, etc. it is key to use simple, fast and intuitive technological solutions. Otherwise, you won't be able to catch their attention and they will start looking for products or services from the competitors.
2. Mobility is a fundamental requirement
Since Millennials have matured along with technology, it is not surprising that they have massively adopted smartphones, even though these mobile devices are relatively new. According to a study published by Gemalto, 92% of Millennials have a smartphone, 43% a tablet and 38% have both devices. Regarding the use, 70% of Millennials spend 2 or more hours a day watching their mobile screens.
Clearly, the smartphone has become an essential tool for any activity in the life of a Millenial, both in their personal and professional life: they check their emails, make purchases, compare airfares, read restaurant reviews, sign documents and contracts, order bank transfers… for absolutely everything, they use their mobile phones.
Therefore, to capture their attention and reach these consumers, companies have to invest to incorporate mobile technologies in their processes, which should be easy to use and allow Millennials access to its products and services through any device.
3. Immediacy and agility. Millennials don’t wait.
Closely related to the two points above, technology has created an impatient generation. Since they are used to click a button and get an immediate result, Millennials don’t wait. For the same reason, their attention spans are very short: if they don't find what they want and exactly when they want it - so you can not meet their need in the immediate time - it is likely that you don’t get a second chance.
This characteristic is linked to the importance of offering a sales process as smooth and easy as possible. By making good use of technological solutions, it´s possible to make a seamless sales process that flows easily. If you can not provide them with what they want to purchase or if you can’t make it simple those cumbersome but mandatory procedures such as the signing of a required document, it is likely that they will opt for another company that makes their life easier (and right now).
4. They are eco-friendly
A trait that also distinguishes this generation with respect to the previous one is its environmental consciousness. And the most relevant fact for companies is that Millenials' beliefs and values determine their consumption decisions. They are concerned with how their buying decisions affect the environment, and therefore will prefer to interact with those companies who share this concern.
These eco-friendly consumers will always prefer products and services that have been developed with as much as possible respect for the environment, something they value above the price. Therefore, companies that want to have Millennials as customers should adopt best practices in this regard: any data about their savings in paper consumption, water and energy, information about their recycling habits or the use of ecological materials for producing their goods, or even best eco-practices in the company’s offices will be highly valued by millennial consumers. And this may be the detail that makes a difference compared to competitors.
Understanding millennials is, therefore, essential to make many strategic decisions that will affect businesses in the long-run. A company’s ability to achieve market leadership not only depends on adaptating itself technologically and offering consumers what they need and when they need it, but also on cultivating a true corporate culture that aligns with the buyer’s values for the future.
This post is also available in Spanish.
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