Missed Millennial 20/20? Read this!

Representative image : Audience from different demographics (baby-boomers, Gen-X, Millennials, Centennials)

Disclaimer: This article is based on Millennial 20/20 convention and the views of those who attended it.

Credit — CEO and friend Joyeeta Das for her valuable inputs and suggestions.

1. Introduction — Businesses moving from bricks to clicks!

Nowadays, bricks-and-mortar business model is taking a severe hit due to rapidly changing market scenario both in terms of technology as well as target audience. On one side, the world is moving towards being more digital than ever with AI, machine learning, blockchain, mobility solutions, social media boom, IoT etc and on another side, changing demographics of the target audience are a continuous channel. One day they love influencers, another day they kick them out- one day they love politics and another day they only care about Pokemon Go. They are social media driven, have lesser attention span than a goldfish, they don’t trust a brand easily and they are considerate of the social impact of businesses.

2. Challenges faced by businesses in 2017

Challenges faced by businesses in 2017
  • Unpredictability about future — Being able to predict customer trends, market trends, etc. is vital to a changing economic climate. In this digital era, one must have a unified platform which provides analytics at finger tips otherwise seamless predictability across multiple data sources is impossible.
  • Monitoring performance — Most business people are not necessarily experts in data science, how do they avoid the key pitfalls and how to best communicate metrics so that they inform decision-making- do they spend time learning a scientific skill such as data science or do they hire data scientists? What is the right answer? They need a platform that has the capability to generate performance metrics for your business data without ever hiring data scientist teams.
  • Technology adoption — As technologies change practically at the speed of light, it’s vital for companies to innovate or be left behind — but many CEOs started their careers and businesses before many of these technologies even existed!When you can do all data analysis by yourself with help of simple UI is when Big data world has finally evolved to a sophisticated point where difficulty is abstracted away leaving only functionality.
  • Data explosion — 90% of the world’s data was created in the past two years and managing, keeping safe and extracting insights from the ever-increasing amounts of data your company produces needs to be in the hands of a qualified professional who can help you get the most return from that data. You need to generate multiple trends from your internal business data and also understand how external factors like traffic, social media, footfall etc are driving your business data.
  • Customer service — In a world of instant gratification, customers expect instant customer service and now it takes less than 5 min to publish their experience on social media. This could be bane or boon for your business, depending on which side you are on! Constantly tracking sentiment analysis of your customers on your web-based platforms is a key ingredient to overall responsiveness.
  • Maintaining reputation — In a similar vein, because customers can voice any displeasure so much more publicly and loudly than ever before, businesses have to monitor and maintain their online reputations.

3. Case study — John Lewis’ secret to digital marketing success

John Lewis Partnership, John Munnelly, Head of operations — sharing insights on multi-channel customer, sales & support system at Millennial-2020 conference, London

Few top highlights of the case study are as follows:-

  • Multichannel strategy — John Lewis’ multichannel strategy has now evolved to include mobile apps that have inbuilt barcode scanners and store locators, as well as free in-store Wi-Fi, which all helps to boost brand awareness and drive sales across all customer touchpoints.
  • Mobile shopping — John Lewis is the perfect example of a company that has invested in mobile marketing — on Christmas Day of last year, 75% of the company’s online traffic came from mobile devices.
  • Click & collect — In the case of John Lewis, the Click and Collect system was up 60% last year from the previous 12 months. The app also features a barcode scanner so that customers can check online stock of an item they see in the store.
  • Speed — While John Lewis wasn’t a top scorer for speed (six out of ten), the other things to consider are how quick and easy it is the find what you want on the mobile site; something John Lewis is quite good at.
Quick glimpse about millennials and why do they matter so much to businesses (source: http://whymillennialsmatter.com/)

4. Facts about Gen-Y & Gen-Z

4.1 Millennials(Gen-Y)

  • Millennials will make up 50% of the workforce by 2021 and almost 75% by 2025.
  • Millennials make up 21% of consumer discretionary purchases — This is estimated to be over a trillion dollars in direct buying power.
  • 53% of millennial households already have children — This means that within a decade, centennials will also be your target customers.
  • Millennials are 2.5X more likely to be an early adopter of technology than other generations.

4.2. Centennials(Gen-Z)

Representative image of centennials; Born in digital and social era of facebook, Instagram, twitter etc.

Contrary to what many retailers assume, centennials aren’t just a younger version of their millennial predecessors; they have unique habits, ambitions and values. Their population, growing fast, will soon change the way you do business.

