Peer to peer: What should my business do to effectively engage with millennials?

Mysterious millennials market is well worth mining 

From left, Rav Hayer, Daniel Eberhard, Aaren Terret 

Rav Hayer - President and CEO, Hayer Builders Group

The millennial market is growing, and the purchasing power of millennials is growing. Tapping into this growing market is key for the success of any business. In my industry, millennials make up 75% of new homebuyers; it’s therefore essential to step outside the box and go beyond what has been done before to attract these buyers.

Have an innovative product that meets your buyer’s needs: Millennials have a different set of priorities than older generations do, and it is important that your product reflect these tastes. Many younger, first-time buyers are single or don’t have families yet and in turn don’t need huge homes. We’ve shifted our design away from the typical three-bedroom setup to respond to the needs of the millennial buyer. For example, our recent Exchange townhome development layouts are smaller and boast urban design features like rooftop patios and modern architecture that have been key to attracting millennials.

Incorporate a social element: We’ve found that creating a sense of community is crucial for attracting the millennial set. These buyers look for social lounges, amenity areas, play areas and gardening plots that encourage neighbours to interact and foster relationships. Additionally, take your social engagement online: social media channels will prove to be an incredibly effective way to communicate your message.

Consider a millennial’s financial situation: Many millennials have well-established careers and credit, but some don’t or might be just starting out and are looking for lower price points to enter the market. We have had great success attracting millennial buyers by offering townhomes at apartment price points. Additionally, being flexible and working hard to help buyers get the financing needed have been key.

Daniel Eberhard - CEO, Koho

I’ve never liked the term “millennials.” Marketing to someone because of his or her age range is too blunt of an approach. Every age group, but especially millennials, has enormous subsets of behaviours. We appeal to a certain lifestyle and way of thinking, one which millennials often embody, but it’s not exclusive to them.

Find a message that makes you unique: Every great brand creates effective emotional connections. For us, we see our generation being sold this notion that you have to get an education, get a spouse, get a mortgage, get a picket fence. What they don’t tell you is that the dynamics of that path are fundamentally different now than they were in the past. A mortgage now requires five years’ more work than it did in 1977 and an extra month of work every year to pay it down. They also don’t tell you that strapping yourself to a plane and waking up in another part of the world is 50% more affordable than it was in 1977.

Start from a point of contrast: If you want to appeal to a new market, you have to set yourself apart. If you’re not significantly different, you’ll end up being an acquisition service company. We’re up against the banks, so we often start from a place of “Would a bank think/talk/act like this?” If it would, then we go back to the drawing board.

Be vulnerable: Millennials don’t want perfection; they want authenticity. In the past, companies would do whatever they could to present themselves as large institutions, believing confidence would win business. The most innovative companies millennials engage with were born from basements, dorm rooms and garages. Presenting yourself as a massive company only isolates you. We let our customers know we are growing and they are part of that growth.  

Aaren Terrett - Sales centre director, O2E Brands

The sales center at O2E Brands, parent company of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, Wow 1 Day Painting, and You Move Me, is made up almost entirely of millennials, so understanding their motivators is essential to the business’ success.

The secret to this success? Tapping into millennials’ need for instant gratification. Millennials tend to be quite impatient and easily bored, so instant and public recognition for a job well done are the best ways to guarantee consistent and sustained motivation.

The introduction of gamification into our sales centre has increased productivity, customer conversion rates and staff morale. The process of gamification sees basic game mechanics and design applied to non-game settings to engage and motivate people to achieve a specific goal.

Monthly, weekly and daily incentives for our sales agents use gamification. We create contests with grand prizes such as Apple products and paid time off to encourage agents to reach targets. In some instances, agents will compete in teams or against some of our top former agents. The winners of the contests are shared immediately among the team, offering instant and public recognition for the agent. In addition, many of our training programs are based around a gamification model. These involve interactive “video game” structures that ensure trainees remain motivated throughout the training process.

In terms of longer-term motivational tactics, offering millennials the opportunity to advance within a company is very effective. Many of the millennials who have worked in the sales centre advance and go on to work in other departments at head office.