The average Millennial consumer has certain preferences when it comes to their buying habits. They want the brands they interact with to exercise a strong degree of corporate social responsibility. Also, they have less tolerance for unintuitive technology – they expect apps, interfaces and online transactions to happen with ease.
Importantly, Millennial consumers in general tend to express a sort of self-recognition not as prevalent in the past. Specifically, they recognize their own value. They know they are important as customers to businesses, and use this as a way to leverage what they want out of their relationships. However, companies that see these heightened expectations as opportunities, rather than unrealistic burdens, are poised to reap the benefits of customer loyalty and a closer partnership with their consumers.
Put simply, young consumers want easy technology. Where older generations expect difficulty and bugs dealing with technology, young consumers expect it to work in an intuitive manner every time. This extends to a larger idea – they want the brands and companies they interact with to be easy. They want not just a great product or service, but an enjoyable experience getting that product or service delivered.
Consumers are privy to certain information that used to exist only in the minds of marketers – specifically, that it is cheaper to maintain an existing customer than to obtain a new one. With this in mind, they tend to think of their relationships with brands in a more longitudinal manner. In other words, they think of their individuals shopping experiences within the broader frame of their relationship with a brand. This is especially important when they’re dissatisfied. When something goes wrong, they want the brand they’re dealing with to recognize their long-term value as a consumer. They want miscommunications to be accounted for, mis-placed orders to be comp’d and faulty products to be replaced; and, these are not simply wants, but expectations, because they know they can offer the brand/company steady revenue in the future.
A particularly interesting perspective of Millennial consumers is their emphasis on corporate social responsibility. They see corporations as more than mechanisms to generate value and revenue. Instead, they think of businesses as community members, entities with political influence, organizations with sets of values, and financial powerhouses that have the ability to wield that power in a positive way. Businesses should consider the ways their corporate giving and ideals reflect their customers in order to gain and retain passionate brand advocates.
New expectations from young consumers put the impetus on brands to not only sell their products/services, but to consult their customers on how to best use their products and services. For example, many outdoors sporting goods stores offer lessons to help their consumers use their products. Or, SaaS companies put a huge emphasis on client education to make sure those using their products are happy. Clothing stores don’t simply provide garments, but offer “Look-books” to help consumers brainstorm ideas for full outfits. The future of consumerism will take advantage of this trend, and brands will use consumers’ desire for guidance as a platform to celebrate their own products/services.
Consumers do more than exchange money for products/services. They become brand advocates. They actively participate in constructive product feedback exercises. They share product pictures on social media. And, perhaps most importantly, they think about the brands they associate with as a form of self-identity, reflecting a unique and special degree of emotional bond. Businesses should see these new standards not just as higher expectations, but as unique opportunities to rise above the competition and gain long-term, passionate customers.