With a population of more than 75 million, the millennial generation (those currently aged 18 - 34) represents the largest single segment of the population ever seen, and are having significant impact on apartments, from how they’re developed, to how they’re sold and managed. With an annual buying power of $200 billion, they are also the most lucrative market.
While we’re certain that you’re already paying significant attention to how your marketing and leasing processes need to evolve to better attract and serve this market, finding the right balance between traditional tactics and new ones is important to success.
While a tremendous amount of research has been conducted into millennials and how to market successfully to them (trust us, we’ve spent A LOT of time looking at it), the keys to success aren’t all that complicated. Here are the seven we feel are most important.
Millennials are probably the wisest market segment at their age in history. They’ve grown up on the Internet where information flows freely. They’ve spent most (if not all) of their adult life with smart phones in their hands where they can check or access anything. While the jokes around “if it’s on the Internet it must be true” flow freely, millennials can quickly separate the BS from the legitimate.
The key to connecting with this important group of people is simply to be open and authentic. Drop the traditional marketing speak and flowery language, and just be real.
43% of millennials rank authenticity over content when consuming news. They must trust a site before they even bother reading the content. This is a reason that blogs can be so effective as they are meant to be authentic and to share stories. Millennials connect best with people over logos.
Oh yea, be sure you drop the hard sell, and processed guest cards. Millennials sense that manipulative stuff a mile away. Instead focus on engaging and helping them.
According to AdAge, millennials spend an average of 25 hours per week online. They live on content-driven media. They scour blogs, websites and social media because they feel in control and empowered. Simply put, if it’s not online it might as well not exist.
This means that you must replicate much of your lead management process to work online, outside of the presence of an actual leasing associate (see more in next point).
Let Them Be in Control
Millennials want to control their experience...and their buying journey. That means you must give them choices to engage. Text, email and sometimes even phone are their preferred modes of communication - be prepared to support all three.
What’s more, they often prefer to bypass all of that and control the journey themselves. Millennial buying patterns are one of the driving factors to the growing number of instant chat and other widgets popular on websites. Self-booking widgets are something you should consider if you haven’t already.
Make it Fun
Millennials like to search. They often view researching and browsing as more compelling than the purchase itself. In many ways the online shopping experience is becoming more than a means to an end. Millennials thirst content. So you must be sure you’re giving it to them in a fun, entertaining way.
Which brings us to...photos, videos, Pinterest, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram and more. Millennials don’t use a single channel when they shop, learn, engage or buy. If you want your apartments and communities to resonate, you must provide the media they want, where they want it and how they want it.
Here are a couple of suggestions:
- Create an Instagram channel for each of your communities, and allow your residents to post to it.
- Build a library of videos and virtual tours that prospects can view when they want to. Make it even more powerful by using tracking software to know who’s watching what.
- Share videos of your residents enjoying amenities and sharing their stories.
- Blog about the happenings at each community.
We could go on, but we think you get the picture (get it?).
85% of millennials own smartphones and use them regularly. While the desktop/laptop still matters, be sure your website is built for both.
Remember...Millennials are People First
Okay, we admit it. This post is an example of violating a very important rule. While there is a lot written about millennials and how they are different, remember that in reality, they are more like other prospects than they are different.
Why? Because before they’re millennials, they’re people. They have the same hierarchy of needs, they follow the same laws of gravity and they “put their pants on one leg at a time.” The truth is that if you follow the tips we list here, you’ll not only experience greater success with marketing to millennials, you’ll also see better results when marketing to everybody else.