Curt Steinhorst of The Center for Generational Kinetics kicked off Cultivate’15 with a dynamic keynote address filled with humor on how to bridge the generational gaps in the workforce and use it to your competitive advantage.
Steinhorst says that his generation of Millennials has a reputation for feeling entitled, an attitude that many employers are baffled by.
The biggest question is, where did this attitude come from? Steinhorst says you don’t have to look much further than parents who wanted their kids to have an easier life than they did, so they paid the college tuition, financed the cars, bought the clothing and covered the rent on the apartment and on and on.
“Baby Boomers who wanted your children to have an easier life, I just want to let you know, mission accomplished,” he says. “Millennials have had all of the freedoms of adulthood without the responsibility.”
One problem with this is it has pushed every major market of adulthood back by several years, Steinhorst says. What Baby Boomers were doing in their late teens and early twenties, Millennials are doing in their late twenties and early thirties.
Steinhorst says Millennials are doing things later in life and are just now moving to their buying power position. It’s a critical time for the horticulture industry.
The good news is Millennials are up for grabs because they haven’t established brand loyalty yet. And interestingly enough, Steinhorst says, every other generation is moving toward their buying preferences, so if business owners can understand what they are looking for, they can make small shifts in their business that will capture Millennials’ attention and benefit the rest of their customer base, as well.
Here are a few things Steinhorst says you need to know about Millennials in order to reach them:
- The way Millennials were raised by their parents affects how they interact with others.
- Technology is a lifestyle for them. If you want to communicate with them, you have to make use of it. For example, Steinhorst says, if you don’t exist on social media, you don’t exist to Millennials.
- Millennials are not necessarily tech savvy, but they are tech dependent.
- Millennials haven’t had a lot of experience with buying horticulture products. There is a lot of fear out there.
- Millennials only read the subject line of an email, from there they decide whether or not to read it, forward it or delete it.
- Millennials are uncomfortable with face-to-face communication and often see phone calls as an invasion of privacy. Plus, texts allow them to respond when they want.
- Millennials are entirely visual.
What Can We Do To Help Millennials Engage With Plants?
Steinhorst offered several ideas to help business owners.
- Keep it simple; keep it easy.
- Use short, one- to two-minute videos that create visual examples to show Millennials how to grow and use plants. If you want to help with their lack of experience, whether it is with younger employees or younger customers, write down five or six things that you are seeing, then make short videos that illustrate those skills. These can be as basic as how to plant a tree or the appropriate attire for work.
- Overcome the fear of purchasing by making an appeal to the VIP (very important person) in them. Everyone wants to feel unique or special. Use that to your advantage.
- Move toward selling by screen.
Steinhorst says for the first time in history we have four distinct generations working side-by-side in the horticulture industry. That is 40 years of experience across the board. If we want to bridge the gap in the workplace and in the marketplace, we have to be willing to adapt to Millennials’ buying preferences and make a better effort to understand that their behaviors are sometimes the product of their lack of life experiences, not necessarily a feeling of entitlement.