3 Ways to Engage the Under 30 Market – a Case Study from McDonald’s

how to engage younger consumersI was using the free WiFi in a McDonald’s the other day (my office doesn’t have chocolate chip Frappes), and I saw something that illustrated a truth we business people had better deal with.

A crew of air conditioner repair men came in to have lunch, four of them. They got their food and sat down at the booth next to me. Well, two of them did, the older ones. The other two, young guys of maybe 21, sat up on stools that were perched in front of those touch screen video games you see in McDonalds these days. All four men tore into their sandwiches and started talking.

What struck me, and inspired this article, was not their conversation, but what they did while talking. The young guys, while both eating and talking to their seniors, started playing the video games. They would make a comment, chomp a bite of Big Mac, and hurl a bolder at a virtual castle wall. Rinse and repeat.

The ease with which these young people incorporated a digital medium into the most commonplace of activities, lunch at Mickey D’s, really impressed me. I have visited that same franchise dozens of times, and have never once even thought of playing those games. But I am nearly 40 years old.

Which is my point. Success in business depends on staying ahead of the curve and connecting with your target markets in the ways most comfortable to them. My fear is that many business owners are a little behind when it comes to fully digitizing their businesses. There is an entire generation of consumers that is coming of age as digital natives. They have always had an iPod, a PC, and an Xbox. In short, they can eat a cheeseburger and play a video game at the same time.

I would like to offer three suggestions to help you stay in touch with these potential customers and gain their business.

1) Have a solid website

That little thing you built yourself on GoDaddy six years ago is not going to cut it anymore. If the under 30 crowd doesn’t see a modern site from your business, they will bolt. Spend a few bucks and upgrade. Also, that site needs to be responsive, which, in Web talk, means it will work on any device, no matter the size, automatically. Just ask a good developer. S/he will know what it means.

2) Advertise online

There are many options here, and the cost-effectiveness will surprise you. When the under 30’s want something, they look for it online first. You therefore need to be waiting for them.

3) Engage in Social Media

Younger consumers are thoroughly social; they want to be friends with the people to whom they give their money. This is a personally connected generation, so connect with them. Social Media, especially for business, is a labor intensive undertaking, but well worth it on the backside. Make some time to get comfortable with it, or hire it out. Either way, please get your mind right on Social. It is only going to get more important.

Don’t miss an entire generation of customers for lack of trying. Take these tips, and I think you’ll be surprised at the response you get. You might even be able to manage some of this over a box of chicken nuggets.

Are you interested in reaching the under 30 market? What are some of your ideas on how to do it?

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