Millennial Mashup

Millennials to the left of me, marketers to my right — here I am. You’re stuck in the middle with me, discussing the posts of mine that made the biggest impression on you. Not surprisingly, the posts are about Millennials.

MillennialsMillennials to the left of me, marketers to my right — here I am. You’re stuck in the middle with me, discussing the posts of mine that made the biggest impression on you. Not surprisingly, the posts are about Millennials.

Marketers want and need to know about this influential group because, for one, Millennials are marketers now and are already making their marks on the profession. They’re an influential customer group, too, able to spend $1.4 trillion in a few years, according to Accenture.

Marketers who are trying to figure out if Millennials will spend the money with them read and reacted to these posts the most:

  • Why Don’t Millennials Use Cash? How to get that ROI: “As I paid a dinner check, my Millennial daughter affectionately quipped, ‘You old people and your cash!’ ”
  • Why Won’t Millennials Call Me? How marketers can convert Millennial consumers: “Maybe it all started with AOL Instant Messenger when they were teens. They created acronyms like PIR (parent in room), 9 or PAW (for parents are watching), and other secret shortcuts to secure their privacy.”
  • Why Millennials Don’t Consume Mass Media … And Why That’s OK. So where is the top of the funnel? “Every semester, I ask the students in my undergraduate classes: ‘Does anyone read the newspaper?’ No hands raised. ‘Does anyone watch the network news on TV?’ No hands raised. ‘Does anyone listen to the radio?’ Some who commute by car raised their hands.”
  • Your Best Marketing Investment: Recent Grads. Business strategy should involve Millennials, because: “Throughout my career as a marketer, mentor and teacher, I have learned that recent college grads are capable of creating remarkable work, if given the chance.”

Why Don’t Millennials Use Cash?

When’s the last time you saw a Millennial pay with cash? Even convenience store purchases of less than $5 are paid with a debit card. Coffee in Starbucks is paid via cell phone. Money is exchanged between friends using PayPal and Venmo.

As I paid a dinner check, my Millennial daughter affectionately quipped, “You old people and your cash!”

My response was, “Everybody likes cash!” I was wrong of course, (and perhaps prejudiced by my South Philly roots, where some businesses are still “cash only” for one reason or another).

When’s the last time you saw a Millennial pay with cash? Even convenience store purchases of less than $5 are paid with a debit card. Coffee in Starbucks is paid via cell phone. Money is exchanged between friends using PayPal and Venmo.

Many of the Millennials I give birthday gifts to prefer gift cards to specific retailers, like Home Depot or Banana Republic, rather than cash that they can spend anywhere.

A survey by TD Bank of 1,300 Americans, reported in ABA Bank Marketing last month, found that 25 percent of Americans either currently use or have used a reloadable prepaid card in the past two to three years. But among Millennials (ages 18 to 34), this proportion jumps to 33 percent. According to FICO, more than one-third of Millennials are expected to use a mobile wallet in 2015. (Opens as a PDF)

Professor Bernardo Batiz-Lazo of Bangor University, Wales, speculates that Millennials’ predisposition for non-cash transactions could eventually result in the demise of ATMs. His blog post reprinted by Newstex last month states:

“Perhaps the biggest issue shaping ATMs in the near future will concern the choices of Millennials, those for whom the Internet, mobile phones and plastic cards are a fact of life, checks are unknown and cash is quaint. They challenge financial institutions and their business models to do more, faster because they have easier and faster access to better technology than offered by the banks’ legacy systems through the multitude of apps on their smartphones, wearables, tablets and elsewhere. Left to their own devices, Millennials could spell the end of the ATM by 2035 or thereafter.”

Now of course the use of electronic payment methods is not limited to just Millennials. Boomers and Silents are also moving away from cash transactions, but Millennials are certainly leading the charge. If your business requires a minimum purchase to use a card, you’re probably losing customers among the largest demographic group. Millennials represent 24.6 percent of the population vs. 23.3 percent for the Baby Boomers.

I’m waiting to see the first panhandler with a card reader. Let me know if you spot one.