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What Buying Habits Tell Marketers About Each Generation

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What Buying Habits Tell Marketers About Each Generation

Each generation has unique experiences, lifestyles, and demographics that influence their buying behaviors, financial experts say. And studies show these distinguishing factors often lead to different spending habits between generations.
As a result, many companies are reaching out to consumers and trying to understand — and gain the attention of — these diverse buyers, says Gui Costin (www.guicostin.com), an entrepreneur, consultant and author of Millennials Are Not Aliens.
“This type of multi-generational marketing is the practice of appealing to the unique needs and behaviors of individuals within different generational groups,” says Costin. “In terms of finding and retaining buyers, companies cannot underestimate those generational differences.”
Costin discusses how the buying habits of different generations are influenced by environmental factors and how businesses must focus their marketing efforts accordingly:
Millennials. Now comprising the highest percentage of the workforce, this generation (born roughly from 1981 to 1995) receives considerable marketing attention. Many millennials grew up immersed in the digital world — a big difference from previous generations — and they think globally. “Attract this group early and earn its loyalty by appealing to their belief that they can make the future better,” Costin says. “Traditional mass marketing approaches do not work well with younger consumers. Be sure they know that your organization’s mission speaks to a purpose greater than the bottom line, e.g., globalization and climate change. Give them systematic feedback because they value positive reinforcement at accelerated rates and want more input.” 
Generation X. Following the baby boomers and preceding the millennials, their tastes are different from previous generations. “Because they have greater financial restraints, they often shop at value-oriented retailers,” Costin says. “On the other hand, they have a reputation of being incredibly disloyal to brands and companies. Generation Xers like initiatives that will make things more useful and practical. They demand trust to the extent that if your organization does not follow through once, then you are likely to lose them.”
Baby Boomers. This demographic group, with many now in retirement or nearing it, includes those born from 1946 to 1964. Health is a major concern, and change is not something they embrace. “They appreciate options and want quick fixes that require little change and instant improvement,” Costin says. “They do not like bureaucracy — but give them a cause to fight for and they will give their all. Focus on building value and they will be less price-sensitive. While this group may be aging, they’re focused on breaking the mold of what 60 and beyond looks like.” 
The Silent Generation. Born between 1925 and 1945, this group represents the oldest Americans and, Costin says, typically is labeled with traditional values such as discipline, self-denial, hard work, conformity, and financial conservatism. “It’s important to earn their trust,” says Costin, “as they believe that a person’s word is his or her bond. Patriotism, team-building, and sacrifice for the common good are appealing to this generation. As a group, they aren’t particularly interested in the information age; however, the younger members of this generation are one of the fastest-growing groups of internet users.”
“Communicating with customers in different generations can be challenging,” Costin says. “However, all generations appreciate honesty and authenticity. As environmental factors change, transparency and genuine interactions remain important to everyone.”

Gui Costin (www.guicostin.com), author of the No. 1 Bestseller Millennials Are Not Aliens, is an entrepreneur, and founder of Dakota, a company that sells and markets institutional investment strategies. Dakota is also the creator of two software products: Draft, a database that contains a highly curated group of qualified institutional investors; and Stage, a content platform built for institutional due diligence analysts where they can learn an in-depth amount about a variety of investment strategies without having to initially talk to someone. Dakota’s mission is to level the playing field for boutique investment managers so they can compete with bigger, more well-resourced investment firms.

How Millennials Are Changing The Investment Game

Millennials are on the verge of becoming big players in the investment field.

Baby boomers, according to Forbes, are about to pass an estimated $30 trillion in assets down to millennials within the next few years. This generational transfer of wealth gives millennials many options on investing — starting with the investment firms they choose.

Understanding millennials’ mindset on investing and, just as importantly, learning their personality traits, preferences and dislikes, are crucial to any investment firm seeking to help them allocate their assets. For starters, millennials’ approach to investing is distinct to previous generations, and they handle money and choose the people who they entrust with that money very differently, too.

Those factors will have several ramifications for how assets are allocated in the next three, five, 10, 20, and 30 years. That’s why discovering how to connect with millennials so that they feel confident enough to trust you with their funds is critical.

How do millennials differ from previous generations, including their investment approach? Here are some revealing distinctions:

They’re more entrepreneurial. Whereas their parents, baby boomers, valued job stability and scaling the corporate ladder, millennials are more inclined to build their own businesses and take greater financial risks. They’re confident that even if they lose some money, they can earn it back — facts firms should consider as they approach this generation and brainstorm investment solutions.

They’re wary of Wall Street. After the Great Recession, many millennials were forced to take on student loans because their parents couldn’t afford college tuitions. So if they’re not entirely warm to the idea of Wall Street, what do millennials trust? Where do they see themselves putting the $30 trillion they’ll one day inherit? This group of investors favors commodities and options and they’re also more likely to put money in exchange-traded funds than their baby boomer parents.

They’re impassioned about helping the world. Millennials want to serve a greater purpose to humanity. This common trait has given rise to the concept of “impact investing” — intentionally putting money in companies or organizations that offer a financial return but also contribute funds toward creating a positive social or environmental impact.

They often don’t trust advisors. According to a study, 57 percent of millennials don’t trust advisors, believing they’re in it more for self-serving purposes than for their clients’ best interests. What they want is someone who wants to build a relationship with them and works toward gaining their trust.

So knowing how millennials and their investment thoughts are unique, how should investment firms navigate this young crowd of investors and best position themselves to reap the business of this generation, both today and in the coming years? 

