In case you missed it, the Millennials are now the largest generational cohort in the world, having overtaken the baby boomer population in the United States last year—following similar boomer-trouncing success in Brazil, India, and China—and comprising two billion young people internationally.

That’s a lot of potential customers for marketers to target and enterprise contact center personnel to learn how to serve. Indeed, a report published last year by Bank of America Merrill Lynch says that Millennials currently account for $1.3 trillion in direct annual consumer spending in the U.S. alone.

But many observers are understandably worried about Millennials’ continued ability to spend their hard-earned cash. A new study undertaken by The Guardian, in partnership with LIS in Luxembourg, has found that for the generation that came of age during the Great Recession, a “combination of debt, joblessness, globalisation, demographics and rising house prices is depressing the incomes and prospects of millions of young people across the developed world.”

To make matters worse for businesses hoping to gain—and retain—Millennials as customers, this generation’s financial challenges aren’t the only obstacles in the way.

The Rise of Millennial Minimalism

Even among those lucky few Millennials who are gainfully employed, relatively debt-free, and have surplus income to spend, there’s a steadily growing movement of lifestyle minimalists who refuse to spend a dime if they don’t have to.

Consider the trailer for a forthcoming documentary, Minimalism, produced by three enterprising Millennials, Joshua Fields Millburn, Ryan Nicodemus, and Matt D’Avella:

A frothy brew of post-recession woes, environmentalism, concerns about social inequality, and general anti-capitalist sentiment—evidenced by everything from Occupy Wall Street to the Bernie Sanders campaign—has congealed into a rising tide of tight-fisted wariness among Millennial consumers that has left many traditional retailers concerned for their future, including Macy’s, Urban Outfitters, Best Buy, and Bed Bath & Beyond, who all reported weak sales this past holiday season.

However, as The Washington Post noted in January, industries proffering experiences—like air travel, restaurants, and online streaming media—are actually still faring surprisingly well. “Increasingly,” the Post reported, “shoppers are passing up the cashmere sweaters or leather handbags and instead shelling out for experiences such as a beach vacation, a dinner out on the town or a concert.”

And understanding the reason why experiences are succeeding above all else may be the key to understanding how even the most traditional retailers may be able to transform members of the Millennial generation into happy, paying customers.

Embracing the New Experience Economy

The emotional value to be gained from investing in unique experiences instead of focusing on the acquisition of more material stuff is the resounding central theme of the minimalist movement. It also happens to coincide with an idea that astute customer experience professionals, such as Joe Pine, have been insisting upon for years—namely, that successful business models must be increasingly driven by experiences rather than traditional goods and services alone. It’s an idea that Pine and his coauthor, Jim Gilmore, famously dubbed The Experience Economy, and it is almost certainly the secret to figuring out how to engage Millennials as customers.

As the world’s first “digital native” generation, who never knew a teenagedom without the Web, the Millennials grew up learning how to be completely satisfied, fulfilled, and entertained with nothing but ephemeral, digital experiences—ranging from video games and online chat rooms in the ’90s to YouTube videos, Spotify, and Netflix today.

Is it any wonder that they’re the ones pioneering such innovative, experience-driven businesses as Facebook, Snapchat, and Airbnb? And is it any wonder that unless they’re offered an interesting and memorable experience, their attention will be hard to capture and retain? There’s nothing to own or buy when one uses Facebook or Airbnb, and Snapchat snaps are as ungraspable and fleeting as digital experiences can be. But the use of those services is indelibly memorable, and creating those memories in the mind of a customer is what the experience economy is all about.

As Joe Pine told The CX Report last year, “the basic idea is that you use goods as props and services as a stage upon which you engage each of your customers in an inherently personal way. By doing this well, you create a positive memory, which is the hallmark of a good experience.”

But you don’t need to operate a sharing-economy business like Uber, Relay Rides, or Vinted to mine the tremendous potential of the experience economy and capture the hearts of Millennials everywhere. For manufacturers and retailers of material, physical, tangible goods—or providers of traditional services such as the banking and hospitality industries—there’s another obvious domain in which to reinvigorate your business by offering amazing experiences.

That is, of course, the domain of CX. As the chief differentiator across every industry today, the domain of customer experience remains a wide-open arena for even the most traditional enterprises to position Millennials’ passion for experiences at the center of everything they do. And it isn’t just in marketing. Millennials crave positive, memorable experiences in every interaction—whether they’re calling a customer service advisor on the phone, engaging with a business over Twitter, or asking a salesperson for assistance in a store—and the quality of that experience can make or break the trajectory of that customer’s unique journey with your brand.

So our advice? Study Millennials’ passion for experiences and learn from it, sincerely striving to put the importance of the “experience” front and center in every Millennial customer experience. At a time when any customer can engage, directly and personally, with a company’s CEO over social media, gone are the days of mere transactional business exchanges. The creation of thoughtful, authentic customer relationships is now the only way to fly.

Millennials really aren’t that hard to understand. As one minimalist puts it, “What’s more important to you? Getting a new car or remembering when you got your first car?”

We can all relate to that one. And that means that even if you’re in the business of selling cars to young Millennials, make the experience for each customer a positive, memorable one. They might just tell their friends, tweet about it, or return someday to buy a newer model.