I am a millennial. Somewhere between 18 and 30 years old (I won’t say exactly), I am a part of the tech-savvy, connected generation that is increasingly filling up workforces and, most importantly, your customer bases. But it’s getting harder to get our attention and loyalty as customers. With a lot of options that sell the exact same product or service, we are inundated, nearly overwhelmed, with choices for where to spend our time and money. That makes it harder for you, the business, to entice us through your doors and make the sale. And if you can’t create a reason for us to come in your store, we’ll just find the product we want online instead.

All that competition for our attention (and money) has caused one big problem: we don’t only care about the product anymore.

We take it for granted that businesses should be able to provide quality products. Fast food, clothes, electronics, cars, kitchen gadgets – any product we buy, we just expect it to be good. Therefore, businesses can no longer rely on their product quality to get our attention. You need to offer something more.

For example, any shop can make a good cup of coffee, but when we visit the location the coffee isn’t all that we will remember or want to share with our friends. We will remember how we felt in the location, what the atmosphere was and what we saw, heard and smelled. Those elements combined form the basis of Experience Design, the complete customer experience with a business.

Take that simple cup of coffee and serve it in a quirky Parisian-inspired bistro with fork-and-spoon chandeliers, the aroma of fresh pastries, and a bustling café atmosphere, and we’ll remember you. We’ll be excited about you. We’ll probably even tell our friends about you or bring them in with us, because we love to share great experiences.

That is the business plan for Amelie’s French Bakery, a “shabby chic” restaurant with 3 locations in the Charlotte, NC area. Amelie’s has become a trendy hangout for college students and young professionals who frequent the café for the pastries, drinks and sitting areas crowded with plush chairs and whimsical artwork. If the same products were sold in a plain, poorly designed location few people would be interested and the business might fail.

The reason for this is simple: millennials expect more. We want to be drawn in to your business and exposed to something new and surprising – whether that’s an upbeat overhead music program or a visually stunning digital display. We want to feel a connection with your brand and your story. When we get a full experience instead of just a product, we love it. We will talk about it, tweet about it, put up a Facebook or Instagram post praising your company for our hundreds of friends and followers to see. That turns into free advertising for you and, ultimately, more customers for your business. But with dozens of coffee shops to choose from in a city, we need more than just coffee to get us talking.

So give us that excitement. Give us interaction, give us an atmosphere that we can’t get from your competitor two blocks away. Then we’ll give you our business.

– Submitted by Samantha Knowlton, Marketing