Don’t Miss the Market for the Demographics

millenials

There’s lots of buzz around marketing to Millennials. Today we question whether using general age demographics is a tired old advertising technique that’s missing the true future customer.

A few weeks ago we were building personas with one of our startup clients which triggered a colorful debate over who the customer was and the characteristics that best defined that person. Our knee-jerk approach was to say we’re going after Millennials. What we discovered, as we went deeper, was that the behaviors we were targeting might define Millennials but wasn’t preconditioned by any particular age bracket.

After much debate, we came to the conclusion that this is a more accurate description and explanation of the future customer:

1. Digital expectations – As with most things, it all starts with expectations. What does the customer expect to be able to do with your company or product? Few things define the new customer better than how and where they want to do business—online. Many businesses are rapidly losing market share because they assume offline referrals, phone calls, and retail foot traffic will continue to sustain them. It won’t.

There is a fundamental expectation with the modern consumer that anything can (and should) be done online, on your website.

2. Mobile – Standing in line at Starbucks, I watched customer after customer paying with their phones. Sitting in a recent meeting with a client I witnessed most of the attendees taking notes (and probably checking email, text messages, Facebook, and Twitter) on oversized phones, not laptops.

Everyone is using mobile devices, not desktops. If you want to be doing business with these folks, your website had better be mobile-friendly.

3. Connectivity – Your customer has grown up in an always-connected environment and those that didn’t have long since forgotten what it is to be disconnected. As a result, you need to be prepared for business wherever and whenever customers are ready to buy. Once again, this leads to creating a mobile-friendly experience.

When you are designing your customer experience, you need to think closely about delivering a presence that works flawlessly across devices while prioritizing relevant content in the appropriate context. For example, when your website is rendering on a phone your phone number, email, and address contact information should probably rise to the top of the page.

4. Social streams –  Once upon a time people went to Yahoo’s directory to find things. Then came Google and people began to search. Today, we have social streams like Facebook, Twitter, Flipboard, and Pinterest. These streams flow content to us based on the preferences and activities of the customer’s friends.

To reach these new customers, you’re going to need to figure out how to get your message into these streams. Shortly, this evolving consumer is unlikely to come actively looking for you–you’ll just need to be there when the time is right.

Here are a few specific resources to tune your marketing to this emerging online consumer: