Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, make up one-fourth of the planet’s population—1.7 billion people— according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As a consumer group, they’re just starting to flex their spending power, which will grow significantly in the coming years. While they’re years from fully establishing themselves, they’re already having a marked impact on the consumer landscape, and retailers and designers are learning how to align themselves to best market to this important consumer group.
Mintel Global Research found millennials are the most active purchasers of flooring, and millennials represented the highest percentage of carpet purchases of any group. In 2015, 65% of millennials who were in the market for flooring bought a hard surface product and 51% bought carpet. So how do retailers and designers get into the considerations set for purchases?
It’s no secret that millennials are active technology users. About 92% of millennials own smartphones and roughly 61% own tablets, according Nielsen, a global information and measurement company. And because of their connection with technology, this generation’s communication preferences lean toward digital communications.
“Millennials combined with Gen X make up over 59% of all home buyers in today’s market.”
Most independent retailers get overwhelmed when it comes to developing and executing a digital marketing strategy, but there are simple strategies flooring professionals can employ to maximize reach, according to Andrew Valeriani, vice president of digital marketing for Flooring America/Flooring Canada.
Start with a cleanly styled, mobile-friendly website. Then, set up a search presence online so that consumers can find you when they search for a product or service that you offer. The best ways to ensure you are prominently appearing on the first page in an online search, business owners should consider paid advertisements (Google, Bing, Yahoo) and organic search listings, Valeriani said.
Having grown up amid growing media fragmentation, millennials are hyper adept at multitasking and are fully immersed in both their digital and physical lives. Notably, findings from more than a dozen Nielsen Global Survey reports from 2013-2016, which polled the attitudes of more than 30,000 online consumers in more than 60 countries, revealed that millennials are a social, community-driven generation that values the voice of the individual.
Social media is a key platform to promote the voice of the individual. Having a presence on high-traffic social media properties such as Facebook, Twitter, Houzz, Instagram and Pinterest will help to build brand awareness for your business. Creating content for these social media channels that is engaging and relevant to your customer will help them become interested in your business and hopefully influence them to inquire about the products and services you offer. To be effective, businesses should apportion their efforts to focus on the channels where their customers spend the most time, Valeriani said.
Pergo recently kicked off a new brand campaign, “Master the Art of Staying In,” which aims to elevate Pergo’s brand awareness, especially among millennial consumers. The campaign includes an eight-episode, Pergo-branded reality series called the “Ultimate Staycation,” which encourages millennials to envision themselves living on Pergo floors in an engaging way. The series will be shared on YouTube and Facebook with coordinating campaign elements being shared on Instagram and Pinterest.
“Millennials are a coveted consumer group for home and shelter products because millennials combined with Gen X make up over 59% of all home buyers in today’s market,” said Paij Thorn-Brooks, vice president of marketing for Pergo, a division of Mohawk laminate and hardwood, North America.
According to Thorn-Brooks, research shows that staying in is the new going out among these young homeowners. “This branded digital content series is new and ground-breaking for the flooring category,” Thorn-Brooks said. “Capturing organic content directly related to the performance of our products is extremely valuable for resonating with the end consumer.”
This past summer, Metroflor ramped up its social media presence with the Konecto Pin To Win Sweepstakes. Pinterest was the lead platform for this promotion, which rewarded the winner with a $100 Visa gift card through a drawing. Metroflor encouraged its distributors and aligned dealers to participate with tools that will help them to promote the sweepstakes via their own websites, social media and email campaigns.
“The Pin To Win Sweepstakes is the culmination of our first redesign initiative for the Konecto brand in five years,” said Gary Keeble, Metroflor’s director of marketing. “The goal is to drive traffic to our social media sites and ultimately to retailers via the dealer locater function on metroflorusa.com.”
The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) also launched a social media campaign in September to generate digital conversations about the attributes of carpet. Five influential bloggers who focus on design and family living will develop posts that highlight the benefits of carpet and use the hashtag #beautyofcarpet. CRI invited blog readers and the general public to share posts on the beauty of carpet and enter to win a $500 Visa gift card at www.beautyofcarpet.com. These posts were amplified by the bloggers and member CRI companies across social media channels such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Millennials are the most non-traditional generation so far, and they don’t value traditional life-stage advertising the way previous generations did. Despite falling into one generation, millennials are not a uniform, homogeneous group with a common set of beliefs, interests and behaviors, according to Nielsen.
Instead of focusing on life stages, target millennials based on social groups. For example, flooring marketers can focus attention on population segments that are drawn to social causes, those who are in alternative lifestyles or those who avidly follow specific social media personalities. Millennials are much more likely to have a strong attachment to these social identities than they identify with a specific stage of life.
