The Millennial consumer has been described as an individual born during the last two decades before the turn of the Millennium, who approach shopping, information gathering and consumptions in a way that is markedly different from preceding consumer cohorts such as Baby Boomers and GenX’ers. As a consumer culture, the Millennial has challenged marketers and manufacturers in fundamental ways that are now driving massive changes across markets—including in the insurance and benefits market.
Millennials use technology in a much more involved and complex manner than the “older” consumer. Not only do they shop on their smartphones, they use a variety of technologies to educate themselves and take charge of the information exchange that leads to a market transaction. They expect companies to communicate with them utilizing more than one communication vehicle—indeed, any information vehicle that the consumer prefers at any time in the buying process. They form their opinion about companies and service providers not based on whether the product they received “did the job”, but based on whether the shopping, buying and consumption experience accommodated their preferences—and whether the product/service relates to them in a manner much more profound and selective than was known in the days of the canned benefits offering. The buying experience and the product or service must be personalized, or at least perceived to be. The fundamental change is not the use of technology, nor is it demand for better quality.
The fundamental change lies in the adoption of a more empowered role by the Millennial consumer. They demand the opportunity to take charge of the market exchange in a way they are familiar with in more mature markets, like the retail experience they have on Amazon. They are claiming their “right” to not just be service recipients, but owners of their own consumption experience.