Millennials Aren't Coming... They're Here (Are You Ready?)
by Matt Johnson, on
I know... you're sick of hearing it, right? These entitled, self-absorbed, "kids" are one day going to be your customers, and you better get ready to meet them on their terms. The story has been written time and again. Not unlike the nut on the corner wearing the sign that reads "THE END IS NEAR", marketers and business analysts have been forecasting the change in the buyer journey for years. Are you ready? The millennials are not coming... they're already here. And that's not a bad thing... it's an opportunity.
At the risk of beating a dead horse, I want you to watch this video (1:33), and listen very closely...
We heard this interview on one of our favorite podcasts, featuring an interview with Jason Falls, author, digital strategist, keynote speaker, and thought leader.
Did you hear what he said? Yea.. yea... the millennials are coming. But more than that! They are already here, with buying power.
If you were listening closely, you will take note that he said traditional industries (financial services, insurance, healthcare) -- ehem -- Industrial Supply, are "behind everybody else by a half decade or so".
He goes on (speaking about millennials):
These people consume their information very differently than the boomer generation, or even generation X... If you haven't already made adjustments, you will start to see declining returns.
In summary, if you have not already changed the way you go to market, with the Millennial Industrial Buyer in mind, you're going to see your growth slowed... and worse... you will inevitably start to shrink as business moves away from traditional retailers to those who "get millennials" and have learned to speak their language.
Being the ever-optimist, I want to convince you why this is a HUGE opportunity for industrial suppliers and retailers. Are you open-minded? Good! Then here's 3 BIG reasons why the millennial buyer journey is your ticket to establishing a competitive advantage:
1. Big Box Retailers Are Too Big and Too Slow to Adapt
One of the reasons why the Big Box Stores have dominated our industry is man-power. They literally have a sales rep on every street. That has worked. It's been hard to compete with a nearly omnipresent sales force. But like the dinosaurs, their size and inability to adapt are their weaknesses.
Our millennial buyers really do not like unannounced salesmen coming to cold-sell them industrial supplies. They want to make educated purchases on their own terms online. Oh, and they hate Wal-Mart. Too many choices and a bad experience!
Millennials are well adept at seeking out and engaging specialists who offer a seamless buying experience, a cultured brand, and a thoughtful content strategy.
They're not interested in a handshake and a 2,000 page catalog. They want social media and ecommerce websites that help them make choices quickly.
2. The Landscape is Ripe for Thought Leadership
Industrial safety and supply is a dry, barren land where very few content publishers and thought leaders exist to provide thirst-quenching educational material.
Our millennials research like crazy before they make a buying decision. They grew up with the internet, they don't need anyone to remind them, "hey, you might be able to find some info about that product online". Been there, done that, wrote the code.
The major question for YOUR business, is how will they ever find you if they don't pick up the phone?
The best way to make your industrial supply business "discoverable" by millennials, is to publish consistent, helpful content on your company's website or blog.
3. The Longer You Wait, the Harder it Will Be to Change
This is actually a huge opportunity for smaller, independent suppliers and distributors. The big guys have already written their marketing budget and can't make a fast move to change their strategy. The big guys minimize the new buyer's journey, and think they will overcome the issue by sheer man-power.
Big will soon become a liability when selling to millennials. Just look around. Craft beer. Craft soda. Local sourced food. Independent music. Shop local... and it goes on and on.
The longer more traditional companies wait to adapt, the harder it will be to attract a millennial audience.
Are you having this conversation with your leadership team? How are you going to adapt quickly knowing that the millennial buyers aren't coming... they're already here.