While the Baby Boomers have long held the title of “largest generation ever,” the Millennials — born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s — are poised to overtake them in the very near future. But not only do Millennials represent sheer and unprecedented numbers, they also represent something else: massive buying power. By the year 2017, their collective spending power will reach $200 billion annually, and skyrocket to $10 trillion over the course of their lifetimes, according to Advertising Age. They’ll all need to live somewhere — so why not at your community? Let’s take a closer look at what you need to know in order to appeal to this next generation of residents.
Introducing….the First Digital Natives
One of the defining characteristics of Millennials is that they are the first generation of digital natives. What does this mean? Having grown up surrounded by all things digital, Millennials are not only comfortable with technology, they demand it.
Whereas a Baby Boomer’s first impression of your apartment community was likely made while driving around looking for “For Sale signs,” Millennials are far more likely to initially interact with your business and brand online. Lack of an internet presence — both via website and social media — constitutes a major missed opportunity for property managers looking to connect with the Millennial generation.
It’s not simply a matter of having a website or Facebook page, though. To qualify as Millennial-pleasing, these must be accessible, transparent, and offer valuable information to visitors. And keep in mind that while prior generations might have tolerated an online process while still requiring the exchange of paper documents for a sense of finalization, Millennials prefer to bypass paperwork — which they view both as time-consuming and wasteful — and instead complete transactions via the internet.
In fact, the more you can automate the process, the better. Resident portals, for example, allow residents to do everything from pay rent to make a maintenance requests online. Cutting out paperwork also fulfills the Millennial preference for green living.
The Call of the City…or City-Like Amenities
Millennials are well-known for being drawn to cities and city life. Whether your apartment community is in the heart of bustling metropolis or in the suburbs, you can capitalize on this preference by highlighting certain appealing aspects of your property. Is the neighborhood easily walkable with nearby shops and restaurants? Is there easy access to public transportation for those without cars? Are your units dog-friendly — Millennials love their pets! — and is there a dog park onsite or nearby?
In addition to fulfilling Millennials’ ideas of what life should be, keeping the focus on “urban” amenities also helps satisfy their cravings for all things practical. Today’s wired generation expects seamless connectivity in the form of fast internet access and good mobile phone reception. Cutting-edge onsite fitness centers, live-work lounges, and other “community” minded amenities, meanwhile, help social residents work and play outside the walls of their home.
The widespread Millennial preference for renting over and buying means new and exciting opportunities for savvy property managers willing to embrace the Millennial mindset and incorporate it into their marketing strategies. One last thing to keep in mind when renting to Millennials? Skip the hard sell, and instead focus on the experience. Millennials crave authenticity above all else. Delivering the information they want through the proper channels can help you reach them in the most effective way.