The Rise of the Millennial Consumer

Millennials (those born between 1980 and 1995) are the fastest growing consumer group and in 2013, they accounted for 60% of the population.  They’re responsible for $1.6 trillion in consumer spending each year. And this is all just before they enter their wealth accumulation phase!

I had the opportunity to discuss this topic on a panel at LA Tech Week with a group of fellow millennial colleagues in an effort to find the best practices on how to connect to this group in this digital and dynamic world.

How should we connect with Millennials? What are we missing?

  • Good design (both online and offline) is no longer a differentiator, it’s an expectation. Good design is your gateway to entry. If you don’t have a solid online presence, you don’t have a solid brand.
  • Millennials are experience seekers first and foremost. They’re collaborative consumers, digitally synchronized and highly entrepreneurial. They are so entrenched in brands that they swap and fluidly move in and out of them. Being able to bring them back to yours is key!
  • Acquiring consumer preferences through consistent communications before, during, and after their experience is also critical. Use social media tools and in-person interactions, then store these findings in a CRM system. Taking this time with the consumer and offering good customer service creates favorable experiences which will win the attention and loyalty of millennial consumers.

Why are Millennials important for luxury brands?

  • Millennials are the most brand-savvy consumer group in the world. They are just starting their wealth accumulation phase and are willing to engage with brands in collaborative ways as long as the brand is ethical and transparent to them.
  • This group can’t be defined by any single medium. With an insatiable need to be connected and continually validated for their level of “insider status”, Millennials are their own medium.
  • Millennials have a reputation among peers as a trusted source of good advice. They not only buy products and services, they also recommend them to others. They gain access to their extended networks, maximizing marketing dollars.

When it comes to their digital behavior, what should we know?

  • Millennial consumers love to curate their lives in visually rich ways. Hence the rise of visual culture as it relates to the way in which they put their lives together via Instagram, Twitter, etc, and then spit them out for their friends and followers to see. Audiences respond to this with comments and likes. Just as brands have become people, people have become brands.
  • Digital marketing does not inherently mean exposing a luxury brand’s exclusivity to risk. In fact, digital marketing offers perhaps the most elegant opportunity to control and enhance a brand’s exclusivity. It’s what I call “prestige technology.”
  • The defining behavioral characteristic with respect to digital media of Millennials is interconnectivity.
  • Value collaboration: they want to work with brands to create and innovate products.
  • Millennials crowdsource information from peers even while they are shopping at retail.

How Do We Adapt Current Marketing Practices?

  • Compete for relevance (not attention): With advances in technology constantly accelerating, you can’t simply keep reacting to technology. What you can do is think about how you will use new and existing platforms to deliver a new, meaningful approach.
  • Transcend gender, focus on non-gender-specific aspects to strengthen overall brand appeal.
  • For men: Market to commitment and achievements, not sex appeal.
  • For women: Stimulate the senses—offer convivial experiences that tap into heightened sensory powers.