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Millennials: The Next Big Thing in Small Business

by Ashlie Hannah

New Data Shows the ‘Convenience Generation’ is Shaping Product and Service Expectations, and Represent a New Era of Entrepreneurship

Millennials now comprise more than half the workforce, and although many small business owners envision a future boom in entrepreneurship with millennials at the helm, they overlook their significant buying power. As it turns out, small business owners do not consider millennials in their marketing efforts, with 85 percent reporting that this is one stone they’ve left unturned. New data released by Manta reveals that small businesses are taking a different approach in their aim to appeal to millennial customers by adapting their products and services to better suit today’s convenience economy.

Small Businesses Don’t Market to Millennials

With only 15 percent of small businesses across all industries marketing to the millennial buyer, the vast majority are missing out on a large and powerful segment of the consumer population. The reason for this oversight ranges from lack of budget (26 percent) to doubts that marketing even works on millennials (7 percent believe millennials are turned off by marketing or sales pitches). Additionally, many (25 percent) small business owners just don’t believe millennials are key buyers in their industry.

For those who do target millennial buyers, the majority of their millennial-focused marketing takes place on social media (55 percent), followed by that business’ website or blog (16 percent) and email (13 percent). A closer look at small business owners’ social media efforts to reach millennials reveals that despite hype around relative networking newcomers like Instagram, Facebook still dominates the social network arena, with 63 percent of social communication between business owner and millennial customer, followed by LinkedIn with 18 percent. Thankfully, small business owners who invest in and make time to reach out to millennials are rewarded for their efforts: 80 percent see positive results.

“Trying to reach millennials may be daunting, but the payoff can be significant,” said John Swanciger, CEO, Manta. “Ignoring this important audience not only risks alienating a large market of potential customers, but also represents a failure to embrace those who will become the next generation of small business leaders.”

Small Business Adapts to the Convenience Economy

Even though small business owners aren’t going out of their way to market directly to millennials, they are finding more creative approaches to appeal to this customer base. As the most tech-savvy generation, millennial spending is high in convenience services such as Uber and TaskRabbit. In response, more than half (57 percent) of small business owners have adapted or are planning to change products and services to cater to the new convenience economy.

Millennials Are the Future of Entrepreneurship

The good news for millennials is that their small business mentors will be ready to hand over the reins when the time comes. Often painted as a lazy and recession-marred generation, millennials have a vote of confidence from small business owners when it comes to their entrepreneurship skills: Most (66 percent) small business owners believe that millennials will lead small business entrepreneurship in the future. The independent spirit and skepticism towards traditional advertising with which millennials are often credited, combined with a willingness to call the government and status quo into question are all traits that make for great entrepreneurs. While a fraction (18 percent) of small business owners believe that millennials may spur a decline in small business entrepreneurship, the majority sees the eventual changing of the guard as a marker of good things to come.

More Millennial Marketing Advice

For those interested in learning more about millennials and how to target this critical generation, Manta is offering access to a free on-demand webinar featuring FutureCast millennial marketing expert Brendan Shaughnessy.

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