According to the U.S. Census Bureau, millennials are currently the largest living generation, surpassing baby boomers, and accounting for more than a quarter of the U.S. population. As they have become the most valuable demographic, estate planners need to learn how to tap into this new market if their businesses are to evolve. Understanding who millennials are and what they value should be the priority in any estate planners marketing efforts.
Getting acquainted - who are millennials?
In 2018, millennials range in age from 21- 38.¹ Economically, many millennials have significant student loan debt saddling them in addition to dealing with a hostile job market. And it's because of those factors millennials are marrying, having children, and buying homes at a later age--if at all.
Having grown up in an ever increasingly globalized world with instant access to information, millennials are a socially conscious generation. As this awareness informs their spending habits, millennials are drawn to socially and ethically-minded products and businesses. According to a recent study, 9 out of 10 millennials would switch to a company that has a social cause.²
Like the generations before them, these differences in priorities are having significant impacts on the consumer market. Many businesses are working toward becoming more socially and environmentally responsible, to catch the eye of millennial consumers. And what’s more, it’s working. Companies everywhere are going through significant efforts to rebrand themselves as humanitarian and sustainable.
Communication methods and brand appeal
Now that we better understand who millennials are, we need to understand how they communicate. As technology saturates their world, millennials are used to quick and immediate methods of communication. These more immediate methods mean long, in-person meetings are out, and emails, instant messaging, and video chatting are in.
Attorneys must get more comfortable with technologically-focused communication, including having a website and a blog. Make yourself available via online chat and text messaging. The ambitious attorney could even take their platform virtual and live--creating videos on YouTube and Facebook live.
But how do you appeal to millennials once you get their attention? To attract millennials, estate planning attorneys have many options. Since millennials buy from socially and environmentally conscious businesses, an attorney should heavily promote any pro bono or philanthropic work they do.
Attorneys can also focus their efforts on rebranding by creating social mission statements, going paperless, enacting energy-efficient policies, and collaborating with charitable organizations.
Education and empowerment
Now that we know how to talk to and attract millennials, how do we get them to buy our products and services? It’s true; millennials are still a young generation who may not be worried about end-of-life planning. As attorneys, we know that this is only part of the benefit of estate planning, so educating millennials must be a priority. If we talk about estate planning regarding living empowered lives, rather than death, the topic becomes more relevant.
Below are a few topics that millennials might find engaging
Despite waiting later in life to have children, about 40% of millennials are already parents. Like any parent, a child’s welfare becomes a millennial parent’s priority. Appeal to this sentiment by discussing what happens to their underage children, should they unexpectedly die without a guardianship plan.
With a national student debt of 1.4 trillion, the average student now owes over $37,000. It’s no wonder that millennials are worried about their debt. Help educate them on how wills and trusts deal with debt so that it won’t be passed on to their spouse or family. Many millennials may be unaware that, unlike federal loans, private loans will not discharge after death.
The next few decades will see a massive transfer of wealth--to the tune of $30 trillion--and millennials will be the primary beneficiaries. As such, they will need guidance on estate management. Educate them on how a trust can safeguard their inheritance and empower them financially.
Millennials are animal lovers and are not afraid to invest financially in them. Engage with them by asking if they have planned for their pet’s care in the event of their death or incapacity. Do they know that probate can delay the financial care of the pet? Does the caretaker they’ve selected for their pet have the resources to care for the animal financially or should they leave behind money in a pet trust?
¹Millennials in Adulthood. (2014, March 07). Retrieved March 14, 2018, from http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2014/03/07/millennials-in-adulthood/
²2015 Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study. (2015). Retrieved March 14, 2018, from http://www.conecomm.com/research-blog/2015-cone-communications-millennial-csr-study