This article was published in a polish monthly marketing magazine:
Scientists call them Digital Natives, iPhone Generation, the Millennial Generation. They were born 1980 – 1990 and they check their smartphones on average 43 times a day. They are constantly online and they have seen everything. They get bored very quickly. They are 20-30 years old and are intently observing your brand on the Internet. If it isn’t there, then you don’t exist for them.
Flip-flops and a smartphone in bed
The Millennials are also known as Klapki (Flip-flops) in the Polish culture because of their disregard for corporate culture. They are the first generation which remembers the Internet from their childhood. They have also completely different priorities than their parents once did. Money and job safety are not of the greatest value for the Generation Y in terms of professional life. What really counts for them is an interesting job – it has to combine their passion and create opportunities for further development. ‘Flexibility’ is the key word in their case. A work from 8am to 4pm is not very attractive to a Millennial. They want to work when it suits their needs and only as much as they want. They also want to have a possibility to come to work in… flip-flops – that’s where their Polish nickname comes from.
Klapek (flip-flop) always has a smartphone nearby. 43% of them declare that they use the Internet more frequently via a smartphone than a computer. According to the survey carried out by Cisco, 90 % of Millennials sleep with a smartphone within a hand’s reach – checking Facebook, using instant messaging and browsing the Internet are often the last activities Millennials do before falling asleep and the first ones after waking up.
The generation of Facebook and mobile apps
70% of respondents of the afore-mentioned survey declare that mobile apps are an important part of their lives. They use them mainly to communicate with others. Staying in touch with others is fundamental. For this reason, the great migration of social media users from the desktop to the mobile devices seems very natural. Millennials’ve grown up on the social media websites and they take them wherever they go. This way they have their whole world in their pockets. They can find their friends and get in touch with them, find brands they like, information they find interesting, memories they’re fond of and items they want to buy.
Despite the fact that an average 24-35-year-old person has a few social media accounts, Facebook seems to be a symbol of the whole generation – it still remains ‘the first choice’ for almost 90% of respondents. It’s followed by Instagram (46%), Twitter (39%), Tumblr (30%), Pinterest and LinkedIn (27% each) and Snapchat (18%).
However, mobile applications are not only about communication and social media. Millennials use applications for the easiest everyday activities like doing the shopping, moving around the city, checking a weather forecast, reading newspapers, travelling, taking photos, doing sports, losing weight and entertainment.
How do Millennials shop?
The answer is: prudently and on the Internet. Generation Y representative is a conscious consumer. Before buying anything, they browse the Internet. A good research is the key. They’re in their own element when they’re searching for the information. Comparing parameters of different products, prices and brands is what they like. Even if they buy a product offline, first they search for it on the Internet – very often on the way via a smartphone.
Customer reviews are decisive before purchasing a given product. In the first place Millennials ask their friends for advice, however, they take also into consideration opinions and reviews found on discussion boards, blogs, recommendations on online shops, YouTube videos, social media etc. Therefore, Millennials are more than happy to advise other people. They’re willing to share their knowledge and experience related to the brands they use. They recommend best restaurants, flight tickets, films, books, graphics editors, cosmetics, electronic devices etc. to one another.
But watch out! It works the other way round as well! Was there anything a Millennial didn’t like in your restaurant? Did he or she encounter poor customer service? Soup was too salty? You can be pretty sure that their friends will soon learn about it – a Millennial will take a photo of the dish, upload it to the Internet (so that others could see it) and add an appropriate comment. Then, you’ll notice that a few fans from your Facebook fanpage have disappeared. Generation Y didn’t buy bread using ration stamps and they don’t remember times when there was just one kind of sausage at the butcher’s. They’re only familiar with the free market economy. If something starts appealing to them – they will share it with others. If it doesn’t – they will do the same. Only the best businesses will survive – namely, the ones which are adaptable and responsive to consumer Y’s needs.
It’s worth mentioning that representatives of Generation Y go global when it comes to shopping. The Internet is ubiquitous so purchasing cosmetics in the USA, shoes in the UK and consumer electronics in China doesn’t impress anyone anymore. Interestingly, for this reason there are virtually no differences between Millennials’ behaviour in different countries around the world.
A Millenial at work
A Millennial is well-educated and speaks several languages. They search for the information with lightning speed and regard multitasking as part of everyday life. Additionally, they’re fast learners and want more and more. Do you find them interesting? That’s great, because they’re ambitious and effective workers. Do you want to find them? Recruit them via social media – in the first place take a look at LinkedIn and Facebook. However, if you think that you’ll find your Millennial, give them a job security and expect them to work for you for the next 5 years, then you’re completely wrong. If you can’t live up to their expectations, then you will quickly lose them. What are these expectations? A Millennial values flexible working hours more than anything else. It’s a well-known fact that it’s hardly possible to work flexible hours in some businesses, but do your best to be flexible if it’s possible. A Millennial should have an opportunity to fulfil themselves in a workplace – a workplace should provide room for their passions and self-actualization. Importantly, provide your constant feedback. If you lose contact with a Millennial and you no longer find time for a conversation, then you’re likely to lose them soon. Money is not the main priority for a Millennial – a challenging and interesting job is what counts for them. However, satisfying their expectations might not always be enough. Why? The answer is very simple: a Millennial gets bored very quickly. No wonder – they look into their smartphone on average every 10 minutes in search of new information.
What can be done about it?
First and foremost, take care of the visibility of your brand on the Internet. Invest in a well-designed webpage which would be adjusted to mobile devices. Secondly, let others find you. Be present in the social media. Remember – your presence will not do. You have to be active and react to what a Millennial writes about you on Facebook or Twitter. Thirdly, be vigilant and learn what a Millennial is looking for and what they need. There are hundreds of entries on the social media sites which appear every day e.g. “What’s the best camera for holidays? What do you recommend?” “What programmes do you use for this and that?” “I’m looking for a company which can do this and that. Will anyone help me?” – react. Who knows, maybe you’ll solve someone else’s problem and you’ll turn out to be an expert. Then, you can be sure that they will contact you immediately. Fourthly, try to make your business go mobile. Generation Y loves technologies. It’s customary in the West to start thinking in categories ‘mobile first’ and it’s a natural consequence of what is going on around us. Mobile is everywhere – it’s hard to disregard this fact. A mobile website underlies the success. Companies which release their mobile applications are perceived as more modern and believed to be moving with the times. However, watch out here – a good application is an app which does a given thing and offers a practical solution to a problem. If you don’t have an idea or you’re not sure, then don’t risk. Ask experts’ advice and then make a decision.
Fifthly, reward. Millennials like being taken note of, appreciated and they like standing out. If they recommend your service or product – show them your gratitude. A discount or a small coffee will be perceived as a nice gesture – a millennial will remember it and share their experience with others. Or they will bring their friends next time. Sixthly, don’t cheat. If soup is really too salty and you know about it, then don’t deny it and don’t pull sneaky tricks. Simply apologize and make up for the slip-up if possible.
Last but not least, don’t be afraid of talking to us and be honest. It’s probably the simplest tip.