They are one of the most tech savvy generations of our day, glued to their smart phones and addicted to the latest and greatest new technology. But they can also be one of the most difficult generations to understand and market to… Millennials. Understanding this complex and elusive generation can pose a real challenge for today’s marketers. So how can companies peel back the layers of these enigmatic consumers and develop a true understanding of this crucial under-30 market? Perhaps it’s time to listen.
In a recent article by Entrepreneur Magazine, Michele Serro, a former associate partner at IDEO, a leading design and innovation consulting firm, and founder of New York City-based Doorsteps, an online tool for prospective homeowners that targets young buyers, shares her perspective on understanding this mysterious market.
“What you’ve heard from the millennial consumer from the start should be what you repeat back to them,” says Serro. “For example, if your customers are most concerned about convenience or reliability, then emphasize those qualities in your marketing. You’re not telling them a story about what they should want or need, you are simply showing that they’ve been heard.”
In order to repeat what’s been heard, you must first begin with sincere listening. As it turns out, this uber-connected; cyber generation simply desires for their voice to be heard and experience a personal, human connection. Qualitative research can provide the ideal setting and human experience that millennials long for. Here are a few examples.
Methods for Unveiling Millennial Consumer Behavior
1. In-Store Intercepts: One excellent method for revealing a genuine glimpse of millennial behavior is right at the source in the in-store setting. It is the ideal place to get at the core of what matters to your consumer. Moderators are experts at observing and thoughtfully engaging consumers at the moment of product selection to reveal truths about what motivates purchase.
2. Ethnographic Studies: Another excellent way to provide a human connection with millennial consumers is ethnographic studies. This method provides a holistic view of consumers in the context of their daily lives—where they live, work, play and shop. It allows researchers to observe how millennial consumers actually use and experience products and services in their own environment, to determine patterns of usage, current level of satisfaction, unmet wants and needs, and suggestions for improvement.
Understanding Millennials takes far more than guesswork. It takes creativity, patience and the humility to listen and observe. If you take the time to understand your millennial consumers on a deeper level, you will lift the veil of mystery and discover valuable insights that lead to real business opportunities.