New things you need to know about millennial consumers

By Heinz Stephan, Director Consumer Solutions at Westcon-Comstor Southern Africa


Millennials – the generation born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s – are game changers when it comes to how they communicate with businesses, what and how they purchase and what they value most. There are 80 million millennials in America alone, that’s a quarter of the population, with $200 billion in annual buying power.


So, while you may not be a millennial, you need to understand your target market, and as most millennials are now in their 20s and early 30s, they are a market that you should create a relationship with. They are the consumers to watch, weaned on technology and sharing ideas and thoughts on social media, this generation could influence the success or failure of many businesses.


According to Statistics South Africa, Mid-Year population report there are approximately 14,5 million millennials in South Africa, or 26,5 % of the population. Although there are obvious differences between America and South Africa, the mobile revolution has brought more similarities than we might realise.


Forbes partnered with Elite Daily on a comprehensive study about this extremely important customer and I’d like to briefly share these interesting findings with you here.


#1 No advertising please

Millennials aren’t influenced by advertising at all. In fact only 1% of millennials surveyed said that advertising would make them trust a brand more. They believe it’s not authentic and avoid it with things like DSTV’s PVR and Netflix. They will also ignore ads on websites, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with a quick scroll.  


#2 Buy cars. Rent houses.

Many millennials still live with their parents due to the economy and crushing student debt. As such 61% can’t afford a house and would rather own a car – which they need to make money – than own a house, it’s cheaper. Millennials are also getting married, having children and getting decent paying jobs later in life than previous generations.


#3 Blogs are consulted before purchases are made

Millennials look to social media, especially blogs, for an authentic understanding at what’s going on in the world as opposed to older generations that rely on traditional media such as TV news, magazines and books. They especially trust content written by their peers.


#4 Authenticity is more important than content

If a millennial trusts the authenticity of a news source, they will read the content, if not, they won’t bother. Millennials connect best with people over logos. 


#5 Inheritance won’t change their spending habits

While millennials are set to inherit large sums of money from Baby Boomers in upcoming years, 57% say it won’t change their spending habits.


#6 It’s all about social media

62% of millennials admit that if brands engage with them on social media, they are more likely to become loyal customers.


#7 Co-creation

They want to help companies develop future products and services and companies that involve millennials in the product development process will be more successful.


#8 Increasing devices

87% of millennials use between two and three tech devices at least once on a daily basis. 39% are likely to purchase a tablet in the next five years and 30% want wearables. To keep your brand relevant you need to be able to engage with them on new platforms as they’re released.


#9 Loyalty is key

60% of millennials said that they are often or always loyal to brands that they currently purchase. Which means you’d best form a relationship with them sooner, rather than later, because they’ll continue to purchase from you in adulthood.


#10 They expect companies to give back

Two thirds of the millennials surveyed said that it’s fairly or very important that a company gives back to society instead of just making a profit. As Forbes puts it, “They are sick and tired of corporate greed and are still recovering in the aftermath of the financial crisis.”


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