Millennials, also known as Gen Y, are making a big impact in the property management industry. Defined as consumers between 18 and 36 years old, there are more people in this age group renting than ever before. Recent studies have shown that only 40% of the millennial generation owns a home compared to 66% of all other generations. And of those Millennials who are likely to move within the next five years, 69% expect to rent.
Since Millennials are expected to flood apartment communities over the next couple of years, it’s smart to understand their way of thinking. Staying in tune with them will help you devise leasing strategies to capture their attention and hold their short attention spans. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the biggest misconceptions surrounding this generation and what the realities actually are.
Misconception #1: Millennials are narcissistic, lazy and indecisive. They are both a boomerang generation and a Peter Pan generation because so many of them still live with their parents and don’t want to grow up.
Reality: Millennials have a different value system and a new set of expectations for just about everything. They are tricky to sell to, and must be approached on their own terms. They are annoyed by people who do not accept change or explore different or better ways to appeal to them.
So what appeals to them in terms of an apartment? At the National Apartment Association’s Student Housing Conference in Las Vegas, some ideas on how to entice this “choice generation” ranged from newly designed floor plans with larger kitchen areas for cooking and entertaining, to amenity preferences such as stronger WiFi connections or receiving a text message when the washers and dryers are available. Don’t forget to promote any alternative transportation services nearby your community. Nearly a third of Millennials say they do not plan to buy a car and are gravitating toward using public transit, car-sharing services, Uber, taxis, or bicycles.
Misconception #2: Traditional marketing plans are still effective with Gen Y because they basically like the same things in an apartment home as everyone else does. “Now Leasing” banners and signs will still capture their attention.
Reality: Millennials are not easily impressed with cheesy marketing ideas and lose interest in less than 10 seconds. Millennials do love to laugh and appreciate tongue in cheek, or edgy humor. Always connected, they expect content to be delivered across devices, channels and in the language they prefer. Because their attention spans are short and demands for personalization are high, connecting with Millennials requires an integrated and well thought-out customer experience strategy. Looking at non-traditional ways to engage them is the key.
This generation is much more likely to respond to marketing through social networks rather than on email or using a traditional search engine, making push marketing tactics much less effective. This means that while these consumers move effortlessly between “on and offline” touch points, they expect a consistent experience from your brand. So it’s not only what you say but how you say it and make the content relevant to that individual customer.
Misconception #3: Millennials are hard to relate to, especially when communicating about customer service and problem solving. They are never satisfied.
Reality: Millennials are the most educated generation in American history. Far more are going to college than any of the past generations. That being said, when we have non-technical employees trying to relate, understand, and identify with highly technically savvy customers, the outcome is frustration and strain on both sides. Satisfaction matters more to the Millennial and they are less likely to put up with an unpleasant situation and much more likely to use social networking to broadcast their concerns.
An article in the Atlantic Web Works sums up a few characteristics that can help when dealing with a Millennial. By understanding the importance of these “hot buttons”, relationships with them can be more easily corrected. Author Kristen Daukas states …
- “Slight impatience. They get mad if a webpage doesn’t load in 5 seconds. Seriously.
- Important updates via internet. Oh, did you not know your daughter or son was in a relationship? Well, now you do, because it’s on Facebook!
- Instant gratification. Why can’t the new Arrested Development season on Netflix air sooner? What are they waiting for? Are they trying to torture me?
- Video crazy. They LOVE YouTube videos for every occasion. If you get a YouTube video on your wall for your birthday, that Millennial sure does love you.
- Quick response time. They get irritated if you don’t respond to a text quickly. My mom may not understand how she’s making me angry, but my friends’ sure do!”
Now is the time for the property management industry to start understanding Millennials. Attracting this “generation of choice” requires a shift in marketing plans, communication, and relationship building.