January 8/15, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 15
By Matt Beaudreau
The big question on the minds of many businesses today, whether you’re selling laminate flooring or Lamborghinis, is how do we reach this group that everyone is talking about—the millennials? For the purposes of this conversation, we define millennials as follows: those born between 1977 and 1995.
The long and short answer is retailers first need to look beyond the “category” of potential buyers—although millennials are emerging as a key demographic with increasing buying power. A recent Forbes article stated millennials in the U.S. alone spent $200 billion last year. By 2018, they will have the most spending power of any generation. Furthermore, the article stated social media is playing a huge role with 62% of millennials acknowledging that if a brand engages with them through various networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer.
Beyond just targeting millennials, retailers also need to change the way consumers in general are researching and shopping today. I’m a firm believer that technology has changed the science of retailing today, which means successful retail salespeople must adapt accordingly.
This is especially important when you’re talking about multi-generational businesses. The older generation says, “This is how we do it. The family does it this way, the business looks like this.” There’s so much of that mentality out there, but that doesn’t work anymore. Ten or 11 years ago, Facebook did not exist; YouTube did not exist. When you think about the cultural impact of those platforms alone, it’s astounding. The reality is more has changed in the last 10 years in retail than the previous 50 years.
Looking back over the years, retailers went from making sure they had a functional website to updating that site with content more frequently. That was followed by blogging. But in today’s world that’s still not enough to deliver customers to your doorstep on a daily basis. To be successful, retailers need to be targeting customers on various platforms with new tools such as video, podcasts, etc. The only way to survive is to adapt and never get too nostalgic or romantic about any specific way of doing business. You have to become a practitioner of what is working right now. For example, if your goal is to incorporate Facebook ads but nobody on your staff uses Facebook in that way, good luck with that approach. Same with Instagram. If you’re targeting people age 45 or under—and we’re finding a lot of people buying homes are falling in that age range—Instagram is where they are. But like Facebook, you better have someone on your staff who uses Instagram to understand how it works.
Salespeople will always require the knowledge of connecting with people on a one-on-one basis. While that’s still true, it’s more important to the growth of the industry to be getting the attention of the end consumer in the first place. In other words, where are their eyeballs? Right now social media has a greater impact with the consumer than a billboard or a traditional TV commercial.
Matt Beaudreau is a certified keynote speaker at The Center for Generational Kinetics, headquartered in Austin, Texas. He is a millennial who has a reputation as a thought leader amongst his generation.