Serving the Harry Potter generation: Making the magic happen

The Harry Potter generation, AKA the Millennials, have very different expectations to their predecessors of the products and services that they buy – and from whom they buy them.​

By:  Britt Myrset: Director Digital Customer and Retail Industry Lead, Norway
Kamilla Vedeler: Digital Customer Analyst, Norway
Adele Heger: Accenture Interactive Analyst, Norway

The ‘Harry Potter’ generation, – AKA the Millennials – are rapidly becoming the dominant group of consumers. And they have very different expectations to their predecessors of the products and services that they buy – and from whom they buy them. In addition, how they expect to use what they buy is different too. Millennials are looking for ‘magic’ in the experiences they get. They don’t want to deal with the tedious and time consuming details of administration and waiting. So to meet millennials’ needs, retailers and consumer goods companies must maximise the magic (and minimize all the boring details).

Brought up as the first wholly digital generation, many millennials can barely conceive of life without the internet and social media. Their experience of sharing information about themselves, their likes and dislikes has led to a willingness to share much else besides. We can see that propensity manifesting itself today in the success of Uber or AirBnB – the first global businesses of the sharing economy. But those are really just the start. With millennials far less attached to ownership than predecessor generations, sharing models will disrupt established models in an ever-increasing range of goods and services.

Millennials are not in search of products. They’re looking for solutions to their needs. They are largely indifferent to who (ie which brand) delivers what they’re looking for. And they’re more likely to trust the judgement and recommendations of their personal network (virtual and physical) than anything else. But that dependence on a network does not mean that millennials can be treated as a homogenous group. Far from it. In fact, personalisation has never been more important. Goods and services that do not meet the precise needs of millennial consumers as individuals will be rejected in favour of an alternative that can.

But even here, there’s a twist. Staying on the right side of the fine line between what is considered ‘cool’ and what is viewed as ‘creepy’ is essential. Using consumer information and preferences to design and propose relevant offers is acceptable. Even applying predictive analytics to make suggestions about what consumers might want next (before they even know it themselves) is likely to be welcomed. But stray too far into personal space, with communications that go beyond talking and enter the realm of ‘stalking’, and a company will be quickly cut off. Understanding where the line lies – especially given the differences in attitudes between millennials and their ‘generation X’ predecessors – is critical.

The consumer’s ability to choose with whom they share information and which brands they trust is driving a big shift in power. Retailers once ‘owned’ consumer relationships with almost exclusive access. Digital means that’s no longer the case. Regardless of where they sit in the value chain, all consumer businesses now have an equal shot at developing trusted consumer relationships. But to build those connections, businesses need to make sure they understand how this generation is different from others. That means, first and foremost, building their offers around real consumer needs. They then need to create the formats and interactions (physical and digital) that deliver an experience to which consumers can relate and feel that was created ‘just for them’. It’s a big challenge. But millennials are not going away. And consumer businesses need to make sure they can deliver the magic this generation expects.

Read more about the Harry potter generation and digital trends in this Slideshare presentation