Marketing to Millennials might seem difficult and more challenging than it actually is, but it’s just a matter of understanding the market dynamics in which you play. Who are Millennials? What do Millennials want? Once you can figure this out, then give them what they want better than anyone else. Here are some insights into who Millennials are and how to attract and market to them, aligning your strategies to what they want.
Millennial’s are now young adults who represent the largest demographic group in the nation (86M strong). This generation ranges from the early 1980’s to the early 2000’s (age 14-34). According to comScore data, the Millennials’ purchasing power is estimated at $170 billion. By 2015, the annual spending power of this generation is expected to be $2.45 trillion (Source: oracle_gen y survey) and by 2017 they are expected to outspend the Baby Boomer generation, a major consumer opportunity for marketers.
Millennials are true “digital natives” who are extremely comfortable with technology and social media having grown up completely online. They consider themselves fast adopters, being the first to try new technology which is an integral part of their life and work. They tend to own multiple devices such as smartphones, tablets and gaming devices. With access to these devices comes constant contact to the internet in which knowledge can be obtained anytime, anywhere presenting marketers with the most informed consumer generation ever. They need access to information 24/7, anywhere they go. Millennials value the ease, speed and convenience of acquiring products vs the touch and feel of it. They care more about instant gratification and getting in and out of stores than receiving exclusive “friendly” service. And because there are more options to choose from, Millennials tend to put off life choices (i.e. taking longer to get married with so many online dating choices, taking longer to have kids with technology allowing women to get pregnant well into their 40’s, etc.).
Millennials obsess about the size of their social following because they have the opportunity to have and maintain more relationships than ever. They are more likely to explore brands on social networks and interact with them. They use the internet as a platform to broadcast their thoughts and experiences and to contribute user-generated content. This generation is a far more engaged generation especially in activities such as rating products and services (60% versus 46% of non-Millennials) and uploading videos, images and blog entries to the Web (60% vs 29%) (source: BCG). 46% of Millennials count on social media when buying products online (source: YouGov). This generation is unbelievably good at multi-tasking, constantly moving across platforms (mobile, social PC and gaming) or studying while listening to the radio or watching TV. They are seen as the most optimistic of any generation alive today with 49% saying, “the country’s best years are ahead” (Source: PewResearchCenter). However Millennials are skeptics, distrustful of people in general and distrustful of traditional advertising being more likely to listen to the opinions of their peers. 32% of Millennials say they don’t like advertising in general (source: Experian Simmon) while 91% of Millennials would consider purchasing a product if a friend recommended it (source: socialchorusstudy).
Millennials not only want to know what your product will do for them but what it will do for people across the globe. They believe in supporting endeavors that are good for the environment and are receptive to cause marketing being more likely to choose products whose purchase supports a cause. So how can you market to a generation that is everywhere, skeptical, with no traditional usage of media? This generation is much different than previous generations. The way they watch TV, use the internet, develop relationships…is all very different. They might be doing a combination of these activities, so marketing to them is being overshadowed by their multi-tasking abilities. Or they are not doing any of them so reaching them as a marketer seems to be near impossible. Here is what you need to keep in mind when targeting Millennials, to earn their trust and in turn their business.
Build A Relationship: Build a relationship first and worry about the monetization later. Long term relationships with Millennials encourage lifelong customers, not one-time customers. It’s important to market alongside Millennials instead of to them.
Create Conversational Marketing: Millennials appreciate conversational marketing. So create a two way dialogue with them. Give them an opportunity to speak to you (rate your products, give reviews, share comments, experiences/stories) and take every opportunity to share with your audience creating an atmosphere of belonging to a community which Millennials love. It’s also important to identify brand advocates early on and support them; praise them for their involvement. Consumers enjoy being recognized for the time they put into creating and submitting content. Marketers can drive more authentic influence by employing a model to recognize these advocates for their assistance. However, it’s crucial to have the right brand advocates as the wrong ones can be ineffective and detrimental to your brand.
Be Authentic: Consumers want authenticity, especially Millennials. 75% of Millennials see themselves as authentic and are not willing to compromise their family and personal values. Your brand must be true, transparent and trustworthy in order for Millennials to want to associate with it. Jimmy Fallon took over The Tonight Show this past February and it has since become one of the most watched late night shows in history with 11.3M viewers, the biggest Tonight Show audience in five years with almost 3 times the season’s average of 3.9M. One of the keys to Fallon’s success is that the show delivers a sense of authenticity with Fallon being himself as he entertains us.
