It wasn’t hard to notice the economic downturn and the effect it had on society. While the economy might have recovered, there are still vestiges of this downturn left on customer behavior, especially on customers who came of age during the recession. Much has been written about millennials and their behavior, with some decrying them as the worst generation ever and others lauding their unique perspective and working style. Here’s what you want to know, however: what do they look for in a company?
If it’s your job to get millennials to buy your product, you have already tried to decode their spending habits, have spent hours reading through demographic information. On many fronts, it appears that their spending habits are totally random—but the truth is that most of these customers are looking not to obtain a “thing” but rather to obtain “an experience.”
This isn’t exactly new behavior. In every generation, there is a return to the experience mindset and a rejection of blatant commercialism, but it is especially potent in this new generation that came of buying age during a time when the vast majority of them had much less money than previous generations would have at the same age. They want sustainability—not just in the products, but in their own lives. They don’t want the disposable lifestyle they saw older generations lead. They want a real experience. This is how you reach out to this generation.
Today’s consumer believes that experiences enrich your lives, therefore making them more valuable than things that sit around your house. They are more concerned with the function of the product than a designer label or high price tag.
There’s psychology to support this widespread assumption, obviously. All people are happier when they spend their money on experiences than on stuff, according to a 2015 report by Mintel. But how does this translate into your marketing?
Look at brands like Chipotle. If a customer just wanted a cheap taco, there are probably about six fast food places within driving distance of any Chipotle that sell much cheaper tacos. But Chipotle is a brand that is making money hand over fist (even with some recent food poisoning scares). Why is this fast food brand cutting into the market of much better established brands like Taco Bell? Because they offer not just a product, but an experience. Not only do they market themselves as being an organic, healthy choice, customers actually get to customize their meal every single time they go through the line. At the register, customers aren’t just handed a bag of greasy tacos—they are handed something they created, with an “all-natural” feel.
This isn’t a stunt and it isn’t even necessarily just a marketing tactic. Today’s consumer wants to do business with companies that actually care about the world they’re living in. Of course, companies will therefore try to make themselves into that kind of company in order to attract the attention of those consumers. But it’s important to keep in mind that today’s consumer is also an expert at identifying fraudulence. If you want to provide your customers with an experience (and you should), it has to be an authentic one. Here’s how:
1. The experience doesn’t need to be big or complex
Especially if you are a company that, at face value, sells products, there’s no reason to try to sell your customers on a big, complicated experience that doesn’t actually match what you’re offering. What you can do, on the other hand, is build a brand experience that parallels the size and scope of your business. Think of it as part of your brand persona.
What experience are you presenting your customers as they get to know your business? What experience are you touting if they buy your product?
2. Don’t get too fancy
Many businesses try to go above and beyond, especially when it comes to giving their customers an experience on a website. But it’s important to remember that the majority of people who find you are going to be finding your website are going to be doing it on a mobile device. Getting too complicated with your experience is actually going to work against you. Building an experience on your website doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to overuse technology. You should presenting the experience, showing how your product or service can improve the life of a potential customer, not necessarily trying to create an overwhelming experience just on your website.
3. Work on being customer-centric
You should already have an idea of how your product is going to improve the life of the person who buys it. This is what you should build your experience around. You’ve probably already seen companies that effective present the experience they hope their customers will have with their product or service and those who totally misrepresent themselves and the experience. Think of your customers first and remember that they are human and that you want to appear human, too. Understanding what they want, what they are willing to spend for what kind of experience, and how they define value will be integral to creating an experience they are going to be willing to pay for.
Every industry is as different as the people they serve. So, what things have you found to be helpful in improving the experience that your customers will have with your product or service? Let me know in the comments or, tweet to me directly at @ChrisIsBald.