7 Tips for Attracting and Retaining Millennial Customers:

How Retail Energy Suppliers Can Appeal to Generation Y

by John Bastian

Millennials are coming of age in droves – and retail energy suppliers need to take note. While New York City and Los Angeles remain millennial magnets, research shows smaller cities, from Virginia Beach, VA to Riverside, CA, are seeing the greatest relative growth in their 25- to 34-year-old populations. And in Texas, millennial population rose by 10 percent from 2010 to 2015., Following are seven strategies for attracting and retaining millennial customers.

1. Out with the Old

Magazine ads, direct mail and radio commercials have proven their worth, but they won’t work with the younger crowd. According to a 2014 survey, 84 percent of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising. With so much information available online, at their convenience, these ads come across as disruptive and unsolicited.

2. Get Social

Social media marketing is a must. Having grown up in the age of “likes,” comments and online reviews, millennials prioritize peer-generated social proof over features, benefits and catchy slogans. Overall, social media influences more than 60 percent of millennials’ buying decisions, and two-thirds of that 60 percent say it’s more credible than television. What’s more, utility companies that have implemented a strong social presence have reduced customer turnover by up to 20 percent.

3. Multichannel Communication

A Nielsen study found younger TV viewers channel-surf less than their parents and grandparents, but due to their ever-shifting attention, their memorability rates are lower. From Facebook to commercials to email, create multiple touchpoints – and make sure your messaging stays consistent and plays to their preferences. Millennials prefer text messaging to other forms of communication, followed (in order) by email, social media, phone calls and in-person appointments.

4. Content is King

It’s tough for suppliers to compete on price. With millennials, you don’t have to. They’ll compare rates on their own, but what really captures their attention is helpful content. How can they lower their energy bills? How can they interpret their usage data? Answer these kinds of questions through articles, videos and blogs.

5. Stay Transparent

94 percent of consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency, and millennials are setting the trend. In fact, nearly three quarters would pay more for a completely transparent product, and more than half said they’d stay loyal to a transparent company for life.

6. Make a Deal

Millennials ultimately want to know what’s in it for them. A J.D. Power study found millennials are more engaged with programs that allow them to take control of their energy usage, so advanced smart metering services are a must. Prepay, flexible billing schedules and pick-your-own pay date options are also a plus.

7. Invest in Technology

Partner with technology providers that can deliver what millennials want. Myriad tools exist to streamline content marketing, social media posts and e-mail outreach. Likewise, the right billing software makes it easy to offer promotions, variable rates and flexible fee schedules.

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John Bastian is CEO of SMARTGRID CIS