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Millennials Search For Solutions, Not Products

App creation has taught Millennials to work backwards from the solution, not the product.

The solution is identifying the problem.



Since the dawn of the internet (and earlier for those of you that remember Mr. Moviefone) people have been trained to look for the most seamless solution to their every want and need . Want to watch something? Netflix. How about a lift? Uber. Need groceries delivered? Instacart. Hungry? Seamless.

It seems that before people even realize they have a need, a product makes its way in front of them. Millennials, the first digital natives, have grown up learning this. No matter what they will want in the future, a product will find its way to their device and fill that desire.

For this reason we have seen the development of several behaviors. First, friction within purchase and product experience has created what we believe to be a looser commitment to loyalty. Millennial consumers are trained to believe that the smoothest experience wins, and even small bumps in the road motivates them to move to another solution that they feel is simpler and free of friction.

In our independent studies on millennial consumers we’ve made some interesting findings. When asking about how they research new products, we found they are using search tools much less than expected. When asked what tools they use to search for new products in the grocery or consumer packaged goods categories, more than 50% said they don’t use any tools at all, citing ‘none.’ Because they just aren’t looking. Major media sources ranked in the teens in terms of their awareness of identifying new products for purchase. Significantly though, 26% cited search engines.

In a separate study on dining, we inquired about how they research restaurants. Web tools like Google and Yelp topped the list. But when asked how they use branded restaurant apps to aid in decision-making (like Outback or Chipotle’s apps) only 9% acknowledged even using them.

They don’t credit mass media as a voice. Even word of mouth and recommendations ranked extremely low in terms of driving a direct purchase.

This combination of findings led us to an understanding. These consumers aren’t researching future purchases and spending time comparing. They are seeking an immediate answer. An answer to a question based on a problem they’re facing. Where should I eat right now? What will unclog my drain?

Millennials don’t look for products. They look for solutions.

A communications strategy based on benefits – directly tied to the problem they solve is critical to being discovered, or rediscovered at the zero moment of truth. They’re just as likely to search for ‘clogged drain’ as they are for ‘Drano’ by name, especially if they’re not familiar with the brand. And every new app-based service continues to train them to work backward from the solution, not the product.

For this reason branding is still important to rise up on the list of solutions, and even more important as consumers get deeper into the funnel. We have found that millennial consumers we polled create a grocery list by category first, and becoming a brand name added specifically to that list is getting increasingly difficult. Successful brands will learn to frame their messaging and campaigns around the promise of the solution they bring to their best customers. Making that clear will outline a reason for purchase, and leave consumers with a clearly defined understanding of the brand. And always framing the brand with as much relevance to the situation as possible, will keep the brand considered a solution and not merely a product.


To download these studies please visit our Resources Page here.

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