Meet the Millennials – The Future of Your Business

Meet the Millennials, The Future of Business | via TAPED, the ECHOtape blog

I’m going to shoot from the hip here and be totally transparent — one of  the biggest issue my business, your business, every business has right now isn’t tech support or customer service or increasing revenue. It’s Millennials, a.k.a. Gen Y or Generation Flux as Fast Company calls them, and they have us flummoxed.

Being able to compete and survive in today’s economy means understanding who your client is and what motivates them. And, like it or not, millennials are our new clients. So… who are they?

How Millennials Will Millennials Impact Your Business | via TAPED, the ECHOtape blog | infographic via
Inside the Millennial Mind Infographic via


In short:

  • Millennials are people born between 1979 and 2000, approximately.
  • There are more than 80 million of them. This makes their generation larger than Baby Boomers and 20 percent bigger than Generation X.
  • Millennials as a whole are more racially and ethnically diverse than previous generations, and make up 25 percent of the U.S. population.
  • Currently, Millennials have 21% of consumer discretionary purchases, which is estimated over a trillion dollars in direct buying power.

To a traditional business like ours, this may seem a very scary reality. Here’s why:

“‘Our whole consumer model is based on the baby boom,’ said Diane Swonk, chief economist for Mesirow Financial. Now, the coming generation is ‘setting up a whole new consumer model.’

Perhaps the biggest change is that today’s young adults — in part because they came of age in a harsher economic climate, in part because they have many more choices — are putting off major life decisions as well as the big purchases that typically go with them. As a result, their consumer behavior is unpredictable. ‘They’ve learned to live life in a different way”…

Here’s the good news. The very same thing was said about the Baby Boomers back in the 1960s. Businesses adjusted, {hello, Mad Men!} and were eventually better off for it. I’m choosing to believe that the Millennial paradigm shift will prove to be the same. Adjusting the way we market and sell to this group is one of the biggest challenge we’re facing as a company, but here’s what we are choosing to do.

1. Be genuine. Be social.  

If you’re thinking “easier said than done”, I get it. It’s overwhelming. Just as we’re getting the hang of Facebook and Twitter, there’s Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat and Vine. And yes, something new will pop up next week. Rather than burying our head in the sand, we’ve just decided to focus on a select few channels for now, and then slowly manage more. If it’s appropriate. And that’s really the key.

The adhesive tape business is not sexy or glamorous, so it was hard for us to imagine fulfilling the viral-worthy, image-centric requirements of social media. But we received some clever advice from our social media experts we trust: don’t overthink it. Share relevant company news, encourage warehouse staff to snap humorous outtakes (think blooper reel!), highlight positive reviews and even share fun office culture photos… there’s nothing more genuine than that.

Why should you care? Thanks to social media channels largely populated by this generation, consumers (read: peers) and not-traditional media outlets are becoming the primary source of information on products and services. But here’s the rub – they are more likely to buy your product if they like your brand personally as opposed to liking that slick new advertising campaign or brochure. My advice? Develop a relationship, not an ad campaign.

2. Embrace Authentic Causes

September 11.  Bernie Madoff. The collapse of corrupt financial institutions. A recession. An ongoing war. Millennials have come of age amidst national, and global, turmoil, which is why more than any generation before them, they appreciate and require authenticity and transparency from the brands with which they do business.

That said, they also believe doing well by doing good, choosing to support companies that invested in causes they care about. Authenticity in this area is crucial. If your only reason for promoting a cause is to make a profit, Millennials will see right through it and your business will suffer.

As a family-owned and operated business, ECHOtape has always worked to transform the lives of families, be it in our business, in the community, or worldwide.  We are completely transparent and clear in how we are contributing to this cause and have found it to be a great way to connect on a more personal level with our customers.

My advice? Remain transparent and authentic by keeping everyone updated on what you’ve done so far, how you will continue to help, and how others can get involved

3. Integrate Technology into Your Business

According to Nielsen, more than 74 percent of the millennial generation feel that new technology makes their lives easier. Here at ECHOtape, integrating technology is business critical, but that’s challenging. It requires additional staff and new budget line items that really don’t have the ROI to support it. Yet. But we know it’s coming, so we are adapting now with small, manageable changes. And you can too. Start by helping customers easily schedule services through your website, or facilitate communication via email and social media. Then start thinking about what’s next. For us, that may mean real-time shipping updates or even an on-demand field application app, we’re not sure. But it’s a lively and interesting discussion, taking place online and off.  And if you’re 18-37, we’d love to hear your thoughts!