Grey’s Anatomy premiered on ABC in 2005. For 12 seasons this hospital-based television drama has been popular with audiences and critics alike. It is one of the highest rated TV shows among viewers aged 18-49, a target demographic for advertisers. This demographic includes the millennial generation, a group of young and youngish folks who are thriving in a digital and virtual world. For millennials, if they can’t find you on Google, then you don’t exist.
Definitions vary slightly for the generational span of millennials, but it is convenient to define millennials as those individuals born between 1980 and 2000. Thus, the oldest millennials are turning 37 in 2017, while the youngest are just graduating high school.
Millennials are the most studied generation in history, and they have often been characterized as coddled, impatient and entitled. Such broad generalizations are a bit unfair, and some researchers have pointed out that millennials are also confident, expressive, upbeat and compassionate. Millennials embrace change and innovation. They are nomadic, adventurous and receptive to new ideas.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, millennials are the largest living generation by population size, at over 80 million, and they are about to move into their prime spending years. It follows that self-storage operators will need strategies for attracting and retaining millennial customers.
When developing approaches for reaching millennials you should consider two areas of focus: message and media. In other words, what do you say, and where do you say it? These questions, in turn, are answered by understanding millennials’ preferences for what they value and how they like to receive information. Fortunately, millennials want to be understood, and they like to communicate.
Following are four attributes of millennials that are relevant for self-storage operators, each backed up with suggested actions for developing messages and deploying media that will connect with millennials.
They are socially responsible
Millennials are altruistic and idealistic. They believe in causes, and they are more likely to purchase from a company if the company supports a cause. Thus, they favor brands that stand for more than their bottom line. One study determined that 81% of millennials expect companies to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship (Horizon Media). Another study in 2015 found that 91% of millennials would switch brands to a company associated with a cause. Millennials’ causes are somewhat predictable; they care about recycling, clean energy, sustainability, philanthropy and human rights. Millennials are authentic, and they expect to do business with authentic companies. They are skeptical, however, so they are not moved by flashy ads or manipulation.
Action: Identify your corporate social responsibility (CSR) position, and be prepared to state it publicly in your communications. Demonstrate your commitment with specific actions. For example, you might 1) consider adding recycling as an on-site service for customers in transition, 2) sell only recycled cardboard moving boxes, 3) donate part of every rent payment to a local charity, or 4) add solar panels to the roofs of your storage units and sell the excess electrical capacity to a local utility.
They need the space
According to Pew Research from 2016, more millennials (in this case those 18 to 34) are living with their parents than any other living arrangement. When they move out millennials are more likely to rent than to purchase a home. At least 60% of adults aged 25 to 34 were renting in 2013, up from 52% in 2005. Rental properties may lack attics, garages and basements, and renters generally have less space to store their belongings. The result is that millennials’ living spaces are more cluttered. In a 2016 study by SpareFoot, 59% of millennials reported their current home was somewhat cluttered or very cluttered—a number that outpaced the older generations of Gen X (51%) and baby boomers (48%).
Action: Develop message points that target millennials and that address their specific need for secure self storage. Communicate that you have the extra space they need: Rent a storage unit. Kill the clutter.
They are on the go
Millennials value experiences more than things, so they like to travel, attend concerts and dine out. Millennials are fitness conscious, though their habits don’t always match their values. According to Gallup lifestyle data from 2016, millennials generally have a lower rate of obesity (20%) than Gen Xers (32%) and baby boomers (33%), though they are more likely to skip the fruits and vegetables and order drive-thru burgers and takeout pizza. Millennials spend time outdoors with friends, and they must find space for their outdoor gear—luggage, bicycles, tents, coolers and kayaks.
Action: Link your messages to millennials’ lifestyle preferences. Use your office and available digital media to post photographs showing the items that can be conveniently stored in your units.
They are prolific communicators
Millennials are sometimes called digital natives, because their generation is the first to grow up immersed in digital technology. In fact, they prefer mobile technologies that give them 24-hour access to friends, information, music and entertainment. Over 90% of older millennials own smartphones, and they are users of Google, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Spotify and Uber. They visit their social media pages several times each day. They value the opinions of friends and peers when making decisions about brands, trends, companies and services.
Action: Enable referrals by delivering your messages through the media millennials prefer. Develop a dynamic web presence that communicates your value proposition for millennials. Add additional mobile media that can be easily accessed by millennials, such as Facebook and Twitter. Share insider information about your business. Be authentic. Show what’s happening behind the scenes.
You can’t afford to overlook the millennial opportunity. The current annual spending power of millennials is $600 billion, and this number will accelerate and reach $1.4 trillion by 2020. As you develop your strategies for reaching this important market segment, remember the leading-edge technology offered by PTI Security Systems. EasyCode and StorLogix Mobile will help you automate your facility. EasyCode gives millennials the app-based access they are seeking: mobile gate entry and mobile unit monitoring, plus secure self storage, access histories and notifications when their alarms are triggered.