How marketers can avoid losing the younger generation

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Many marketers are obsessed with this younger generation, aged 18-35. They watch their every move on social, hoping to find what truly makes them tick – and, more importantly, what triggers them into making purchase decisions.

Marketers know this is not an easy task. Digital natives are a finicky bunch. They demand instant-gratification-like service and attention from brands at every twist and turn. Growing up in an era when practically every transaction is now automated by digital media in some way has taught the younger generation to be impatient consumers. And, for better or worse, this trend will only continue to grow as this generation of consumers matures.

So marketers need to get ahead of the curve before they are thrown another generational curve ball. Here are a few tips to help win over the much coveted digital consumer.

Be everywhere (or, be everywhere that matters)

This generation bounce from computers to mobile devices to connected TVs to wearables (and more) multiple times along their path to purchase. Single channel marketing strategies can’t break through all this noise.

Brands need to be present in all the right places in order to capture and keep the attention of digital consumers at the very moment they’re ready to purchase. As Google puts it, people today live in micro-moments. Brands now must play a part in those moments to stay relevant.

Be authentic

Just as important as it is for brands to stay top-of-mind by diversifying their channel strategy, they also have to walk the fine line of not going overboard with non-stop promotions. Generation X want companies to engage with them and make them feel like they are a valued part of your brand.

A promotional message holds a lot value when, for example, you reach a shopper in-store with a strong mobile ad, but turning a younger consumer into a brand loyalist requires a lot more than that. They want to mean more to you than just a simple purchase. A lot of brands are vying for their attention.

Those that reach and engage them on a more personal and meaningful level will win the battle for their long-term loyalty.

Be service-oriented

18-35 year olds will avoid contacting customer service at any cost. They’ve been raised with technology and expect brands to use technology to make it easier for them to find solutions on their own.

Their mindset is this: why waste time on the phone with someone who may or may not be able to help when they can easily find the information they need by themselves? Brands need to take this insight to heart.

If a company’s website, social channels, or mobile app isn’t up to snuff, there’s no better time than now to invest in retooling every digital customer interaction a brand has, with a focus on self-service.

Be responsive

Because Gen X consumers tend to be connected to a device (or two) at all times, it’s pretty safe to say that they’ll be quick to reach out to a brand to praise, complain, ask a question, and everything in between – all the while requiring an almost immediate response when they do. Digital natives are “real-time consumers.”

Patience is not their greatest virtue. On-demand expectations have become the norm for them. Technology is both their greatest ally and most divisive crutch. The message is clear: be ready and resourced to respond, fast.

Every minute sans response is an opportunity to visit a competitor.

Be community-focused

If a brand is host to an online community, this is a great way to crowdsource feedback and suggestions.

Around 42% of 18-35 year olds say they are interested in helping companies develop future products and services. Brands should welcome this, and figure out how to harness the voice of the customer. This is a great way to turn a simple fan into a long-term loyalist.

But an online community is also a space where consumers can talk to each other, answer each other’s questions, and collaborate on content or solutions. In fact, 84% of Gen X say user-generated content has some influence on what they buy.

So while taking the time to ensure the brand is ready to meet the ever-changing wants, needs, and expectations of savvy and sometimes skeptical digital native consumers, brands shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that their peers can oftentimes be their greatest source of influence.

An online community is fertile ground for this kind of valuable engagement.

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