Performance Marketing Expert

Inside the Millennial Mind: Our Consumer Focus Group Tells All

It’s no surprise that millennials are one of the most coveted generations for marketers. Gen Y (defined as those born between 1980 and 1999) represents more than a quarter of the U.S. population, and boasts a total annual buying power of $200 billion.

Recently, Rise sat down with a panel of millennials at our Internet Marketing Leadership Series  (IMLS) Media event in Chicago. The panelists spanned from age 21 to 30, and while not a statistically significant sample size, they shared useful insights into how they interact with brands.

Here’s what they told us:

They spend the majority of their day connected to the digital universe. When asked how much of their day is spent online, the responses ranged from 60 to 90 percent. What do they do within that time? If it’s free time, they will watch TV on their digital devices or play games. But, if they’re out and about, you can find them chatting with friends online, or catching up with contacts on their social networks.

Speaking of social networks, these millennials were partial to Facebook and Twitter, with Snapchat, Instagram and LinkedIn following behind. They explained that in their opinions, Facebook is for keeping up with friends and old classmates, Twitter keeps them updated on the latest trends and stories, Instagram is for photos, and LinkedIn is for business.

While they pay for cable, the group unanimously shared that they do not actually watch TV. They interact with media via tablets, smartphones, and computers. They may watch television shows, but they do it on their own terms, on more portable devices. It’s about three things: having access to what they want, having it when they want it, and being able to choose how they consume it.

Customer service and quality will help build their loyalty to a brand. Our consumer panel shared a variety of reasons they may become loyal to a brand. These include efficient and reliable customer service, product quality, and a good first impression with a realistic and clear description.

Millennials appreciate when brands communicate with them one-to-one. As marketers place more emphasis on personalization and one-to-one communication, it’s important to understand how that communication is being received by target consumers. Our focus group shared that they love when it feels like brands are speaking to them on an individual level.

They don’t mind sharing personal details, if it helps build their brand experience. Our panel also shared that they haven’t experienced a brand that crossed the line of hyper-relevancy to become “too creepy” in its personalized interactions. Millennials have grown up in the digital age, and it seems this has made them expect brands to know about their preferences and habits. They’re willing to share certain details, like email address, date of birth, gender, and income, if the end result adds utility to their lives. However, when it comes to sharing real time information, like location, there’s a bit more hesitancy.

Millennials want a user-friendly experience on retail websites. What do they consider user-friendly? Categories and search functionalities with the ability to pinpoint a search, along with information that is easy to understand, and a streamlined way to contact customer service fit the bill.

Also desired of a site is quality information and suggestions for other products they might be interested in purchasing. As one panelist put it, “They [the brand] need to be shopping along with you.”

If a friend refers them to a product, their first step is to check online reviews.
A few of our panelists head straight to Amazon to check reviews and see more product details. Depending on what the product is, they may check category-specific websites, such as Engadget or Consumer Reports in the case of electronics.

If they like what they see, they typically make a purchase with their credit card (rather than PayPal).

Instant customer service is a must-have. As mentioned earlier, outstanding customer service is a top way to build brand loyalty with this generation. So how do they want to interact with customer service? Most said that they like to chat instantly for support, while email was also mentioned. When they do actually pick up the phone and call someone, it’s a last resort, “because it takes forever.” When asked if they have ever had a good customer service experience via phone, the answer was a unanimous “no.”

If they are shopping in a brick-and-mortar location, their phone is in-hand. The way that they interact with their phones while shopping varies, yet their phones are always close by. One panelist shared that she is often overwhelmed by clothing choices and looks to her friends for help by posting two outfit options on Facebook. Another panelist admitted that he is simultaneously price matching on Amazon while shopping.

They prefer apps to mobile sites, but expect apps to deliver added value, such as better clicking and functionality experiences, along with enhanced search options. However, they don’t want a site’s app to stray too far from the browser experience.

Thanks to our panelists for their candid responses, and also to the marketing leaders who attended Chicago’s IMLS and asked valuable questions. If you are a senior-level marketer, make sure to join us for our IMLS events throughout the year. For more details, visit our IMLS event page.

06/17/2015 at 12:00