Gary Yacoubian Weighs in on 'Capturing the Unicorn', Adapt to Millennials or Face the Consequences
Millennials are quickly becoming the most influential and essential demographic for the custom industry, and for better or for worse, everyone knew this moment was coming.
What that means is that the term millennial, roughly 22- to 36-year-olds, has been buzzing around for a while. It has felt like a looming problem that the future version of your business will undoubtedly have a solution for before it gets out of hand.
Well, according to Gary Yacoubian, that event horizon is right now.
During early hours of the ProSource conference in San Antonio, Texas, the President, CEO and Managing Partner of SVS Sound had one of the more interesting discussions on courting the millennial, and why their influence is so significant.
"Millennials are the most logical demographic to bring steep growth back to specialty A/V channels," Yacoubian said. "But they cannot be approached the way we approached baby boomers. The specialty CE retail, e-commerce, and integration spaces have largely been built on selling home technology to Baby Boomers, but the landscape has shifted."
And he's right. Millenials, Yacoubian says, are a maturing category. They are getting married, finding jobs, and making money. In fact, their spending power in the trillions and eclipse any other demographic right now. He notes that the long-standing champion, the Baby Boomer, has dropped their 36% of market share in 2014, to just 18% in 2016.
Millenials on the other hand, command 50% of the smart home market. Most of that comes from famous companies creating hyper-affordable entry points, read technology trojan horses, such as the Google Home or Amazon Alexa. These gateway technologies have invaded created a generation of early adopters and tech evangelists.
But, they have very different values. Two primary examples are cars and luxury. Yacoubian notes that these items are used to create status, but the popularity of Uber has removed the need for a car altogether. He explains that housing starts are down more than 40% from 2007 and the average integration job size is down nearly 40% in dollars from 2007. However, the average number of jobs per integrator is up 30% year-over-year. So, projects are getting smaller but are increasing in quantity. A nod to the fact that millennials are interested in smaller projects and spend their money differently.
And to his second point, it's not that millennials don't want a luxurious experience, they just expect it for a reasonable price. Samsung, Google, and Apple have all created world-class smartphone experiences that are sold at upper-middle-class rates.
These shifting landscapes of values and touch points are the first pieces to the puzzle when searching for millennials.
"Reach their values on their terms," Yacoubian said. "They expect to have an ongoing conversation with you. Not just the salesperson, they want to touch every part of your company. I wake up every morning to a dozen emails from customers because they expect that. The President of a company is not off limits for advice or feedback."
So how is SVS solving this problem and what can your business do today to start capitalizing on this market shift?
First, they have retooled their means of communication with their customer base. A solid social media strategy starts by considering your "social media as the new storefront," Yacoubian says. It's a crucial piece of your business, and a weak strategy is an easy way to get left in the dust. The engagement and community building a social media strategy can have is the most important part of building your brand and retaining engagement.
The next piece of information builds on that strategy. It involves being real, being authentic, and being conversational.
"Engagement starts by creating a conversation around the passion of your company," Yacoubian said. "Own it from the top. There isn't a post that I don't see or get involved with in some way. It's not just a checkbox, it's a strategy that makes sure every message you put out has touched someone that is core to your mission statement."
Yacoubian's biggest take away is that he has not only helped build an all-inclusive audience but one that can go pound-for-pound against social media accounts five times his size regarding engagement. His dedication to that community as well as his internal team has yielded some of the most prominent returns in his companies history.