Retailers often assume that meeting the needs of the Millennial generation through technology is a highly specialized endeavor due to the unique experience these “digital natives” have had growing up in an IT-centric world. But before making that assumption, retailers should consider these words author Joyce Maynard, then a Yale freshman, wrote in her 1972 New York Times essay “An 18-Year-Old Looks Back on Life:”
“My generation is special because of what we missed rather than what we got, because in a certain sense we are the first and the last. The first to take technology for granted.”
Maynard was primarily referring to TV when she wrote of “technology,” rather than social media and constant connectivity. However, every generation that has come of age since World War II has grown up taking some form of disruptive consumer technology for granted. And every generation has assumed this made them special. The difference with Millennials is that for the first time, their elders agree with them.
Consumers in their teens and 20s have not changed that much since 1972 (or 1872, for that matter). Technology keeps advancing but the psychology of a person transitioning into adulthood pretty much stays the same. When meeting the needs of Millennial shoppers with technology, retailers should follow a few constant principles that will apply to serving them regardless of the direction IT advancements follow.
Time is of the Essence
Disruptive consumer technologies mostly involve reducing the time and increasing the convenience of delivering information. TV provides immediate, in-home visual content once only available in a movie theater. The Internet offers an instant global library with streamlined search capabilities. Whatever generation coming of age when a disruptive technology is introduced instinctively expects the whole world to operate at that level of speed and efficiency.
When retailing to Millennials,