Gen Y for the W (Part 1)

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Howard Scott |

Millennials are diverse market, but educated and well-dressed

PEMBROKE, Mass. — The Millennial Generation can be a difficult market to crack because there is a lot of diversity within the group.

This is a challenge, but as the saying goes: “One man’s challenge is another’s opportunity.” The Millennial Generation, also called Generation Y, are young adults born between 1980 and 2000. The oldest is 36. The youngest is 16. Obviously, the youngest are still at home and under their parents’ auspices, but in a few years, they will be adults.

A portion in that age group are professionals—hard-working physicians, lawyers, small-business owners, administrators and executives who need to present well. These Millennials are interested in their appearance. In total, this grouping comprises 30% of the adult working population 65 years old or under.

That’s a big demographic, which translates to a lot of business. Millennials are trying to figure out how to work within the system in their own unique way. They’re also frustrated with having to deal with a lot of underemployment/unemployment and high student debt.

Some other characteristics: They don’t follow traditional media, like the daily newspaper or radio. They’re the most educated group ever—projected 36% college graduates. They’re marrying and having families later. There’s a strong environmental and save-the-world impulse, and that includes minimizing chemical use.

ECHO ECO-MINDED

Your first job is to reach out to Millennials. Get to know them. Sit down and talk. What are their career and personal dreams? What drives them crazy? How do they see themselves in 10 years? What is missing from their lives now that would make it more complete?

Of course, you can’t just stop a person in the street and ask if he is a Millennial and interview him. So go where they hang out. If my business were in Manhattan, I would visit several bars and clubs in Brooklyn (a Millennial enclave) and chat with strangers.

Ask questions and listen to what they say. Another approach is to speak to members of your family who are Millennials. Not your own children (too close a relationship), but perhaps your nephews and nieces.

Getting into the mindset and understanding Millennials’ needs will help you figure out how to win their business.

Try to employ students—high school and college—as counter staffers. These young Millennials will have an easier time talking with their older brethren. Of course, you want counter staffers to do a good job. That’s the first parameter. But, within that parameter, counter staffer-customer compatibility is important. Also, you could use your counter staffers as research subjects.

From your research, map out a plan. For example, you might determine that college students don’t like doing their laundry. If you are near a college, you might set up a pickup and delivery service for students in dorms who don’t want to spend the time doing their own wash.

Keep in mind that many of these kids have money. Not that it’s theirs, but their parents provide funds so that their children have plenty of opportunity for study, sports and having a good time. Such parent-supported students would make ideal dry-clean/laundry customers.

Possibly you could hire a dozen college students as representatives to sell the service and coordinate the pickup and delivery, in return for receiving commissions.

The Millennial Generation is concerned about the environment, too. Global warning, land despoliation, chemical abuse and animal exploitation are part of today’s consciousness.

Emphasize your concern about the environment. Become an environmentally friendly dry cleaner. Proclaim to everyone that you have gone to great lengths to minimize bad custodianship.

Tell customers you have searched out the cleaning system and cleanser that uses minimal chemicals and does the least harm. You refuse to use cleaning additives that harm the environment. You spend money to maintain your commitment to the future. You deal with vendors that uphold the same concerns. Furthermore, you donate to environmental groups.

Appropriately, you process clothes in an environmental cleaning machine that uses the least harmful chemicals.

Make your finishing processes ones that aerate garments as well as expose them to sunlight. Make your plant clean, well-lit and free of contaminants.

Train your staff to treat clothes with gentle hands. Possibly you have created a term for your cleaning process: “Eco-Cleaning,” “Apparel Greening” or “Microfiber Wash.”

Make signs, put up posters, and hand out cards describing the service. When dealing with Millennials, have your counter staff communicate the store’s commitment to the environment. They might say something like, “We only use chemicals that completely dissolve in the spinning cycle. That means, when you put on your clothes, there’s nothing but pure fabric.”

Being sincere is important. In time, you will become the No. 1 environmental cleaner in town. Before long, a greater number of Millennials will be disposed to become customers.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion!

About the author

Howard Scott

Industry Writer and Drycleaning Consultant

Howard Scott is a former business owner, longtime industry writer and drycleaning consultant. He welcomes questions and comments and can be reached by writing Howard Scott, Dancing Hill, Pembroke, MA 02359; by calling 781-293-9027; or via e-mail at dancinghill@gmail.com.

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