“Collaborative Buying”: Hispanics & Millennials Share Decision-Making & Shopping

For marketers trying to “break the code” with Hispanic and Millennial segments, one key may be in a common decision-making pattern shared by both: They are “collaborative buyers” or “sharing shoppers,” strongly dependent on family and social spheres of influence when making purchasing decisions. Winning these segments over, whether for insurers trying to enroll them into the ACA or for a CPG trying to sell them a personal product, or for a luxury retailer, may have as much to do with building a trusted, positive & successful relationship, and allowing that impact to ripple outward through the family, communities and marketplace.

In recent months, books and research are being released focusing on a “new” trend in “collaborative buying” and “sharing shopping.” While it may be newly noted for Millennials, it is an established pillar of the collective-oriented Hispanic culture based on their familial structure which has migrated to their vast social network communities.

Culturally, Hispanics figured out a long time ago that sharing is winning, that family and community is a powerful dynamic, superseding that of the individual, and that there is something to be gained from face-to-face relationships and personal recommendations. For Hispanics, the circles of influence generally start with family, then to friends, expands to co-workers, extends to community influencers and finally experts. Rather than making a quick decision on their own, Hispanics value aligning opinions from these various circles. This is particularly true when facing decisions that personally impact them and their families, such as buying a car, or choosing a doctor or bank. They prefer social, face-to-face business transactions, with those who come recommended by family and friends.

 The decision-making pattern is very similar for Millennials.  New research shows that Millennials, while appearing to be strongly individualistic in their identities and paths, are also “collaborative buyers” and “sharing shoppers.”  Their decision patterns can be considered part traditional and part contemporary.  Like Hispanics, Millennials require inputs from a broad personal circle of influence, starting with immediate and extended family, to friends and social networks. They also utilize their connections through smart phones, social media, and the Internet to seek a certain amount of cross validation from several other sources.  When it’s a brand that is not well-known, or it is a system that is foreign to them, or complex, such as ACA and insurance or banking and mortgages, then there will be even more fact-checking and self-education as they try to understand how to navigate the system.

 

“Collaborative buying” is becoming increasingly evident when you look at the growth in review companies like Yelp, on-line product reviews on sites like Amazon, “Like Us” on Facebook, and blogs and on-line chats sites where people can discuss products and solutions.  People are depending on product recommendations by other “real” and experienced customers, and trusting their social network community’s opinion over anything a company puts out. The Internet is making this “sharing shopping” a lot easier.

While these Internet examples are easy to note, there is still the face-to-face, word-of-mouth recommendations that are shared around the kitchen table, at the office water cooler, or at happy hour as friends and family discuss the pros and cons of any given product or service. Among Hispanics and Millennials this face-to-face family and friends input is an equally important part of their decision-making pattern.  Companies cannot underestimate the importance of a positive customer experience and the resulting good recommendation.

Two Keys for Marketers

Understanding the collectivist attitudes and the predilection for  “collaborative buying” and “sharing shopping” for Hispanics and Millennials, marketers can focus on two key areas on to engage them, build strong relationships, and affect the social influence within these segments:

1.    Create Strong Communication on Multiple Channels to connect with Hispanics and Millennials  

Relevant Information delivered in a culturally competent fashion is vital to build relationships and create an environment of trust. Communication should include In-culture & In-language offerings in the following areas:

–          Written Materials

–          Mobile and social media

–          Radio, TV, Print, Images

–          Grassroots presence and outreach

–          Face-to-face customer interface, available in-language, with relevant in-culture knowledge and training

–          Relationships with trusted entities, community-based organizations, churches, local leaders, and industry experts

2.    Create positive customer experiences at critical consumer touchpoints

Recognizing the strong collective and collaborative culture among Hispanics and Millennials, positive experiences with current customers will have a lasting, ripple effect through the community.  Current Hispanic and Millennial customers can become personal, “ambassadors” for your product or services via word-of-mouth recommendations to others in these critical segments.  Likewise, news of negative customer experiences can result in negative word-of-mouth that easily spreads through the collective community and break the trusted relationship that is so important to Hispanics and Millennials.  Some critical customers touchpoints to consider include:

–          Enrollment Process/Sale

–          Applications

–          Help Desk, Claims

–          Providers/Networks

–          Facilities/Locations

–          Agents/Navigators/Staff

About SSG
SSG is a growth consulting leader driven by management P&L experience, Big Data and predictive analytics. We develop fact-based business models, insights, customer experiences and roadmaps that profitably segment distinct customer groups and drive revenue. We help clients focus their limited resources where the highest ROI opportunities exist and customize strategies advancing efficient Total Market growth fueled by Millennial, Multicultural & Hispanics segments.

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