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Millennials: Drivers of a new consumer era

3-minute read

Members of the millennial generation are now between 16 and 36 years old and have reached their prime consumption years. Born between 1980 and 2000, Canada’s millennials number about 10 million and are profoundly changing the consumer landscape.

If you’re in the business of selling to consumers, or supplying businesses that do, you need to understand what makes millennials tick. They’re all the more important because of their role as trendsetters, influencing the buying habits of other generations.

Our research indicates that a critical factor in understanding millennials is comprehending their enthusiasm for the Internet. In a country that’s among the most connected in the world, Canadian millennials are especially active online. It’s no wonder they’ve been dubbed “the connected generation.”

They’ve embraced online shopping and social media—hence, their power to influence younger and older generations.

Devoted to smartphones

One striking feature of millennials’ online behaviour is their devotion to their smartphones. Millennials spend half of their online time on one. They’re using their smartphones to shop, review companies and pay for purchases. The lesson is clear. It’s no longer enough to just have a website. Your company needs to have a mobile-responsive site to be part of this consumer revolution.

At the same time, millennials are all about experiences and less about owning brands. In fact, they prefer sharing products and services to owning them.

Uber and Airbnb are only the most visible examples of this phenomenon. Our research indicates that 45% of Canadians are willing to rent their belongings to others and 42% are open to renting from others.

Attracted to sharing

Because sharing is becoming mainstream, businesses would do well to join the trend, rather than ignoring it or fighting it.

You can evaluate opportunities to work with other businesses to reduce costs for consumers or offer additional value. You can also assess the possibility of sharing your resources with other companies, including such things as space, skills and digital assets. For example, a retailer might consider lending space to another vendor in return for the use of space in their location.

Consumer values and trends evolve constantly. The most successful entrepreneurs understand these trends and adapt their products, services and client experience in response to the opportunities they present.

The millennials are shaping a new consumer economy in Canada. What steps can your company take to make sure you’re riding the wave rather than being crushed by it?

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