Supply Chain: Get to Know Millennials


Image source: tomicpasko | Flickr

They are your employees. They are your customers. Pretty soon, Millennials will be the supply chain.

As Millennials now outnumber Generation X and Baby Boomers in the workforce, shifts in ideas and processes were inevitable. But this generation is having an even more palpable impact: They are reshaping the economy as we know it, forcing businesses to reexamine traditional methods of buying and selling to accommodate their unique preferences and experiences.

A 2014 survey found that 46% of B2B buyers were Millennials, and that number is on the rise. Their preferences and behaviors are having a noticeable impact on B2B buyer behavior as a whole. In short, the supply chain should be prepared to change the way business is conducted to account for this generation’s impact.

Who are Millennials?

The term “Millennials” describes the generation of Americans born between 1982 and 2000. The more than 83 million Millennials represent a quarter of the US population, and are more diverse than any previous generation, with 44.2% being a part of a minority race or ethnic group.

Millennials are generally highly educated, though often underemployed and saddled with debt. They are digital natives who are decidedly collaborative by nature. Having grown up in a time of rapid technological advancement, their expectations and priorities are much different than previous generations. They’re delaying marriage and parenthood in favor of higher education and travel, fueling their strong sense of optimism. And they generally are reluctant to make major purchases — like homes, cars, and even music — instead favoring services that provide access to products without ownership, fueling the growth of the collaborative economy.

Ads be gone

Bombarded with over 5,000 marketing messages a day, every day for their entire lives, Millennials are able tune out traditional advertisements. They are turned off by direct sales pitches and much prefer word-of-mouth recommendations or joining communities around brands they like to learn about products and services. They are easily incentivized and want to be rewarded for their brand loyalty with things like discounts, access to information, and personalized communications.

Reshaping retail

Millennials are highly attached to technology. More than half go online multiple times per day, while more than a third (36%) report going online “almost constantly.” Approximately 90% are active on at least one social media network. They expect brands and businesses to have a digital presence and engage with them online — especially if they have a complaint or problem.

Having the internet at their fingertips shapes how Millennials shop. Their constant access to product information, user reviews, and price comparisons allows them to favor brands and products that offer maximum convenience at the lowest cost. Catering to their proclivity for the best for the least, giant retailers like Amazon have reset expectations for shipping times, availability, and price. 

Millennials have taken shopping mobile. Around 92% will use a mobile device while they shop, and 78% will use an app to shop. And the revolution is far from over : Artificial intelligence, robots, and drones represent a new wave of technology that many tech companies, driven by Millennial innovators, are just a short step from achieving.

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