The Millennial generation is changing how companies do business, develop products, and go-to-market. More importantly, they are changing the way companies engage with consumers. Millennials aren’t afraid to tell the world how they feel about a product or service, and they have plenty of platforms to choose from: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Vine, Instagram, Yelp, Tumblr, Periscope, etc.
So just how do you engage Millennials?… by learning more about them and speaking their language.
In his recent HBR article, friend of TopRight and former colleague Brad Power discusses the 3 Ways Big Companies Are Connecting with Younger Consumers:
1. Starting Conversations vs Selling Products
Understanding Millennials is a significant challenge for the financial services industry, especially when seventy-one percent of Millennials say they would rather go to a dentist than listen to a banker’s advice. How can a company understand a consumer that won’t engage? This is what led MassMutual to make a risky shift from selling products to starting conversations. The company opened Society of Grownups, a storefront that integrates financial literacy sessions, like “How to Buy a Home,” with classes on travel and wine. The entire staff was hired outside of MassMutual. Many of the classes have been sold out, but MassMutual realizes it still has a long way to go to meet Millennials on “their true home ground.”
“We have been successful in starting to understand this generation and their needs, but we have the humility to realize we have a lot more to do.”
~ Nondini Naqui, CEO Society of Grownups
2. Making the Startup Hookup
Marriott is learning about Millennials by working with local startups. Once the company learned that many Millennials identify themselves as localvores, it decided to bring the local flare to the hotel. Marriott created a food and beverage incubator (“CANVAS”) to identify local food and beverage stars and offer them space to do their thing. By turning the hotel’s bars and restaurants into local hotspots, Marriott hopes to attract younger consumers. The company also reinvented its product development process, and now rolls out new initiatives in four to six months, rather than their previous twelve to twenty-four month cycle.
3. Providing Instant Gratification
Starwood is the most technologically-savvy hotel chain in the world. The company’s technology-first strategy is designed to keep up with Millennials’ ever-increasing expectations. The hotel has launched two smartphone-enabled services: “SPG Keyless” and Botlr. Guests can use their smartphones as digital room keys, allowing them to bypass check-in and walk straight to the room. Botlr allows guests to request items like toothpaste or shaving cream, and delivers these requests via a robotic butler. Starwood also uses feedback to make immediate product iterations. Originally, when a hotel room door was opened by “SPG Keyless” it flashed amber. Starwood learned this confused guests, so they changed the unlocked light to green and added a vibration on the mobile device as further confirmation.
The Millennial generation and the rise of digital, omni-channel marketing has shattered the standard, more predictable path to purchase. Connecting with younger consumers requires an innovative approach to the overall customer experience – which also applies to non-Millennial consumers.
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Photo credit: Society of Grownups