Get used to selling to Millennials, polling CEO warns

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Mark Brownlee
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They represent about a quarter of the population and, six years from now, they will make up about 41 per cent of those who are working-age in the country.

David Coletto is the CEO of Abacus Data Inc.

They are the group of people, born between 1980 and 2000, known as Millennials. And David Coletto, the CEO of polling firm Abacus Data, said businesses better get used to them.

“If you are a business, if you are in HR or looking to recruit workers two, three, four years down the road, you’re going to have to deal with us,” said Mr. Coletto, a Millennial born in the early 1980s, in a speech to Ottawa’s business community Thursday morning.

“You’re not going to be able to find any other workers.”

Many boomers tend to scoff at the high expectations Millennials have for salaries, benefits and jobs, he said. But he said businesses would do well to learn more about them so they can hire and sell to them.

Mr. Coletto said that many Millennials actually share a lot in common with baby boomers in that, in general, they want to get married, have kids and buy a house.

However, there are also a lot of differences.

Millennials, for example, are far more likely to own a smartphone than older generations. He pointed out that 79 per cent of people aged 18 to 29 use a smartphone.

“I used to say two years ago that if you’re not online, you don’t exist to this generation,” he said. “Increasingly I’m going to say if you’re not mobile you’re probably not existing either with this generation.”

This means that Millennials are far more likely to be “brand ambassadors” online than other generations. If they like a product or a service they will be far more likely to show their support for it on social media like Facebook.

Businesses also need to account for the slowed pace at which they are reaching adulthood. For example, he said his research shows that about 70 per cent of the Millennials who are over the age of 30 say they still rely on their parents for some form of financial support.

That has important implications for baby boomers who are thinking about selling their homes in the future, for instance, since it’s unclear if there will be enough demand from Millennials to buy those houses.

Mr. Coletto spoke at Eggs ‘n Icons, an event co-hosted by the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce and the Ottawa Business Journal.

Organizations: Abacus Data, Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, Ottawa Business Journal

Geographic location: Ottawa

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