Published on: October 30, 2018by Michael Sansolo
Talk about stepping on a third rail. Last week I wrote about and provided a link to a Washington Post article written by a reporter about her extreme dislike of supermarket shopping and stumbled on something much bigger: a lot of people really dislike millennials.
Here’s the thing: the Post article and author were clearly off-putting. The reporter came across as entitled, spoiled and worse. After all, she admitted she would rather steal milk from a coffee shop (oh, the horrors!) than go to a store and walk to the dairy department to buy her own.
I totally understood all the e-mails we got criticizing the writer and her attitude, but things went much further. Many notes I got used the writer’s attitude as an opportunity to criticize her entire generation of millennials and nearly everything about them.
And that’s where I have to say enough is enough. Sure there are entitled millennials, but there are also countless entitled members of every generation. So let’s not use our anger at one person to attack an entire group. Especially when that group is so incredibly important.
A division of Bank of America did an article recently on the generational battle between boomers (my team) and the millennials. The bank talks about the shift of wealth to millennials and what that will mean and the simplest and most important of all facts: millennials now outnumber Boomers, meaning they are that largest generation in the population and will be so for a while to come.
Now, back to the Post article. While the author might be annoying, she made some really big points if they project out to her cohort. She finds supermarket shopping far too difficult, with the stores simply too large and an overload of choices. Those problems plague her even with on-line shopping.
It would seem that shoppers like this would gravitate toward a company offering smaller stores and limited assortment. That might not please Amazon or Walmart, but I have to imagine that single sentence will be very welcome news at, say, Aldi. And that, in a nutshell, is why we can’t let ourselves get distracted.
Millennials, without question, will be the target shopper of the next 20 years and if you’ve been reading my columns over the last month you’ve see some troubling signs for the future. First, they associate on-line shopping with Instacart, not the stores they are actually ordering from, which portends a dangerous erosion of brand equity. And second, they are looking for a simpler and less stressful shopping trip, which plays into the hands of small, limited assortment stores.
Taken together, that means we need to consider how to best position ourselves for tomorrow’s shopper. Sure they might be entitled and addicted to their phones, but isn’t everyone these days. Let’s stop throwing insults and start examining how to win this coming battle.
Otherwise, it’s current businesses that are most in danger of falling into the generation gap. It’s time to start building bridges.
Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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