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What do millennials want from your customer communications?

What do millennials want from your customer communications?

We hear a lot of talk about millennials in marketing and communications, but what are millennials, and what do they want from our communications?

In this article we consider some of the broad characteristics of this generation, and look at some ideas for reaching this audience with messages they will appreciate.

Before we start looking at preferences and characteristics, let’s define our terms.

By ‘millennials’ we mean people who reached early adulthood around the turn of the millennium. That means people who were born between the early 1980s and the early noughties.

It’s a span of twenty years, so you can see that when we talk about millennials we could be talking about someone who is 15 years old, or someone who is 35. Your ‘typical’ millennial might be going to school, or starting a family. This is worth remembering because it shows just how little you can take for granted when trying to communicate with this cohort.

So what do we know – or think we know – about millennials?

Get real

‘Authenticity’ is often mentioned when people discuss millennials. This generation is sceptical by nature and tends to doubt advertising when it feels like someone is just trying to sell something. Millennials appreciate genuine products offered by people they can understand. They appreciate a story that makes sense and a product with meaning. Thinly-veiled marketing messages are less likely to convert.

Inbound over outbound

Younger people may be more inclined to go looking for the products, services and experiences they want and need. You need to be ready when they come looking. Broadcast, display and direct marketing, the traditional outbound techniques, are more likely to be ignored, because millennials recognise these to be serving the advertiser’s interests, not theirs.

While customer communications are inevitably outbound, there may be ways to support millennials’ preference for self-service. For example, you might make it easier for customers to browse support information or product guides.

Recommendations and research matter

Millennials are more likely to use the Internet for research before committing to a purchase. They won’t simply trust an organisation’s claims, but will look for third-party sources that support any promises, and will read reviews and ratings before buying.

Are there ways to infuse your communications with third-party reviews? This might be as simple as a quote – or screenshots of positive reviews or an overall rating.

Digital natives

Your millennial customers are enthusiastic users of technology and digital media. And they are happy exploring new apps and trying new things. This means your customer communications may have to explore new frontiers to keep up with your most adventurous customers.

Mobile is massive

While older generations may prefer to make large purchases and significant transactions from a desktop – or in person – millennials are more inclined to use their phone for everything.

Experiences over objects

Research suggests that millennials are more interested in having great experiences than filling their lives with objects of desire. And when objects are required, millennials often prefer to hire rather than buy; usage is more important than ownership.

This might not have a direct bearing on your customer communications, but it might influence how you pitch competitions and incentives.

Are your customer communications millennial-friendly?

Are your customer communications meeting the needs of your younger customers? Do you segment customers along generational lines? Or do all customers receive the same messaging?

Having reviewed some of the common assumptions made about millennials as a cohort, it’s worth remembering that this is an enormous group of people, spanning a large age range and representing the entire gamut of human experience. So while we may try to pigeonhole customers to help us reach them more effectively, we must also remember that everyone is different and we can never assume anything about anyone.