Create trust and be transparent. Investment firms can build a foundation to better serve the millennial generation by fostering relationships, customizing your advice, and being clear about fees. For example, millennials, unlike baby boomers, prefer flat fees over commission-based pay models; that’s what they’re most familiar with through the advents of Uber and Netflix.

Explore technology. Millennials like technology but they also like simplicity and convenience. Look for ways to leverage technology to make experiences simpler, more self-serving, and more convenient for millennial users. Robo-advisors and digital investment content platforms and tools are just the start of the options available to explore. If they find it inconvenient or complicated to do business with you, they’ll do it with someone else.

Be a great communicator. While technology and self-service drive them, millennials also appreciate a human touch in the investment space, meaning a hybrid of tech and human would be the ideal mix for them. Find out how your millennial client likes to communicate — by text, email, messaging via a digital investment content platform, or on the phone. And when you are communicating, remember to be an advisor, not a dictator. Millennials appreciate insight, but they still like to be the one controlling decisions that impact them.

Use data to customize recommendations. Track clients’ online activity to gather data about them and use this in conjunction with their personal preferences to send them customized investment ideas, alerts, and recommended products.

It comes down to this: Millennials and baby boomers are as different as rotary phones and text messages, and newspapers and podcasts. And they’re just as varied in their viewpoints of success and allocation of material wealth.

Therefore, if advisors truly want to stay relevant in the investment game, they’ll have to work hard to build rapport with this generation and show good will to retain them as clients both currently and into the future.

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Gui Costin (www.guicostin.com), author of the No. 1 Bestseller Millennials Are Not Aliens, is an entrepreneur, and founder of Dakota, a company that sells and markets institutional investment strategies. Dakota is also the creator of two software products: Draft, a database that contains a highly curated group of qualified institutional investors; and Stage, a content platform built for institutional due diligence analysts where they can learn an in-depth amount about a variety of investment strategies without having to initially talk to someone. Dakota’s mission is to level the playing field for boutique investment managers so they can compete with bigger, more well-resourced investment firms.

Why Businesses Must Grasp Millennial Thinking Or Face Economic Calamity

When it comes to shopping and buying, the Millennial generation appears to play by its own rules.

And businesses that fail to understand the Millennial mindset are destined to fall behind their competition – and perhaps plummet into irrelevancy, says Gui Costin (www.guicostin.com), an entrepreneur, consultant and author of Millennials Are Not Aliens.

“Millennials are changing how we buy, how we sell, how we vacation, how we invest, and just about everything else,” Costin says. “If you’re running a business, you have to pay attention to how they think and act.”

Millennials are the generation born roughly from 1981 to 1995, meaning that the older millennials aren’t that far from 40. There are about 80 million Millennials, or nearly one-third of the adult population in the U.S. – and that’s a lot of buying power.

Millennials grew up under very different circumstances than Baby Boomers and Generation X, though, and the way in which they came of age greatly influenced them.

One example is their relationship with technology.

“All of us, regardless of which generation we belong to, have been impacted by technology,” Costin says. “But the generation most affected by the digital, connected world are the Millennials. You could think of it this way: If technology were a geyser, Baby Boomers and Generation Xers have been sprayed by its impact, but Millennials got drenched.”

And their natural use of technology transformed the way they act as consumers, Costin says.

“Bargaining is a part of their process,” he says. “Because they are facile with technology, they rely heavily on their cell phones to price shop and hunt the best deals.”

Costin says there’s plenty that businesses need to understand about Millennials, but here are just a few other facts about their consumer habits worth paying attention to:

They let everyone know about their buying experiences. It is not uncommon for Millennials to candidly share details about their buying experiences, good or bad, on their public social media platforms. “This can translate to bad news for businesses that underperform or, conversely, great news for those that exceed expectations,” Costin says.

Big purchases can happen virtually. For many older people, it’s difficult to even conceive the idea of buying a car, for example, without ever physically seeing or touching it first. “Millennials do it all the time,” Costin says. “In fact, they are the very first of all the generations to make a large purchase without first performing an on-site inspection.”

Brand loyalty means something. No matter how fickle many people believe Millennials to be, they are extremely brand loyal, Costin says. In fact, 60 percent of Millennials say they almost always stick to brands they currently purchase.

Information is essential. Millennials scour the internet to learn about a brand or product before making a purchase. They check websites, blogs, or peer reviews that they trust.

Instant gratification is paramount. Because they have grown up in a digital age, Millennials are used to speed and immediate gratification. “They value prompt feedback and communication and do not like wasting time,” Costin says. “Think emails, text messages, and online messaging.”

“The environment you grow up in determines what you become accustomed to,” Costin says. “Gen Xers and Baby Boomers need to realize that how they grew up is affecting the way they are selling and marketing their organizations. But you cannot sell and market to Millennials the same way you were sold and marketed to.

“The good news is, many companies are listening. They are actively replacing dated, manual processes with more efficient, cutting-edge tools to promote the convenience and speed Millennials crave.”

About Gui Costin

Gui Costin (www.guicostin.com), author of Millennials Are Not Aliens, is an entrepreneur, and founder of Dakota, a company that sells and markets institutional investment strategies. Dakota is also the creator of two software products: Draft, a database that contains a highly curated group of qualified institutional investors; and Stage, a content platform built for institutional due diligence analysts where they can learn an in-depth amount about a variety of investment strategies without having to initially talk to someone. Dakota’s mission is to level the playing field for boutique investment managers so they can compete with bigger, more well-resourced investment firms.