In this guest post, Zach Hotchkiss (pictured below), country manager at CX management company Medallia, offers his tips to snare, keep and then turn Gen Ys into your brand’s advocates…
It seems not a day goes by without an article about the brands and industries Millennials are killing off. From retail to transport to banks, the sectors that these 20- and 30-somethings are rethinking would appear endless.
Many marketers could be forgiven for thinking that brand loyalty among Millennials is dead. However, research from around the world reports that the opposite is in fact the case. Millennials are actually the most loyal generation of buyers, with more than 50 per cent reporting that they’re extremely or quite loyal to their favourite brands. Furthermore, 64 per cent in this age group rate themselves as more loyal to a brand than their parents’ generation.
For brands, targeting this increasingly influential group is not a nice to have but a must have. Macquarie’s equity strategists predict that between now and 2030 the proportion of Australians who turned 18 after 2000 will grow four fold and account for 54 per cent of the population.
In addition, two out of every three dollars earned in Australia will accrue to those who reached adulthood in the digital age. Millennials and the rising influence of Gen Z should already be fully baked into brand strategy, because if it isn’t, the train may have already left the station.
Millennials and Gen Z are happy to give feedback, offering it on review sites and through social media whenever they have a meaningful brand experience. The key to creating brand advocates from this lucrative demographic is parsing through these data streams to gain insights. There are three key practices that can help marketers leverage their customer data and insights to understand how millennials buy, build relationships that create brand advocates, and drive successful outcomes.
1. Commit to innovative customer experiences.
Walk into an Apple store and what do you see? A sea of usually young, energetic workers ready to engage and help their customers. Someone is always available to answer a question, and Apple has removed the most annoying part of shopping — waiting in long checkout lines. In fact, anyone with an Apple Store app can check themselves out and walk out of the store completely in control of their purchase.
Millennials look for a mix of independence and quality human interaction, and this approach delivers both. Creating an innovative customer experience relies, in many ways, on a company’s willingness to experiment. Marketers should look through as much customer data as possible to see where their pain points are and determine if they can be assuaged by tools that empower younger buyers to own more of the customer experience.
2. Provide peer-to-peer employee feedback.
There’s a lot of research available stating that millennials crave feedback in the office. For those working in retail, this feedback should come not just from management, but also from customers. This feedback loop helps to foster an authentic connection between the brand and its customers. To maximise feedback from millennials in a retail setting, companies should capture data coming from their customers and connect it back to their employees immediately for self-coaching. In addition, this data can be valuable during employee reviews as a part of development plans and recognition. That way a clear message is sent to both customers and employees that their input is valuable enough to share and makes a difference.
3. Create communities and human interactions.
A study from UK market research agency Harris, reveals that 72 per cent of Millennials would rather spend money on experiences than material goods. Knowing that Millennials thrive on experiences, brands must deliver something more than just a product purchase transaction — even if it is well executed. Retailers have two communities: the local store and the distributed brand. Create communities by evolving offerings and experiences that both drive consumers to the store and elevate them to crave the brand.
Makeup retailer Sephora continues to innovate on this front by doubling down on in-store services that not only make its Beauty Insider loyalty members eager to visit its stores, but create raving fans of the brand.
Creating an in-store community produces energy that’s infectious and even addictive — quite positive for bringing in valuable foot traffic. Successful brands are curating experiences memorable enough to be Instagram-worthy and helping spread the message in communities far and wide. This is critical, as we know 56 per cent of young buyers make purchases based on recommendations from friends or family.