Customizing Your Business for the Millennials

2014-03-22

Customizing Your Business for the Millennials

Millennials are the future — and there’s no reason not to tap the market starting today.

If you’re not familiar with the term ‘Millennials,’ it refers to the generation that, in the late 80s and early 90s, was called “Generation Y” (because it was the generation after Generation X, naturally.) They’ve earned the nickname because they’re the ones who were reaching maturity around the turn of the millennium. They’re very different from Gen X or the Baby Boomers who came before them — and one of the ways that they’re showing that difference is that they have much less of a drive to own a home. They’re comfortable renting for life, and that makes them ideal customers to target.

Why are they comfortable renting for life? Simply put, they saw what happened as the property market spiked in the mid 00’s, and people were priced out of the market…and then they saw what happened when the market tanked in ’08 and people were economically destroyed because they were home owners. They don’t want to suffer that kind of fate (in either direction), so renting simply seems like a safer, more reasonable alternative. There is no stigma in the Millennial culture to renting; it’s perfectly normal.

In short, the freedom of renting is more valuable than the economic mixed-bag that home ownership turned out to be. The classic five-year plan from college graduation to home ownership has been completely supplanted.

So how do you appeal to a Millennial market? Just follow the trends:

  • People are moving back into the downtown, and Millennials are at the forefront of that movement. They’re interested in community, convenience, and commerce — all of which are fostered by the tightly-packed nature of urban America.
  • High-tech is the new normal, and while the Apple products may be driven by the older generation of early adopters, it’s the Millennials who have taken up the crowdsourced, collaborative Android market and marched it forward with gusto. They’re looking for property that’s Wi-Fi ready if not Wi-Fi enabled, they’re looking for a property manager who will let them pay online, and they’re looking for a place with cable and/or DSL internet access.
  • It’s Getting Easier Being Green, and the Millennials are happy to contribute. They generally won’t demand services like recycling and clean energy options and probably won’t pay much more if anything for them, but they will absolutely consider such things to be good reasons to choose one property over another similar one.
  • They value flexibility, especially with time and money, often expressing their dissatisfaction with traditional work schedules, big-business banking options, and so on. Offering them alternative ways to hold up their obligations to you — like allowing them to pay rent in weekly chunks instead of one big monthly bill — can be a big draw for the Millennial audience.

Of course, there exceptions to every rule, and there are in fact plenty of Millennials who don’t hold true to every (or any!) generalization made of the several dozen million of them — but playing the odds can’t hurt. Set up a property with the Millennials in mind, and your chances of keeping your tenants over multiple years will improve significantly.

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