As the millennials are graduating, centennials are moving in, bringing a new set of values with them. They have high expectations, a focus on quality, a strong sense of thrift and the shortest attention span to date. Having never experienced life without technology, this resourceful generation is about to change the rules and it is up to the rest of us to keep up.
Centennials are 18-years-old and younger, and their experiences are different than the rest of us. From birth, their lives have been lived on devices, they have always known a world of heightened security and they grew up during a major recession. This has led to a mature outlook on life and it reflects in their decision-making. For businesses or colleges to reach them, the way the message is delivered will have to change because centennials will find a way to work around the systems that don’t speak to them.
This new generation is careful with their money. They research decisions and rely heavily on reviews — in fact, 95% read reviews before making a purchase (clothing, books, electronics, etc.). For nearly a third of this generation reviews are more important than the brand name, savings or perks. Two-thirds prefer to save their money for the future than to buy something less expensive that doesn’t fully meet their expectations. On top of this, centennials are looking for engagement when making purchases. They want to be able to get their questions answered and they aren’t known for being patient. Companies will have to earn their business with more than brand recognition. Quality and value will need to be demonstrated early in the relationship with this consumer. (66 Interesting Facts About Generation Z)
Online research is extremely important to centennials. Used to having the world at their fingertips, they expect to find answers to their questions without ever making contact with your business. If they can’t find what they are looking for on your website, they will look elsewhere. Providing information online early in the shopping experience, as well as reviews, is essential for gaining their trust, but even that will not be enough to capture their attention. They expect easy-to-navigate, mobile-friendly, innovative websites that work in tandem with their store because, while 95% of centennials do their research online, they prefer the instant gratification of buying in-store. However, instead of shortening the message, it’s actually best to tell a story and provide more information.
When trying to reach the centennial generation, focus on providing a great experience, engaging one-on-one with them and transparency. Having price comparisons is a great start, but consider going beyond even that. Supply them with as much information as you can and offer recommendations. More importantly, start real conversations and be available to answers questions. This is a generation that watches more YouTube™ than television. Video testimonials would be a great way to offer a review and engage them in a medium that is a part of their everyday life.
While they may prove to be one of the most difficult generations to market to, they are willing to pay more for a product that has value to them. Emphasize the quality of education and how your school is different from others. Demonstrate the value you are offering them. The sooner you can start reaching out to this generation, the better.