How to Speak to Millennials

Dealers discuss how to reach and retain the Gen-Y demographic with effective marketing and an open mind (and ears!)

Kids these days. Our priorities, and clothes, differ drastically; and our “responsibilities” fall into varying categories. But there’s one thing people of all ages enjoy: entertainment. It may take a bit of education and diligence, but enticing the 20-something to shop with you for electronics need not be a hair-raising experience.

Where the Young People Are: Online
Consider this: Successful retailers have adjusted to a tremendous amount of flux during their tenure, instituting subtle and/or dramatic changes to adapt to the incoming customer. That includes dealers like Flanner’s Home Entertainment in West Allis, Wisc., a business that has been around for more than 120 years. It started as a sheet music company, and has made quite a number of adjustments over that time.
Today’s “typical” Flanner’s customer is a middle-aged to older male, said Randy Felker, chief operating officer. This customer has a very high household income, he said, adding, “However, as technology and product advancement has occurred, we are able to offer solutions to customers at a value that transcends this demographic.”

In fact, Flanner’s is currently poised to launch “a whole new digital presence and campaign” to reach the younger demographic. This includes a new website, social media platform and a blog.

“All of this will allow us to interact with these customers in a way that they find not only most convenient, but also beneficial,” Felker said. “We have found that it is not about promotion as much as it is about providing a place where these customers can both interact and educate themselves about different products and services.”
The importance of Web presence is not lost on retailers wishing to connect with the younger generation.
Leon Shaw, of Audio Advice in Raleigh, N.C., knows that the first place a young person turns to when looking for product is the Internet. Although not demographic-specific, Google AdWords is a campaign Shaw values. “If you search for turntables or headphones, you will find us,” he said.
In fact, a Google search of “turnables Raleigh, NC” gave Audio Advice as the No. 1 result. And Shaw knows that when a search result brings a customer into the store for one thing, the chances of selling that customer something else of greater value is a good possibility.
“One customer found us through a headphone search, and we ended up selling him a $30,000 two-channel system,” Shaw explained.
Joe Barrett, president of Naperville, Ill.’s Barrett’s Technology Solutions, can relate. Barrett’s has a similar story of change throughout its 30-plus years in business. Also catering to the middle-aged client typically, he is using the Web to garner that younger customer.
“Ninety percent of what we do is digital marketing—social media, SEO, banner ads, blogs and constant Web development to make it easier to find us,” he said. “The younger they are, the more they are on the computer.”
He does admit that his establishment sees more of the 30-something crowd, however.
Matt Hartberger, vice president of 39-year-old Audiotronics in Roanoke, Va., stays in touch with consumers through social media, specifically Facebook. He posts a few times a day, sometimes with an offer like free concert tickets for the first person to arrive at their storefront. He once had a winner in six minutes!
“It’s hard to brand with young people because we are not a Best Buy, where they have things like President’s Day sales. Their call to action is different than mine,” Hartberger noted. “We have to build ourselves as a valuable resource for good product and services. We try to keep our name top-of-mind.”
Hartberger is also receiving high response to Audiotronics’ contact form on its website, where inputting a name and an email address gets the consumer store information and qualifies them for monthly prizes. It’s been so popular—garnering 10 contacts the first day it was posted—that they are revamping the store’s car audio page to include a more extensive form.
As car audio is a hot category for Audiotronics, the form will include sections asking users to input the location that is most convenient for them and specific car questions—such as model, make and year—to engage more closely with the potential client. An Audiotronics employee filters this information and personally responds.

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