5 Phases of the Millennial Buyer (and why you should care)
Hello. My name is Brooke, and I am a millennial buyer.
I am obsessed with customer experiences and speak to on average about 3-6 oral healthcare providers a day. Many of the dentists, orthodontists and dental specialists I have communicated with over the last few years have told me the same thing: they intend to focus on millennial families as their new ideal patient demographic. That’s a smart strategy, as millennials are poised to take over the US economy, becoming the primary purchasers of most goods and services.
But what do practitioners actually know about these millennial families that they’re hoping to woo into becoming their newest patients?
I recently found myself considering the unique way a millennial buyer shops when I purchased a new car online, sight unseen, then got that car’s windows tinted by a third-party company. My car- buying experience typifies the “path to purchase” for a majority of millennials— and I think it’s critical that practitioners understand the ins and outs of that journey. I hope reading my recent experiences sheds light on the habits of your millennial patients – both current and future – and empowers you to find success in our changing marketplace.
PHASE 1 OF THE MILLENNIAL BUYER’S JOURNEY: MY INTEREST IS SPARKED
I’ll admit, I was browsing new cars even before I felt justified in making a purchase. One model in particular caught my interest after several friends purchased the same vehicle and raved about it to me. I’d sat in the car a few times, though I never actually took it for a test drive (none of my so-called friends would let me behind the wheel— according to them, I’m a bad driver.) Yet I was still keenly interested, going as far as to utilize an online tool to help design my dream vehicle.
I figured it was wishful thinking— I wasn’t in a place financially to make big purchases. After all, we’d had a baby that year, so a car payment wasn’t something our family really wanted to take on. But my interest was sparked, and once that happened, it was only a matter of time before I moved to Phase 2.
The Takeaway For You:
- A millennial buyer is highly influenced by their peers.
- Millennials nearly always begin their buyer’s journey online.
PHASE 2 OF THE MILLENNIAL BUYER’S JOURNEY: MY RESEARCH BEGINS
Like I said, I knew I didn’t need the car— but that didn’t stop me from thinking about it or doing some intensive Googling. I performed online research on Reddit, YouTube, and other miscellaneous forums that I found through my Google searches. I discovered all the information, reviews and content that I needed. Slowly yet surely, I was getting pulled in the direction of a purchase.
The Takeaway For You
- Millennials are “digital natives” whose first instinct is to turn to the internet.
- A millennial buyer will use social media and other online platforms extensively for the purposes of researching a purchase.
PHASE 3 OF THE MILLENNIAL BUYER’S JOURNEY: MY NEED IS TRIGGERED
While I was performing this research, the vehicle I owned was continuing to give me trouble with intermittent breakdowns and generally poor performance. Then one day the big one happened: a major, catastrophic breakdown, resulting in a repair bill totaling more than the value of the car.
It was exactly the trigger I needed. I finally had an excuse to buy the ride I was dreaming about. Plus, I already knew exactly what I wanted thanks to my conversations with friends and the research I’d performed. I’d even worked out the financials. Now I’d just have to act.
The Takeaway For You:
- Like all buyers, millennials may wait until their “want” becomes a “need” due to a particular circumstance or experience.
PHASE 4 OF THE MILLENNIAL BUYER’S JOURNEY: I AM INCENTIVIZED TO CROSS THE FINISH LINE
Even though I had a legitimate need for a new car, I could have waited a few weeks or months before buying one. Because I work from home, I don’t drive that frequently. I often take air travel for long work trips, and Uber for shorter ones. In reality, I might have been just fine without a vehicle of my own— plus, the extra walking would have been great exercise.
But then I saw an advertisement for a credit toward new car purchases made prior to the end of the year. In comparison to the price of the car, the credit wasn’t that substantial— but proved to be just enough to entice me to take action.
The Takeaway For You:
- Due to the limitless shopping options offered by online retailers, millennials are always on the lookout for a good deal or limited-time offer.
PHASE 5 OF THE MILLENNIAL BUYER: I AVOID ANY LAST-MINUTE ROADBLOCKS
There have been dozens (maybe hundreds) of times that I’ve fully intended to make an exciting purchase or commitment, but had a minor inconvenience get in the way at the last minute. And rather than deal with that minor inconvenience, I’ve moved on and dismissed the idea completely. It’s not logical, but it’s how I behave— and I know I’m not alone! Unfortunately for my bank account, that didn’t happen this time. Buying my new car was such a radically easy, hassle-free process, I had no reason not to make the purchase. My car arrived two weeks later, and I love it.
What made my car buying so easy? I did it entirely online — without ever visiting a car lot or even test driving the car. That may sound weird, but like or not, that’s my shopping preference — and it’s also the wave of the future.
The Takeaway For You
- A millennial buyer won’t engage in – let alone repeat – consumer experiences that aren’t convenient.
- Millennials prefer shopping online to shopping in person (most of the time).
- Millennials require a positive online experience.
CLOSING THOUGHTS: LET’S GET SPECIFIC
So, with all of the above in mind, what exactly can you do to make your practice more millennial-centric?
- Website – Create a fantastic online presence, including a modern and convenient website that helps patients find exactly what they’re looking for, what it costs, and how you can help them specifically.
- Reviews – Showcase more than just static images of your end product; include detailed reviews from satisfied customers.
- Google – Ensure your Google My Business listing is complete, optimized, and the best in your zip code.
- Easy scheduling– Streamline your appointment scheduling process, avoiding the common roadblocks or minor hassles that might prompt a potential future patient to abandon ship at the last minute.
- Utilize Experts– If you really want to get serious with the “millennial buying process” I highly recommend looking to a company like Straight Consulting where their entire consulting service is built around modern buying habits and how to incorporate them into your own practice.
- Virtual consultations– Offer easy and convenient virtual consultations through SmileSnap that allow future patients to meet with you to quickly understand what you can offer them and how you can help them achieve their desired outcome.
SmileSnap is a virtual consultation platform for people seeking dental services online. This easy-to-use service allows you to engage with patients in need of dental care anywhere, anytime— even when your practice’s doors are closed.
Available for specialists or general dentists – and for DSOs or large groups – SmileSnap is the forward-thinking marketing solution you’ve been searching for.
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