Canadian Pizza Magazine

From the Editor’s desk: January-February 2015

Colleen Cross   

Features Business and Operations Marketing

Know your millennials

Millennial customers matter, we are told by those who study consumer
behaviour, and to serve them effectively, businesses need to understand
what makes them tick.

Millennial customers matter, we are told by those who study consumer behaviour, and to serve them effectively, businesses need to understand what makes them tick.

To do this, we need to stop thinking of them as a single group. Despite having their uses, labels like “millennials” or “generation Y” may be getting in the way of getting inside the heads of this increasingly influential bunch.

It may surprise you to know that by 2020, there will be more millennials than baby boomers in Canada. Millennials will represent 28 per cent of the population as compared to boomers’ 26 per cent, according to a recent Nielsen study.


Right now, only 14 per cent of millennials are the head of their household, but that number will soon grow. By 2020, millennials will have $12.6 billion more to spend than they did in 2010; baby boomers will have $4.3 billion less. Money talks and it’s in your best interests as a pizzeria operator to listen, build your menu, adjust your marketing approach and change the way you interact with this portion of your customer base.

But don’t lump these folks together. As customer retention expert Noah Fleming says in “Marketing to millennials,” page 16, “Even though this group generally values community, convenience, technology and a higher-end product, there is no one catch-all way to connect with them all.”

Millennials are more diverse than baby boomers or gen X-ers (like me) may have thought. Abacus, a Canadian research firm run by 20- and 30-somethings, breaks this demographic down into six subgroups based on personality traits on its Canadian Millennials website.

The descriptions are revealing and may even help millennial operators understand their peers. Achievers, who tend to be women, will update others on what is important to them by posting about their activities and sharing information about topics of interest, say the researchers. If many of your customers fit this bill, it would be well worth your while to target them with samples, nudge them to connect with you on Facebook or ask if they’d like to receive special offers and information via their smartphones. A little effort could go a long way toward making them unofficial ambassadors of your business.

Pacers are connected, independent and confident. Abacus researchers offer these revelations about the group, which consists mostly of men: “They could be in their parents’ basement or in a cave in the desert as long as they have access to connection. And if they are going to go out, they would like it to be somewhere that feels classy.” Maybe there is an untapped delivery angle here? “No need to go offline – we’ll bring the pizza to you.” To take the broader view, maybe it’s time to bring in free Wi-Fi and show these connected customers you’re a hot spot in every sense of the word.

I can’t resist highlighting a third group, Simple Lifers, who sound surprisingly like baby boomers. “This group knows quality when they see it and they will consider any available information from their friends and the public when making decisions,” says Abacus. They make purchasing decisions based on price and functionality. Appealing to these folks may be a simple matter of continuing to offer good value at a fair price.

So you see, it’s not about having to change for the sake of change. It’s about doing what makes sense for your business. If you get to know your customers and what motivates them, you’re bound to find your own unique way to keep them coming back for more.

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