Every personal lines agent is concerned about the delay in milestone moments associated with millennials.
Thanks to increasing student loan debt, many millennials are either renting or returning to live with their parents instead of purchasing a home. They’re also getting married later in life compared to their parents, in addition to having fewer kids at a later age. In the aftermath of the 2008 economic recession, many millennials were forced to take jobs that did not fit into their intended career path—which means they’re still not earning their desired incomes, even though they now comprise the majority of the workforce in both the U.S. and Canada.
As millennials were growing up, they observed their parents working hard and buying cars, boats and other material things. But they also noticed that many of their parents labored to the extent that they could not travel, except perhaps the traditional family vacation, and struggled to achieve a work/life balance.
As consumers, millennials are therefore less interested in owning things, including cars and homes—which helps explain why the shared economy is booming and technology firms like Uber, WeWork and Airbnb are growing rapidly. And according to recent research from the Harris Group, 72% of millennials prefer spending discretionary income on experiences. It appears baby boomers may be taking a leaf out of the millennial book, too: Retirees are beginning to downsize homes and eliminate second cars and other material purchases.
For businesses, this leaves CEOs to ponder low sales at a time when they’re relying on older generations to meet financial targets. Independent agencies are also feeling the impact of these trends as they try to replace and grow their personal lines books. Some companies are already noticing and reacting to these trends. In response to challenges with driving consumers to its stores, for example, Macy’s now offers mini concerts, yoga classes and cafes to create an enhanced shopping experience for customers. How can you take an intangible product like insurance and make it more of an experience?
First, consider discussing the lifestyle choices millennials are making—cycling, kayaking and other active hobbies—and how adequate insurance can protect them as they embark on their experiences. Second, millennials value philanthropy, so sponsoring a 5K to fundraise for charity would be a great way to promote the agency and engage millennials.
Finally, make your office a destination where a customer would want to bring a friend. Consider making a visit to your agency more of an experience by offering free Wi-Fi, open seating, a television and beverages. Have you thought about sponsoring a monthly book club or hosting a guest speaker?
Without a doubt, there is a new normal regarding shifting demographics. But independent agents can harness these trends if they are committed to adapting their approach to millennials.
Dave Evans is a certified financial planner and an IA contributor.