What Millennial Consumers Really Want

Since the baby boom generation debuted following the return of tens of thousands of Americans from military service in World War II, each succeeding generation has eventually been tagged with its own catchy nickname: Gen X was the group that followed the boomers, with its members now ranging from their mid-30s to early 50s. The newest demographic group is Gen Z, whose members are college age—from 18 to 21.

But there is one group—which falls in between Gens X and Z—that’s drawing a lot of attention: millennials. Although as a group, all millennials were born in the late 20th century, they are fast becoming the power players of 21st century consumers. And that’s why companies that sell virtually any product and service are frantically trying to win their business.

It’s not easy to categorize millennials as being “mostly this” or “primarily that,” because their habits are eclectic, which is why retailers, banks and many other businesses are investing a lot of time and effort to attract them.



According to consulting firm Deloitte, by 2020 millennials will make up an estimated 50% of the global workforce and are expected to control between $19 trillion and $24 trillion on a global scale. That buying power explains why millennials are the top target of the world’s economy.

While millennials embrace the latest online business models, such as Airbnb and Uber, research shows they still place great value on having in-person conversations with well-informed experts before making major buying decisions.

TimeTrade regularly surveys consumers to identify their preferences and frustrations when it comes to the service they receive. Responses from millennials show that this demographic expects superior customer service and in-person attention.

For example, 86% of millennials report that when making a major jewelry purchase, such as an engagement ring, they prefer to schedule an appointment so the jeweler is expecting them and already knows their preferences (such as budget, gem shape, etc.).

Other interesting retail customer experience findings include:

  • 73% of millennials are willing to provide personal details (such as style preferences and their size) before an appointment at a clothing store.
  • 59% say they would spend more money if a personal shopper recommended additional items or accessories.
  • 71% of millennials like the option of shopping at physical stores operated by e-commerce retailers such as Amazon, Warby Parker or Bonobo.
  • 87% said they would abandon a dressing room—and the store—if an associate is not nearby to help them with a potential clothing purchase.

We also asked millennials about their preferences in other consumer areas. Key findings include:

  • When having work done on their car, 82% of millennials would like to receive status updates by text.
  • 64% say they’ve become frustrated when waiting for help at a wireless service store.
  • 90% are willing to conduct business at their bank or credit union during off-peak times—if they receive some type of incentive (earning higher interest rates or paying lower fees) to do so.
  • 75% of millennials are open to scheduling a video meeting with their financial advisor to avoid having to travel to an in-person meeting during business hours.

Not surprisingly, there is no single trait or tendency that applies to all members of any given demographic group. But when it comes to millennials, TimeTrade’s research surveys show they highly value personalized service when making almost every type of purchase.

Businesses that will enjoy the greatest success serving millennials will be those willing to go the extra mile and provide “We’ve been expecting you” service to every customer, every time.

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