“When it comes to millennials, they want to be more involved with how products get created.”
Collaboration and self-expression are key for millennials, according to Darryl Locke, director of national accounts and distribution for Lexmark Carpet. He says millennials are interested in having a say in the design of the products they purchase, and they enjoy becoming product co-creators. Locke said his research shows that 40% of millennials say they are interested in assisting companies develop new products and services.
“What usually happens in the flooring industry is companies design and create products and hope that their target market will consume them,” Locke said. “When it comes to millennials, they want to be more involved with how products get created.”
In response, Lexmark created a custom rug program that allows customers to design a unique rug from a large assortment of products and colors. Locke said Lexmark’s marketing team works closely with the design team to ensure they are offering designs and colors that are on trend for the marketplace.
Shaw’s Cut-A-Rug program is another tool that makes it easy for millennial consumers to order custom rugs cut and bound from a variety of collections. Originally launched by Shaw several years ago, the Cut-A-Rug program can make from a variety of collections. Customer provide their dimensions in inches for a rug, choose a shape, style, color and binding options.
Recommendations play a large role in how millennials select retailers to buy from and product to purchase. Online software company Kissmetrics reported that 89% of millennials trust recommendations from friends and family more than claims by the brand. Compare this to 34% of baby boomers who are willing to turn to online feedback recommendations and are usually brand loyal.
Ask customers to rate their experience with your business on review sites likes Yelp, Google and Angie’s List. It’s not only important to ask for the review, but also to be sure you are responding to the positive and negative reviews that you receive. For example, have your sales staff include the links to review sites in their email signatures or include a card to the review sites with your invoicing, Valeriani said.
Sidebar: Millennial Insights for Retailers
There are several moves flooring retailers can make to strategically align themselves for the millennial marketplace to make more sales. Here are a few tips to get started.
1. A great website
- Look at the website as an extension of your showroom. This is often where your millennial consumers will go first.
- It should include your company history, employee biographies, and your mission statement.
- Get personal – allow clients to get to know you and your staff before entering your retail showroom.
- Post testimonials and before & after photos of past projects.
- Don’t forget the basics like your showroom address, hours, services you provide and brands you carry with links to the manufacturers websites.
2. Be solutions based
- Flexibility is key. Millennials blend work and home life seamlessly. Where and when they want to meet may not fit within your core business model. Be open to off hour meetings in your showroom, at their home, or an off-site location.
3. Dynamic retail space
- Millennials expect brick and motor to be a “retail experience.”
- Evoke all five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.
- Use your showroom space during off business hours. Offer the space to the local clubs to hold monthly meetings. Millennials in the community will remember your generosity.
- Bring in guest speakers and hold special events in the showroom. Give millennials reasons to keep your business top of mind.
4. Be positive
- Don’t use the word “no.” This one word can close a lot of doors quickly.
- Compromise. Even if you need time to research an answer, give the client reassurance you will be able to work through a solution together.
5. Create your own product referral network
- If you don’t carry all the products your millennial clients need for their project, find businesses that can partner with you to get the job done.
- Position yourself as a key resource for any project. This could lead to additional revue and project work for your business.
Source: Traci Kloos, senior design manager-marketing, Tarkett.
Sidebar: Millennial Insights for Designers
Designers have a unique opportunity to connect with millennials throughout the design process of their flooring projects. Here are some suggestions on how to put your best foot forward with this important demographic.
1. Listening to clients’ needs.
- Give equal focus to form and function.
- Try spending some time with your clients in the spaces they are looking to change. Analyze what works well for them and what needs to change. There are often details millennial clients may overlook.
2. Defining the roles of each space you are designing.
- Who, what, where, when and why?
- Even though we love to focus on aesthetics, the key to long-term project success is how the space performs for your customer.
- Observe your clients in the space and understand their current likes and dislikes.
3. Communication Preference
- Find out how and when your millennial customer likes to communicate.
- Set the expectation of your communication style. Millennials have a 24/7 mind set, so make sure you agree on how quickly messages will be returned and by what method.
- Approach your millennial clients as co-creators in the design process.
- Speak to them as peers. You both want the same end goal: a beautiful, completed project.
- Give your millennial clients opportunity to provide input in making their designs unique to them. Making them part of the process makes them feel vested in the project.
5. Follow up
- After you have formed a relationship with your millennial client, don’t leave them hanging. Follow up a few weeks after the completion of the project and again a few months later. This is a great time to suggest a few additional accessory items your clients may have overlooked.
- Take photos of completed projects for your portfolio, and ask for a testimonial. Millennials love to share their experiences.
- Ask if you can use them as a reference for new clients.
Source: Traci Kloos, senior design manager-marketing, Tarkett.