Until recently, the smart advice to business sellers has been to direct their pitch towards the most affluent sector of the market – the Baby Boomer generation.
However, the demographics are now changing and this strategy may be approaching its sell-by date. With the majority now enjoying retirement, and becoming more selective about purchasing, the focus is switching away from 'boomers'.
So it's time to look at the new front-line prospects: Millennials.
what does the Millenial market look like?
A 2013 report by ANZ (Australia and New Zealand Banking Group) revealed that the number of Millennials in Australia, at 6 million, had surpassed those of the boomers or Generation X who sat at 5 million each.
Born between 1980 and the early 2000s, the more mature Millennials are now working and by 2025 will make up 75 per cent of the global workforce.
It’s clear that this age group can no longer be ignored in the marketplace, but selling a business to this generation requires a clear understanding of their very different needs and expectations.
Though some claim all Millennials are just pampered and lazy, research shows 85 percent to be either employed or in full-time education. In reality, this is yet another powerhouse generation which shares the typical business attributes of dynamism and passion for innovation, together with a more contemporary appreciation of the benefits of strong collaborative engagement.
Viewed from that perspective, it's not hard to see there's plenty of potential for success with a range of franchise arrangements and business start-ups. Even so, it's important to realise these relative newcomers are totally savvy and will be looking for, and perhaps demanding, entrepreneurial options which can deliver a decent work/life balance.
Their own life experience has taught them 50 per cent of marriages will be unsuccessful, and consequently, in addition to fruitful business outcomes, they are inclined to place an equally high value on happiness and fulfilment.
Respond to enquiries quickly
Defined by their obsession with technology, this '18 to 36' age-group can spend up to 18 hours a day on the phones, tablets or computers. As a result, they are used to life in the fast lane, but expect it to be efficient and convenient too. In this context, they will appreciate a rapid response to an enquiry with a brief, but ultra-relevant description of a listing. So be prepared to impress by making your point succinctly and without superfluous embellishment.
Millennials are streetwise consumers who will react badly to anything less than complete transparency. They will expect, and value, an honest factual approach which is clearly evidence-based. Sellers who underestimate this need to demonstrate a genuine interest in the buyer and establish trust from the outset could be in for an unpleasant surprise. This smartphone generation know how to verify information, cross-reference sources, and access peer reviews in an instant, so never make promises you can't keep.
Besides openness, Millennials will expect an 'active-voice' involvement in any discussion, and will certainly see any chance to make a strong personal contribution as a real advantage. So a seller who listens to these is likely to find this helps negotiations to gather momentum.
Advertise in the right places
Turning to the more general advertising of business listings, sellers targeting the Millennial sector must consider precisely how, and where, to find their target audience. This generation is virtually immune to TV advertising, and according to Crowdtrap research, 71 per cent access social media on a daily basis. This means that paid-for online advertising on You Tube and Facebook is likely to have the most impact, and that peer reviews, assessments and recommendations will likewise be very important.
The overall message to business sellers is: Millennials are arriving in the marketplace, and selling strategies must be realigned to accommodate their demands, or else be prepared to lose that deal to those who do!