The Millennial Consumer

The Millennial Consumer

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The Millennial Consumer

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    Staying on Top of the Trendsetters

    So what does all this mean for companies and their brands? For some, a fundamental reinvention may be in order. For instance, brands that target teenagers, college students, or young adults may have to be rethought for each successive generation. In other cases, companies may need to figure out how to introduce their brands to Millennials at the appropriate life stage. And for others still, reaching Millennials may simply require more relevant and resonant marketing messages. Some brands—such as Nike and Sony—are favorites among U.S. Millennials and non-Millennials alike and must try to remain so. Others, such as Target and Apple, appear to have a particular edge with Millennials. (See Exhibit 4.)


    Mindful of the value and opportunities that Millennials present, forward-looking companies are planning ahead and taking action. In the area of marketing, content and delivery platforms already reflect the Millennial influence. Companies in the financial services and travel industries are beginning to rethink their business models and offerings, particularly where capital investment is involved. American Express, for instance, has already set up a digital-payment platform as an alternative to traditional credit cards to attract the under-35 demographic.

    Amex has also partnered with Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare to move beyond its older, more affluent customer base. Many companies are setting up Millennial advisory boards, changing their organization structures, and creating new in-house groups to focus on Millennials. Other businesses are reevaluating their service models, retail formats, and delivery channels in light of the needs and interests of this generation. And companies that must maintain their core while refreshing their franchise are experimenting with entirely new brands or lines of business.

    Non-Millennial executives should examine their own attitudes toward the Millennials. Companies that fail to understand and embrace the needs and characteristics of this generation will have a hard time developing well-targeted, appealing products and services. Some may argue that the peak spending years of the Millennials are far enough in the future that companies can take their time in developing products and services that will appeal to them. But we believe that staying on top of Millennial trends is critical because they will ultimately influence today’s big spenders, the 35- to 74-year-old non-Millennials. Millennial attitudes in such areas as media consumption, social-media usage, advocacy and cause marketing, marketing messages, and shopping technology are leading indicators of future trends. Companies that pay attention today can gain valuable insights into tomorrow’s opportunities—and get a head start on capturing a larger share of the Millennial wallet.