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Business Articles
Marketing to Millennials
(published in Direction)
By Heather Larson


A young burgeoning generation is shaking up the way movers do business.

Earlier this year 29-year-old Claire Carrabba moved about 50 miles to start a new job as an associate attorney in Rhode Island. Although she moved because of work, her employer didn't pay for her move. In the past she and her husband had done plenty of moves themselves, but this time they hired Olympia Moving & Storage instead.

"This made a stressful time so much easier, quicker and efficient for us," says Carrabba. "Within 20 minutes our entire living room was packed and in the truck. We couldn't have done that ourselves."

Carrabba, a millennial completely satisfied with the service she received, wrote a five-star review for Olympia Moving on Yelp.

The millennial generation, those currently between the ages of 20-36, currently number more than 69.2 million, making them the nation's largest living generation according to a study conducted by Pew Research.

This group is just beginning to "flex their spending power" says a report released by Nielsen last September. Millennials are adept at multitasking, want to be informed about companies and their business practices, demand connectivity and convenience and choose the options that let them be in control, the report says. These core values influence their decisions.

Age Makes the Difference

Millennials at the younger end of the spectrum don't usually have student debt and not much discretionary spending money. They also haven't accumulated much in the way of belongings or household goods because they're living a minimalist lifestyle, so they opt for do-it-yourself moves. They ask their friends to load up their vehicles and in turn the mover buys them pizza.

But as they grow older and secure higher paying jobs, get married and consider about buying a home, their circumstances change.

"When they hit their late 20s or early 30s, millennials are more likely to hire a mover," says Rachael Lyons, director of marketing and business development at Olympia Moving & Storage, headquartered in Boston.

Mary Livengood, general manager of The Paxton Companies in Richmond, Virginia, agrees. It depends whether they are a college graduate or a young professional, she says. When they relocate for professional or advancement reasons, she sees more of them utilizing moving companies or their employers engaging one for the millennial. This group falls into a population who receive lump sums to complete a move and they are likely to seek out the options that will maximize the fee allotted them. According to a recent survey from T. Rowe Price, millennials are the "money conscious generation," she says.

Siting his own life as an example, Ben Cross says he's changed addresses 12 times since 2005.

"I did the first six moves in my personal vehicle," says Cross, vice president of business development at University Moving and Storage in Farmington Hills, Michigan. "Then I graduated to a rental truck and after that an interstate move paid for by the company I worked for necessitated a hybrid move (I got a moving-and-storage container and there were separate crews who loaded it and unloaded it.) When I reached management level and was given moving services, I started using moving companies and I never went back to doing it myself."

Getting your company's name in front of a millennial interested in hiring a mover takes some work.

Attracting Millennial Clients

Cross says you need to offer this generation the services they want and give them what's important to them. For example, they usually have high-powered computers, a video game system, and a flat screen TV at a minimum. Their valuables are mostly electronics. This creates a huge opportunity for moving companies to offer an inclusive package. Have your employees remove all the electronics in the first residence and then mount their TV on the wall, hide the wires and take care of everything electronic in the new place so the millennial doesn't have to lift a finger.

Full-service movers have weight or time minimums that this population may not want to commit to. Saying 'it's always been done this way' no longer flies with millennials, says Cross.

"Moving companies need to connect and respond to the ways that millennials or really any generational group like to do business," says Livengood. "Flexibility in communication styles and response times are a very important piece of the experience."

Lyons suggests that those born between 1981 and 1997 want to hire movers, but it's not worth it from the value standpoint. We need to make it easier for them, she says. Allowing them to take a survey over the phone or on video is one way instead of insisting on going to their home.

Movers also need to get these people a price on the same day they inquire, Lyon says. And make that pricing transparent. They want to know what something will cost and then they want to pay that amount, she says.

A good website and a good online presence also make them feel like they can trust your company, says Lyons.

Online Reviews Weigh Heavily

Besides looking for a clean, easy-to-use and understandable website, Thomas Bailey says these young people seriously consider reviews and testimonials from other customers. Bailey, himself a millennial and the business development manager for ReloTrans in Newburyport, Massachusetts, says those reviews should be on the front page of a company's website now, not a tab that you have to click on.

"They look at Yelp reviews, too, even though they don't know the reviewers and realize the reviews may be fake," says Bailey.

Lyons says Olympia Moving encourages all its customers to review their company. We send an email two days after their move and again two weeks later if they haven't yet provided a review, she says.

Whether we get a negative review on our site or on Yelp, we take that super seriously, says Lyons. We call them up the same day and ask what happened and what we can do to remedy the situation, she says.

"Usually they are more than happy to revise their opinion after that," says Lyons.

All generations want their needs met.

Millennials Want Exceptional Service

Cross says that those ages 20-36 have high expectations. If those expectations aren't met, they can find another mover at the scroll of a smartphone screen.

"It is said that they will make up 50 percent of the workforce by 2020," says Cross. "If a millennial hires a moving company they expect them to be on time, give the millennial updates and take good care of their stuff. If something is broken they want it fixed in less than 30 days."

Typical assumptions we've made about past generations, says Livengood, don't work with this younger population. Millennials and those even younger are on the run and are open to new ways to fit a process, like moving, into their busy lives. They thrive on two-way texting, virtual in-home surveys instead of actual in-home visits and emails rather than phone calls.

"We must keep up the pace with this dynamic demographic," says Livengood.

Moving companies need to listen to their millennial customers and potential customers and even solicit their opinions, says Cross. These are the customers of the future and we are doing a major disservice if we disregard the way they purchase and their expectations. "The world is changing and we need to change with it," says Cross.

Using Social Media to Reach Millennials

On our Facebook page we post pictures of our crews on jobs, good reviews and the charity work we do. We find that millennials do value that and want to work with real people, not a faceless corporation. Rachael Lyons, Olympia Moving & Storage

I like to build our brand on LinkedIn. I post photos and articles on my personal page that might be of interest to our clients. Then what I post is automatically retweeted through my personal Twitter account. People want to know who is talking to them. Ben Cross, University Moving and Storage.

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