Millennials are not to be ignored. 15-35 year olds are the largest generation and in two years will outspend baby boomers1. Business looks bright for those embracing millennial culture.
Guitar gods vanished because glitz and glamour gave way to authenticity and relatability. Taylor Swift is the savvy girl next door, and the response to Bieber’s innocent rise, arrogant fall, and introspective resurgence reflects millennial values.
Drawing comparisons to boomers often evokes negativity and condescension toward youth—a tendency that repeats itself with every generation. One must develop empathy for the customer and that begins by recognizing the events that shaped their values.
9/11, collapse of Wall Street, rising cost of education, and high unemployment is largely the palette from which millennials paint. Consequently, they are truth seekers valuing people and purpose over products and profits.
They are not technologically savvy, but rather, technologically transparent—mobile devices are a seamless means for self-expression to cultivate social circles. Previous generations made friends locally by wearing sports team jerseys or rock band t-shirts. Today, we broadcast “likes” globally on social media and instantly engage with respondents. Millennials are the most socially connected and diverse generation.
To reach them, advertising must be mobile friendly and channeled through social media, conveying socially responsible brand messages over capitalistic promotional jargon. “Personal development” and “global impact” trumps “lifestyle.” Millennials ultimately want to know how playing music empowers them to influence the world.
Millennials opt to self-navigate to their chosen destination, making playlists at least as relevant as playing instruments. Video games have eclipsed cinema and streaming singles overshadows purchasing full-length albums. DJ gear is the industry’s fastest growing sector, and stocking it will attract young blood—one can create, share, and influence others “on the fly” without the traditional learning curve.
Nevertheless, playing instruments and writing music remain essential to personal and cultural development. In-store lessons now compete with a navigable online video lesson smorgasbord which local teachers must recognize as a resource. Posting their own store branded videos doubles as essential marketing, and they can also create lesson plans using available clips from highly regarded players. Yesterday’s page numbers are today’s clickable links.
In-person weekly lessons can become monthly, adding skype sessions in between. Baby boomer parents working long hours will also appreciate the flexibility and time saved. The alternative is probably losing them altogether. This way, one can follow customers into their living rooms and increase overall engagement.
The most effective way to attract millennial customers may be to hire millennial employees. The silent generation worked hard to support their families. Baby boomers work long hours to advance their careers. Millennials work comfortably and view going to work as a results-oriented endeavor rather than a location-based or punch clock activity. They work 24/7 when motivated by a larger vision, and will constantly promote their activities on behalf of your brand to peers around the corner and across the globe. While consumers often use stores to browse and then close deals with competitors online, that is less likely if their “friend” is on the other end of the transaction.
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