Whether or not Millennials and Gen-Z are creatures of superior sophistication will make for a lively discussion around a Bridge-table. However, if you are an online service provider, that conversation is irrelevant. The First Digital Natives and their on-line habits are a given and if you like to do business, this customer, who currently holds the biggest purchasing power of any generation, is always right.
The trend of moving shopping and services on-line was already firmly established before Covid, but the pandemic has speeded up a process that was already unfolding. Unlike older consumers, who were not born with an app in their hand, Millennials have a profound understanding of how technology can serve them and that’s what they expect it to do. Just like no car-maker today would try to sell a vehicle with a hand-crank, the digitally fluent will expect all on-line presences to be fully updated. After all, Millennials now do more than 54% of their shopping on-line. 67% of Millennials prefer to do their shopping online rather than in stores. And 45% of Millennials prefer buying online because it enables them to compare products and prices.
One difference between older users and the fully digitalized users is that the older user, using a service or making on-line purchases, is focused on getting a task done. While Millennials and younger see online shopping as an experience. These digital natives also expect to be able to communicate with others. For the younger user, sharing is an integral part of digital life and the natural way to gather and disseminate information. Checking data, comparing prices, reading and writing reviews, locating discounts and other benefits, sounding out ideas with communities and peers, maintaining club memberships and reward programs are all a routine part of life with, and on, the Internet. Research shows that the digital generation is also more conscientious about the products they buy and less impulsive in their buying habits. Having an eCommerce website is no longer enough. As the saying goes – you can lead a Millennial to a Website, but you can’t make them shop. That is, of course, unless said Website can deliver (pun intended).
Millennials have great buying power and they are informed users. It is easy for pre-Millennial decision-makers to shrug off “today’s youth”. But the insightful amongst them are those who already now understand that the Millennial vision and expectations, is what the future will look like. The responsive on-line-provider will listen, learn and profit – not only financially, but by participating in turning the Internet into a medium that connects and empowers.