Stop Talking and Start Listening To The Conversation: If your goal is to create a good relationship with Millennials, then start listening to the conversations that they are having about their products, company and/or services. Traditional marketing is about talking at consumers. In today’s world, marketer’s need to sit back and take the time to listen to Millennials. This generation is eager to share and eager to tell us what’s important to them. It’s up to us to figure out how to fit into their lives, giving them what they need rather than selling to them. If you can address their needs and desires than Millennials will do the heavy lifting for you, becoming your brand advocate. Sign up for Google Alerts, visit Technorati and see what Millennials are blogging about.
Show How Your Product Will Impact Their Lives: Millennials want to know what your product will do for them before they spend a dime. Marketing efforts can no longer provide just a product overview but has to show how your product will impact their lives. Are they necessary to everyday tasks? Will they help bring out something new in ourselves? Do they empower us to do something better? Do they make a positive impact in our community/world? If you saw Microsoft’s Child of the 90’s video for the Internet Explorer and you were a Millennial, you probably felt the tinge of nostalgia and shared it with your friends but went right back to using Google Chrome because you didn’t learn anything about Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 new features. However the recent collaboration between Target and FEED Project is a great example of the programs’ impact on the community and portraying the brand through the lens of giving back by donating meals for product sales, a winning strategy to reach Millennials. FEED USA + Target Collection and FEED USA + Target Road Trip Overview.
Leverage What Is Topical/Trending: Leverage news or trending events within your social communities but only if the topics align with your brand essence and overall social voice. Ensure you tailor the content so that it stays true to your audience and generates strong engagement. Oreo did this beautifully with their Oreo’s Daily Twist Campaign. Every day for 100 days they took a pop culture event e.g. Pride and re-imagined it through an Oreo biscuit. Starting with Gay Pride and finishing with user generated choice, the campaign was a fantastic success (1M Facebook likes, 231M earned media impressions and 4% increase in sales).
Create “Snackable” Media Content That Has Virability: It’s important to understand your audience, know how to keep their attention, know what they will feel compelled to share and talk about with their friends. One thing that Millennials love is telling the world when something cool, great and/or exciting is happening to them or someone else. With the average adult attention span of just 2.8 seconds, “snackable” media content helps grab their attention, quickly engaging them whether there on the go or on a smaller screen, hopefully leaving them hungry for more content in the future. Creating “snackable” content that Millennials can relate to, that involves them directly and is worth their effort to engage in (e.g. viral videos, tweets, great stories, Facebook likes or something that seems exclusive) will give them a reason to tell everyone else about it. That said, if your content doesn’t contribute any new information, then it will die on the social wall as quickly as you have sent it out. Always be asking, why should they care? Will they be inspired to share?
Incorporate User Generated Content: Millennials are more likely to trust who their friends trust and products that their friends recommend. Word of mouth is key to their trust in a brand. When consumers can contribute something to your brand, it makes them feel more connected to your brand and your company. Marketers have an opportunity to leverage and influence user-generated content and empower consumers to tell their brand story. User generated content can include conversations around your brand and/or product, reviews, blogs, social media conversations, bulletin board and forums. To generate user generated content, ask your consumers to 1.) teach you something (Millennials love DIY and how to projects, ask them to submit their own projects and product uses). 2.) tell their story (people love real-world, personal experiences. Nutella asked fans to share their stories about the company’s product for their 50th anniversary. Dove asked women to submit photos of real women’s bodies. ADT asked users to tell how ADT has helped them). 3.) personalize the brand (offer them the spotlight by encouraging them to share content and then use that content in marketing materials. U-Haul uses customer contributed photos in their new truck designs).
Focus On Consistent Messaging: Regardless of the type of messaging, it is crucial to keep it consistent. You will not build trust among your audience or build lifetime customer value if you say one thing and do another or change your message frequently.
Engage Online: When it comes to social media, Millennials are engaged in YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn among other platforms. They visit pages based on recommendations, searches or by linking in through a website. They prefer purchasing products online vs going into a store for ease, convenience, speed and efficiency. Their online purchasing expectations are set pretty high these days with extensive services like Amazon Prime. You know what makes Millennials instantly turned off to a company? When they show up at a site and it is barren, outdated and not easy to navigate. To keep Millennials short attention span, you need to make the online purchasing process as easy as possible. Millennials are lazy about inputting most information so utilizing services like PayPal will definitely help grab their dollars. Be sure to keep your social media invigorated with scheduled updates and understand that it’s a balance; too much effort into one platform can lead you to forget about the others. Focus on the platforms that yield the best results. Tailoring your marketing efforts with these thoughts in mind will help you market to an increasingly lucrative generation.