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As businesses struggle with a number of challenges from a faltering economy to rising costs, analysts scan what’s happening in the market for reasons behind these challenges. Too often, millennials are labelled the number one suspects behind market shifts, shifts that can cause companies to lose ground or go under altogether.
They’re called “fickle” or “unreliable”; in actual fact, though, despite their spending patterns shifting, they remain your customers. It’s what, and more importantly how, you’re presenting what you have to them that’s important to consider.
Walkman, iPod and streaming
Sony created the Walkman with an ingenious combination of technology and marketing to dominate the market for portable music players, domination that continued through the heydays of the cassette and CD eras until flash memory and digital audio players took the baton from the company. Apple took the baton with the iPod and then the iPod Nano. Those products are now discontinued, with only iPod Touch remaining.
By far the biggest market for music (and music players) is a younger one, and streaming on mobile devices or transferring recorded music files onto those same devices offers ease of access to the market.
In that case, developing technology combined with marketing to the right market with the right concepts and products meant that some products succeeded while others lost popularity. There was no killing-off of products by the market, but rather a natural progression facilitated by companies with the vision to develop what they believed would be adopted.
To use that analogy, then, is your company hawking a Walkman in a music-streaming era?
Let’s say you need to be in touch with your customers directly. If you only have voice as an option — telephone calls via your contact centre — then you’re not speaking the language of your consumers. They may all have devices that can, technically, be used for voice calls, but they’re far more absorbed in the other applications these devices offer – social media, text, chat, email and online interaction.
Millennials could be your biggest market, and it’s of value to bear this in mind
Global developments drive, and are driven by, consumer preferences. Your customers are constantly evolving in how they prefer to do business. These evolving preferences will dictate how you respond, either by strategising to stay relevant or not at all, in which case you will likely see your loyal customers drifting away.
Let’s say you have a brick-and-mortar retail store; ecommerce is rapidly gaining appeal and adoption across multiple segments as consumers become more comfortable with online shopping — have you created an offering that encompasses this change, or are you merely complaining that a younger market is causing the store to fail by shopping differently?
Change isn’t easy — an online retail store is more than just a website, it must have all of the customer service functionality that bricks-and-mortar shop does. That, and more. You’ll need to provide exceptional service across dozens of touch points and in varying combinations of those, and all of that in a seamless fashion that says to your customer, “even though I am online, I feel like I am being served personally, as if they are recognising who I am and what I like”.
There are options that make this easier to do, integrating channels so that whether your customer is enquiring via social media, email (or even voice) they get the seamless, efficient service they want and expect.
Providing options according to your customer’s preferences will be what differentiates you from your competitors, allowing you to grow with your customer base and ensuring your longevity as a company.
Millennials could be your biggest market, and it’s of value to bear this in mind. After all, there’s very little nostalgia for the cassette tape and its inefficiencies, and plenty of love for the immediacy of being able to stream brand new music right away.