By: COS and DeborahShaneToolBox.com
1. Make Your Products & Services Useful & Affordable
Millennial consumers had to absorb the impact of the 2008 financial crisis characterized by massive student loan burdens and recession. The generation is hopeful, yet they remain cautious of their spending.
57% of the Millennials surveyed said their spending habits won’t change even with the $30 billion inheritance money that will come from Baby Boomers.
If you want to earn this generation’s support, making your products and services as useful as they can be while staying within reach of budgets is the way to go.
And for good measure, revamp your return policy as 55% of Millennials are always on the lookout for the most affordable return option when shopping.
Just take Zappos.com who built a business around shoes AND their easy, efficient return policy. If you’re not 100% satisfied with your purchase, just return the merchandise (within 1 year of purchase) and that’s it. There are no shipping fees to deal with, and there’s no need for receipts as you shopped online and orders are tracked.
Lesson learned: keep your products high-quality and affordable and your return policy easy and clutter-free like Zappos’ – your business could take off because of it.
2. Focus On An Integrated Customer Experience
An integrated customer experience is about providing products and services to customers in the smoothest way possible by adopting a multichannel approach. And when you live up to your business’ promises while delivering such a seamless service, it leads to conversions.
Let’s put the spotlight to Grainger, which has sold industrial supplies, equipment, and power tools for contractors and building professionals since 1927.
Their almost-century long presence and experience in the industry shows, especially in the way they use technology (their app especially) for providing an integrated customer experience.
Their app lets you find highly specific products by typing them or speaking to the search box. Products purchased can also be shipped to your chosen location or a nearby store – while even tracking your order’s progress real-time.
Consumers’ shopping cart data is also synced across their PCs and other devices, making it easy to access Grainger and their selection of industrial products while on the job site.
Also, Grainger features a “click-to-call” for help feature which lets you find the nearest Grainger location and share must-buy lists with co-workers. The company knows exactly what their consumers need and has built a smooth service framework from there.
The business and IT world are starting to explore the concept of omni-channel shopping – the next step from multi-channel retailing.
This provides consumers with an across-channel experience. It’s the inter-linking of multiple marketing and sales channels that makes this approach to customer experience truly seamless, benefiting both the consumer and retailer.
For example: a customer can check a product’s availabilityvia his desktop (using the merchant’s website); reserve the item and purchase it 2 days later using his smartphone; and pick up the item at his chosen location.
3. Build Brand Loyalty Through Rewards & Product Quality
In a world where many products and services are alike, Millennial consumers seek to be rewarded for their buying choices. After all, they could’ve bought from someone else instead of your company – and they’d still get what they want or need.
Research carried out by Thrive Analytics and Local Search Association in 2014 revealed that 71% of US smartphone users (aged 18 to 29) shared their location with businesses to get personalized offers and deals, while 67% said the prospect of gaining loyalty points convinced them to do so.
So set yourself apart from the competition by rewarding your customers for choosing you over other product / service providers.
Follow the example set by Starbucks. Their My Starbucks Reward program makes it easy for users to be rewarded.
They can earn points by paying with their registered cards,completing incentivized actions, participating in product promotions, engaging with Starbuck’s mobile app and social channels,buying in grocery stores and more.
The Stars earned are saved in the customer’s profile and can be used for redeeming drinks, food items, etc.But that’s not all: the program also has Green and Gold levels that members can move up to once they reach a certain number of points, giving the most loyal of customers and avid fans the opportunity to get more out of their membership.
4. Use Social Media To Engage & Get Millennials Involved
The phrases of note here are “engage” and “get them involved.”
Millennial consumers do “Like” and “Follow” retailers on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. They may find the brand cool but research has shown that their social media relationships with brands and retailers are mostly transactional.
In simpler words: to find good deals, coupons, and the latest promos.
One Millennial consumer noted:
“I would have to be pretty emotionally moved to just ‘Like’ a retailer for no reason.”
And that should be the plan! Businesses shouldn’t be on social media just to establish presence. The goal instead should be to generate positive buzz and to get talked about by Millennial consumers. Be the topic of social conversations for the right reasons and your brand and sales will enjoy a significant boost.
Consider this too: Millennials broke the record for volunteering hours, and the number of non-profit organizations and socially-focused businesses founded by the generation is just as astounding.
With that in mind, perhaps it’s a good idea to combine social media engagement with campaigns that address the social and economic issues this generation faces.
5. Create More Apps To Inform, Engage, & Educate
Tech manufacturers (especially those in the mobile industry) can look forward to sunny days ahead with 40% of Millennials gearing up to purchase a tablet in the next 5 years. Those ahead of the tech curve (38%), so to speak, are prepping to buy a wearable device like Apple’s new iWatch.
So what does that mean for business OUTSIDE the smartphone and tablet industry?
The statistics above means businesses should create better apps to inform, engage, and educate Millennial consumers…or risk losing brand exposure and even sales.
One fine example is CVS Pharmacy app which enjoys a 4.5 star rating and over 16,000 reviews on iTunes: it lets you easily find a store nearby,save money with digital coupons, and even collect points without leaving the app. The app also lets consumers scan prescription barcodes with their phone’s camera to refill their medications.
@DeborahShane is a Social Media and Small Business Strategist and Consultant, featured writer and speaker. She was voted a Top 100 Small Business Champion, Top 100 Small Business Podcast, Top 50 Small Business Leader, 150 Marketers to follow in 2015. Visit with her at DeborahShaneToolBox.com.