It’s easy to still think of Millennials as young adults: high school and college students permanently glued to their iPhones. But in fact, many of them have been out of college for a good 10+ years and are holding down regular 9-5 office jobs just like the rest of us. By 2025, the Millennial generation will represent an estimated 75% of the workforce in the U.S. Which means you’re going to have to adapt your supply chain strategy in order to work with them, interact with them, and sell to them.
Here are 4 ways to sell to a Millennial purchasing manager:
1. Have a Strong Digital Presence
About 70% of people under 35 make purchasing decisions based on online research. Less than half make use of an actual hard catalog. This means that in order to reach them, you need a strong online presence and, in particular, good quality content. Blogs, white papers, product testimonials, and videos are the best way to get Millennials’ attention and keep them informed about your company and products. If not, the traditional forms of communication will most likely be tuned out and ignored.
2. Focus on Technology
Not only is it important to realize that online content is key, it’s also essential to remember that “online” is everywhere now. With smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices, your customers can connect with you anywhere they are and take you with them wherever they go. In fact, according to a study by comScore there are now more mobile-only internet users in the U.S. than desktop PC-only users. This is the first time mobile-only users have surpassed their desktop counterparts.
So what does that mean to your supply chain? You need to start connecting through mobile friendly sites, apps, and social media to keep Millennials engaged and interested. Nothing is worse than having great content but a poor platform that makes visitors immediately turn away- and potentially move on to a competitor. Keep abreast of the latest ways that Millennials are connecting with one another and with other brands, and make them a part of your supply chain strategy.
3. Make Them Part of Something
One of the hallmarks of Millennials is a tremendous sense of community and collaboration. They like to feel that they belong to a team or group that they can identify with. There are a number of ways to incorporate this into your supply chain strategy. First of all, lead nurturing factors into this mindset very heavily. Having a person who talks with them, cares about their situation and needs, and tries to understand and help them solve it, is far more likely to be effective than someone who just tries to sell them a product. Making that connection will go a long way towards earning their trust. Another way that some companies play to Millennials sense of community is to make them feel elite. If you buy this product, you’re part of the privileged few who recognize the superiority of this particular brand and have an instant bond with others who recognize it as well. However, you choose to do it, creating a community or a sense of camaraderie over your brand is a great way of getting Millennials on board.
4. Recognize Their Diversity
The most important thing to remember when selling to Millennial purchasing managers is that they are everyone: men and women, minorities, upper class, lower class, and everything in between. There are some things that set Millennials apart from other groups, such as the fact that they grew up with more technology and tend to be more accepting of it. But it’s a mistake to lump all Millennials into a single box and try to pander to them. They are a very diverse group of people, even more so than other generations and understanding that is the best way to sell to them.
The generation gap between Baby Boomers, or even Gen X, and Millennials, may seem insurmountable at times. However, the Millennial popular is an important part of your consumer base, which means the need to be able to talk to and connect with them, especially as part of your supply chain strategy, is an absolutely necessary one. But don’t worry. These four tips will better help you to adjust to this growing population of purchasing managers.
About Michael Wilson
Michael Wilson is AFFLINK'S Vice President of Marketing and Communications. He has been with the organization since 2005 and provides strategic leadership for the entire supply chain team. In his free time, Michael enjoys working with the Wounded Warrior Project, fishing, and improving his cooking skills.