A year on from GDPR enforcement, companies are still trying to find the right balance of great customer experience and compliance, especially for one cohort: millennials.
It’s self-evident that tighter regulation has made careful data management critical for every organisation. But what is less certain is how increasing demand for personalisation and protection can be juggled. Millennials are the perfect embodiment of these mixed priorities. Raised in a field of choice with a myriad of apps available at the touch of a button, this generation is quick to drop any company that doesn’t offer a seamless, personal interaction across channels; but it also prizes authenticity and digital security.
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Millennials: what they want and why it matters
Alongside the greatest EU data-handling shake-up to date, 2018 also saw millennials reach their prime. While soon to be outnumbered by Generation Z, millennials still make up 31 per cent of the global population and have hit peak consumer clout; now at the most important age range for economic activity, with spending power set to overtake Generation X by 2020.
As a result, winning millennial favour is vital to the success of any business; and a key part of that is tailoring experiences to meet their needs. But achieving this isn’t necessarily easy. Millennials are both tech-savvy and privacy conscious: research shows 45 per cent won’t share their data with companies due to security concerns. Yet confidence in companies has a sizeable influence on decisions; 94 per cent of millennials say trust plays a leading role in big purchases.
And the quality of experiences makes a significant difference too. Aside from a preference for personalised advertising, millennials want interactions to be fast, seamless and convenient; hence their tendency towards the ease of online shopping over physical stores, and quickness in abandoning brands after negative interactions.
Delivering the ultimate customer experience
To access millennial hearts and wallets, marketers must go beyond mass personalisation — not just adding names to promotional emails, but also providing precise, real-time tailoring. Interactions throughout each journey should be consistently aligned with individual needs, tastes and habits, regardless which channel or device they are using; all while showing respect for consumer privacy and data that builds enduring trust.
The question is: how can businesses perfect this refined marketing mix?
1. Follow the data rules
As obvious as it might sound, the best starting point is compliance with data regulation. This is not just essential to avoid considerable fines — but also to meet millennial standards. They may expect customisation, but millennials also demand responsible data usage; the 14 per cent that are willing to share data will only do so if they trust organisations to manage data ethically.
This makes upholding data law such as the GDPR critical: particularly rules around consent, the right to view data, and privacy by design. By serving access requests that explain how and where data will be used, and adopting robust protection measures, companies can gain the confidence of millennials, making it easier to gain their consent. Plus, they will have the added advantage of knowing individuals genuinely want to connect with their company.
2. Orchestrating data stores
Once practices are GDPR-adherent, businesses can focus on harnessing data to optimise millennial engagement. To ensure experiences resonate with audiences personally, they need a holistic view of each individual — and core to achieving that is producing an accurate, granular, and holistic data foundation through the process of advanced data orchestration.
Put simply, orchestration requires integrating data to create a complete picture of customers and prospects. Beginning by gathering information from every interaction — websites, stores, apps, chatbots and more — it can combine, cleanses and transfers data into the same language, before stitching it and applying continual enrichment. With the help of intelligent technologies to assess data as it flows in, unique profiles are built using information from devices identified as belonging to specific individuals. This data is linked, aligned, and constantly updated – all in real time.
The ultimate result is a 360-degree view of the consumer that companies can put into action as a marketing and experience-driving tool. With an in-depth understanding of specific millennials and their journeys, companies can decide where, how and when communications should be delivered: maximising individual impact, convenience, and results. That’s not to mention the fact data consolidation makes it easier to meet GDPR requirements, such as subject access requests.
3. Keep machines in check
Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to make the difference when it comes to understanding and targeting millennials, improving brand performance and high-speed, large-scale data processing. But there can be risks to working with new technology.
One particular issue is bias; machines are only as impartial and accurate as the data that feeds them, and algorithms that govern them. Those that glean information from the web, for instance, could be at risk of picking up biased, historic opinions and serving messages that severely miss the mark with diverse and modern millennial audiences. There are also infamous cases of gender bias creeping into smart tools; see Google Translate. Maintaining a positive brand reputation and consumer opinion means continuously assessing algorithms and shutting down all avenues of potential bias. Companies need to use high-quality data sources, as well as tech that can filter out all errors, prejudice, and discrepancies before it comes entwined with consumer profiles.
As tighter regulation impacts all areas of business, it’s increasingly difficult for companies to reconcile demand for tailored experience with calls for responsible data usage: particularly when it comes to discerning millennials. But that doesn’t mean this valuable generation is lost to businesses or marketers. There is plenty of scope for building a loyal customer base if companies commit to winning millennial trust.
By embracing data law, utilising smart technology to unlock data insights, and keeping AI ethical, businesses can provide tailored and effective experiences that forge lasting and lucrative millennial connections.
Lindsay McEwan, VP and Managing Director EMEA, Tealium