Is Your Supply Chain Ready for the Millennial Generation?

The Millennial Generation, or Generation Y, have become a far more vocal and dominant group of individuals in recent years. They are confident in their values, open to change, and well-connected to the people and things around them. This generation is largely driven by their civic values. They believe strongly that companies should act with corporate social responsibility (CSR).

The Millennials also believe in change and are always looking for ways to improve. They keep an open mind to new ideas and look for adventures in their everyday life. Finally, this is a highly social generation. Technology has made them the most connected generation thus far. They are familiar and comfortable using tech and often rely on it to make everyday tasks effortless.

This generation grew up in a time when there was a large cultural shift in parenting. Millennials were raised with a collaborative mind set by parents who believed in equal relationships. They were told they could accomplish anything if they put their mind to it and had the support of a team. This created a positive minded generation with a strong sense of team structure and the drive to accomplish great things. Being born between  the early 1980’s to the early 2000’s, this generation is now entering the workforce. They are becoming both contributing and highly influential members of society. We have already begun to see what effect this generation has on the retail environment, but we should more importantly examine how the Millennial generation will impact and influence modern business supply chains.

There are three main traits that are sought out by the Millennials in terms of product purchasing and shopping. They are expecting prompt service, customization, and items being made “the right way.”

Prompt Service

Right now, one of the biggest trends supply chains are working to meet is the demand for shorter delivery times. This trend was influenced by e-commerce companies like Amazon who offer same-day delivery. This is largely because of a perceived trait of the Millennial generation: a need for instant gratification. In an interview, Shoes.com CEO Roger Hardy pointed out that “If [consumers] are ordering something online, today is better than tomorrow or three days from now. We see the younger consumer being more and more that way.”

Millennials want quick and easy access to the products they are seeing online. As a result, we are seeing more and more companies alter their operations to meet this demand. However, it certainly present challenges. The number of companies we see making these changes is only going to grow in the next few years.

Customization

Millennials are not only looking for unique products, but also a customized experience. This generation started a trend in which buyers now evaluate what they consume on more than just when they get in the box. Part of what influences their purchases is the experience that comes along with it. More and more companies are emerging from the demand this trend is creating.

One example of this customizable experience is the “meal in a box” delivery service market that has recently emerged in the US. Consumers are trying to move away from typical fast food restaurants by looking for healthy options. With these services, customers get the gratification of the “home cooking” experience, but with half the effort. These companies take all the beforehand work out of it by sending consumers all the fresh ingredients they need to cook a delicious meal. This is largely made possible because of the unique supply chain and operations in place. As a result, Millennial consumers make purchases with not only a quality product in mind but also a process that supports that quality image.

“The Right Way”

The Millennial generation has caused a large shift in CSR. 84% of Millennials said that CSR has a significant impact on what they buy or where they shop. They care about where their products come from. In this past year alone, we have seen many companies alter their processes and branding to meet this demand. McDonald’s for example, is even seeing the impact of this trend. Over the past year they have had to alter their supply chain sources and operations to demonstrate a higher level of CSR and provide customers with more visibility. Millennials want to know that the companies that create the products and services they are buying do so “the right way.”

The Millennial generation’s influence has only started entering into the majority market. Whether your supply chain is ready or not, the next few years will see an increase in these trends.