With over 83 million individuals in the United States born between 1982 and 2000, the “millennial” generation makes up more than one-quarter of the U.S. population and has surpassed baby boomers to represent the country’s largest generational demographic.
Fortunately for small business owners, buying patterns have consistently shown a preference among millennials for patronizing small businesses, as compared with other generations. This generation has made it clear – millennials love small business.
To help your small business appeal to millennial consumers, read on to understand why this generation loves smaller companies and learn what your business can do to attract and retain them as customers.
Why Millennials Love Small Business
1. Millennials Like to Shop Local
Millennials have a strong sense of community and like to feel connected to the products and services they buy. Because of this, they’ll consider spending more at the store down the street than they may with a large corporation or chain.
2. Millennials Are Drawn to Personalization and Customization
Millennials don’t want to feel like they are one of the masses. Millennials want to feel unique and heard when shopping. They want customized products and personalized experiences that smaller businesses are much more likely to provide.
3. Millennials Like Casual Cultures
Gone are the days of suits and ties for this generation. When millennials walk into a small business, they want to feel at home. The more relaxed they are, the more likely they’ll be to buy from you. Millennials don’t want to feel pressured in a purchasing situation. They want the casual, comfortable ambiance that small companies can more easily provide.
4. Millennials Like to Give Back
Millennials have a soft spot in their hearts for giving back to the community and for rooting for the underdog. If they had it their way, Small Business Saturday would be every day. Putting their dollars to the smaller mom and pop shops makes millennials feel better than if they spent the same money on products and services from a larger business.
5. Millennials Like Sharing Experiences
For millennials, image matters. They’ve grown up with social media and have a love of sharing the many details of their lives with friends and family. Because they want to share content that showcases their own unique personality and experiences, sharing a new find from a local boutique is more appealing to their audiences than a selfie at a department store that you can find in Anywhere USA.
6. Millennials Want to Work for Small Businesses
A big reason that millennials support small businesses is because they want to work for small businesses. This generation seeks opportunities that small businesses can provide more easily than larger companies such as bigger responsibilities earlier on and the ability to work on their own terms.
7. Millennials Want to Be Small Business Owners
Not only do millennials want to work for small businesses, they also want to start their own small business! 75% of millennials want to work for themselves someday, so when they see a small business in the making, they want to support it as an act of comradery.
8. Millennials Want to Shop With People They Trust
The recession made a huge impact on millennials who were just starting to enter the workforce, causing many to find large businesses and corporations untrustworthy. Small businesses are more likely to come off as real and authentic to their consumers, which aligns with the ideals of this generation.
9. Millennials Want to Know the Origin of Their Purchases
Like the growing farm-to-table trend in the restaurant business, the idea of knowing where your products and services are coming from is becoming an increasingly hot topic that millennials are interested in.
10. Millennials Want to Be Brand Loyalists
Millennials like to be a part of something. If your small business grabs their attention and offers a product or service they’re passionate about or perhaps support a local cause or community effort, a millennial will become not only a customer but a brand advocate as well.
How to Win a Millennial’s Business
It’s clear that millennials love small businesses, so how does your business go about attracting these customers? Consider the tips below:
Offer Customer WiFi and Other Amenities – Millennials are always connected, so make sure it’s easy for them to stay connected from within your business, sharing their buying recommendations with friends and family.
Get Social – Millennials live on social media. To get their attention, make sure your brand has a presence on the platforms where your audience frequents the most. Don’t just post about your company. Engage with these millennials and respond to their comments. Have conversations with them and build relationships. The more emotional they feel towards your business, the more likely they’ll be to buy from you.
Use Discounts and Coupons – Millennials are always looking for a good deal. Since millennials love personalization, make sure the coupons and discounts are relevant to their wants and needs.
Do Something Buzzworthy – If your business does something eye-catching, such as a flash mob or a YouTube worthy stunt, millennials will want to get involved with your business. They love being associated with something that others are talking about.
Embrace Your Brand’s Personality – Be authentic. Know who your brand is so millennials know who you are as well.
Have a Cause You Care About – If you practice social responsibility and have a cause or mission people care about, they’ll be more likely to care about your company as well.
Embrace Customization – Invest in technology that allows you to monitor millennials’ purchasing habits and interests so you can provide them with a personalized experience every time they engage with your business.
If you’re a small business that hasn’t tried to reach the millennial market, you may be missing out on a number of opportunities and benefits this generation can provide for you. Follow the steps above to get started and see how this audience can help your small business grow.
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