  • Centennials comprise a larger population than both millennials and baby boomers. Their numbers will almost double by 2020.
  • Centennials have tremendous buying power — estimated around $44 billion and growing.
  • Centennials’ attention spans are around eight seconds. That’s shorter than a goldfish.
  • Centennials have grown up as children of the Great Recession.
  • Centennials are the first truly digital-native generation. They’ve never lived in a world without the internet or social media.

5. What are top trends and behaviours of Gen-Y & Gen-Z impacting businesses?

From the recent Millennial-2020 conference held in London, here are few insights shared by industry leaders and research platforms about millennials/centennials as follows:-

  • Expect personalised and customised product experiences in return for sharing data (via multiple platforms and wearables). Approx 54 MN smartwatches sold in 2016.
  • Don’t expect a job for life. Changing jobs every 3 years.
  • About 60% of them have done at least one internship.
  • The rise of polymaths (expert in multiple domains).
  • Want to feel passionate about their career.
  • An increase in the number of freelancers and entrepreneurs.
  • Digital age — Extensive use of messaging interfaces like WeChat, Viber, WhatsApp etc.
  • Loves to create and share videos — High use of live streaming & video features in FB, Instagram, Periscope.
  • 67% prefer to talk to bots than human for customer services.
  • Attention span 8 secs or less.
  • The trust factor is all time low — don’t trust in DM by brands rather trust what is being accepted by their friends and family over social media. Hence social acceptance becomes new authentication.
  • Tech savvy — Early adopters of new technology. Technology is embedded part of life and heavily rely on stats and analytics. Apple report 60% increase in the use of Apple pay.
  • Loves cool factor — Snapchat is one of the best examples. They have launched sunglasses fitted with tiny cameras that will allow users to take snaps with their eyewear.
  • Want to follow their heart and more adventurous than ever.
  • Loves to travel and it’s one of the ways they want to understand and learn from practical experiences.
  • Breaking free from all boundaries — Gender, ethnicity, religion doesn’t matter.

6. Solutions — What it means for businesses to understand, connect and engage with this new audience

  • Go online — This is going to be minimal surviving criteria. If you are not online then you are not present. Most of the customers prefer buying online. These days, 51% of Americans prefer to shop online rather than in stores — a figure that jumps to 67% for Millennials and 56% for Gen-Xers. According to some experts, online sales will increase from $335 billion in 2015 to $523 billion in 2020, a rise of 9.32% per year, although the current annual growth rate is actually 14%.
  • Go multi-channel — Identify where your audience is? Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, WeChat etc social platforms. You need to have platform agnostic product solutions and focussed strategies for each media channel. Example: BBC has a huge customer base but recently they targeted Planet earth’s exclusive content for Snapchat in America. Likewise one can use FB’s 360 video solutions if your majority audience is using FB.
  • Customised solutions/content — Creating and customising products/solutions which are relevant and appealing to users is very important to have their attention. This could be in terms of language, content, local preference, demographics, ethnicity, popular social media platform(WeChat) etc. According to the WeChat official data, 76.1% of the users’ age from 22–35, mainly in big cities.
  • Create experiences than just a product/solution — Most of newer technology products like Snapchat, VR, AR, Voice integrated tech (Alexa, GooogleHome) etc. are mostly about cool experiences. You need to create that stickiness factor in your product. Engage with users around their passion points.
  • Product authentication & acceptance — In this digital and social media-driven era, product authentication and acceptance have new meaning. You may have an amazing tech-heavy product but if it’s not cool and socially accepted then most likely it’s not gonna be a success among Gen-Z and Gen-Y. Millennials prefer to share their experiences online and also their purchasing patterns are highly driven by social media recommendations.
  • Seamless end-to-end experiences — Many business industries like Travel, Hotel, Airlines, Retail, Automative etc are reviving their strategy to provide their customers with a unique end-to-end seamless experience. In one of the automotive solutions displayed at M2020 by Accenture, they are automating the whole car buying experience for users by using latest technologies like AR, VR, AI-driven Chatbots etc. Finnair (Finland airline company) talked about making whole end-to-end journey right from onboarding, in-flight food & services to off-boarding a pleasurable experience for each customer.
  • Focus on UX than UI — This is more in terms where a product is expected with almost no bugs and intuitive UI (user interface) considering attention span of millennials. Smart, intuitive and intelligent UI will no longer be of importance in future rather it would be assumed to be present. Therefore, more focus needs to be on UX (user experience). Use latest technology and tools (AI, AR, VR, Voice solutions, ChatBots etc) to provide your customers with a better experience.

Hope readers would find this article useful. Please feel free to share your thoughts, feedback or any related question.

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