According to a report released by the Boston Consulting Group, millennials will outnumber baby boomers 78 million to 56 million by 2030, and they are starting to form brand and shopping preferences that will likely stick with them for a lifetime. Marketers have to evolve and be much more interactive to attract and retain millennial consumers. Gone are the days of commercials and print media ads; millennials drive and demand a two-way, reciprocal marketing approach. Brands of all sizes try to connect with millennials to understand what drives their attitudes and behaviors, but unfortunately millennial voices are often underrepresented within typical marketing research forums.
I’m currently teaching Consumer Insights at Northern Kentucky University. On a recent test I asked students to describe and discuss some of the challenges facing the marketing research industry. The answer from one of my millennial students, Nick Johnson, really sums up why it is so hard to connect with millennials:
Some challenges of the marketing research industry include the change in technology and the generation of the millennials. In regards to technology, there are some benefits: quick survey feedback, up-to-date social media data, and the ability to easily send out surveys to individuals. However, technology comes with many challenges including how fast it is changing. One day technology may be leaning towards mobile devices, the next day it could be leaning towards desktop devices. Technology is growing no doubt, so trying to tap into it and use it is a challenge that marketers are trying to evolve into. Another challenge is the generation of millennials: those 18-34 year olds. It seems like in all my marketing classes we discuss how marketers find millennials hard to understand. That is because millennials constantly evolve with their environment. They change their trends constantly and aren't living like other generations do. Technology plays a large role in this, and these two factors cause a great deal of stress to researchers everywhere.
Millennials are driving change across marketing research; they are tech savvy and are much quicker to evolve than our industry. To capture the opinions of millennials, research methods need to be adjusted to better fit their preferred communication styles and mediums. Right now this means short, mobile friendly surveys, but it also means keeping an eye on their evolution and quickly adjusting as their expectations change and they adopt new technology.