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    Understanding millennial patients and staff

    This generation wants to engage more, and preferably digitally

    Millennials, also known as Generation Y, can drive Generation Xers and baby boomers crazy. Many Gen Xers and Boomers don’t embrace those young, fresh faces because their approach to life is so foreign. Whether your practice wants to market to millennials or you need to hire them to be part of your eyecare team, understanding these up-and-comers is the key a successful relationship.

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    Millennials, Americans born between 1980 and 1994, are the largest generation in the United States. They exceed the large baby boomer generation and are poised to be the largest generation in world history. Currently, they represent one-third of the total U.S. population in 2013.1 With approximately 92 million people in their ranks, millennials will become influencers of politics, the economy, and societal trends. Their influence is already being felt. By 2017, millennials are projected to spend roughly $200 billion annually and $10 trillion, cumulatively, over their lifetimes in the United States.2 Buying power means that advertising will be tailored to them in both content and delivery.

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    Appealing to millennials

    While they will be spending billions of dollars annually, getting millennials to value your product and invest in it is a little tricky. The mean income for this generation has dropped by five percent over the last 10 years, and its student loan debt has more than doubled.3 With less disposable income, they’re driven to make purchases out of necessity.

    The question is, how do you make your practice and products a necessity? Brands aren’t as critical for this generation. They look for value and quality over the name on the label. Stocking a boutique optical with the likes of Tom Ford, Jimmy Choo, and Oliver Peoples may not draw crowds of this generation like it would Xers and boomers. Only nine percent of millennials strongly agree that they always try to by a branded product.

    More from this issue: Why patients are choosing eyecare apps over you

    Rather than brand names, millennials seek brand love. They want to build a relationship with companies based on helping a greater good. Some 50 percent of millennials would be more willing to make a purchase from a company if their purchase supports a cause.4 Toms, a forward-thinking company founded in 2006, was one of the first to welcome the “one for one” concept. For every pair of Toms shoes purchased, the company promised to deliver a pair of new shoes to a child in need in one of many countries around the world. In the first six months, the company received nine times the available stock, and 10,000 pairs were sold.5

    Toms was one of the first companies to embrace the kind of corporate responsibility that appeal to millennials in a big and public way. It is joined by other companies like Fetch Eyewear who donate 100 percent of profits to animal rescue”6 and Warby Parker’s “buy-a-pair, give-a-pair program.”

    Next: Reaching out to millennials

    Whitney Hauser, OD
    Dr. Whitney Hauser received her Doctor of Optometry degree in 2001 from Southern College of Optometry, where she completed a ...


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