Adjusting Marketing for Millennial Appeal
Who Are Millennials?
The millennial generation is now the largest living generation. Think about it: this group basically consists of everyone under about 35 who is old enough to consume. They have a lot of power.
As I mentioned last week, they’ll compose 50% of the workforce in 2020, and 75% in 2030. Once again, a lot of power. If they haven’t already formed the bulk of your customers, they will soon.
As consumers, they’ve dramatically shifted marketing strategies and conventions. As they mature into positions of greater influence, reaching them will increasingly dominate marketing dollars.
The singular most important quality of the millennial generation is that they are the first generation of digital natives. They don’t remember a time without desktop computers, and many don’t remember a time without cell phones. They’re at home with these devices in ways that are hard to comprehend for older generations, but comprehend it we must if we wish to stay relevant.
Social Media is Essential to Staying Relevant
Social media may seem like a game or a frivolous distraction to some of us, but it’s a meaningful and influential dimension of life for millennials. They’ve grown up bombarded by an enormous volumes of images and messages, so they do not trust traditional advertising and they do not respond to the hard sell.
They are accustomed to lots of social sharing, so it’s vital to recognize that social media is your review now, with potentially greater influence than that of a traditional authority. They value word of mouth, and that word is considered more reliable when it comes from someone they’re already connected with, like a friend or colleague. Consider the term “social proof” — meaningless a generation ago, a pivotal goal for marketers today.
This group of consumers likes to see themselves in the media they’re following, so user-generated content is more important than ever. That might mean traditional reviews, but it also means posts on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and more. A savvy company can harness the power of user-generated content, and cultivate it through contests, awards, sharing and acknowledgement.
Millennials spend a lot of time online, so when they find a product that they love, or have an experience which they treasure, their nearly automatic response is to talk about it online. The good news: They’re reliably transparent. It’s their nature to tell us what they love, as well as what they hate. All we have to do is listen and engage.
Faced with a daily avalanche of information, Millennials are prone to FOMO (fear of missing out). They respond to a sense of the unique: provide them with a one-of-a-kind experience, event, or special offering, to feed their urge to feel involved.
Social Media Is a Two-Way Street
When it’s time to reach out to a company for customer service or to share an opinion, most millennials start that conversation online, often via social media. Instead of turning first to a company’s website, they’ll ask questions and post comments on social media via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. When they experience a successful and satisfying dialogue or outcome this way, they attain that holy grail of modern marketing: they feel connected! Engaging in a quasi-public forum such as twitter, they start to feel like a collaborator, making them more than connected: they’re now engaged, and they’ll reward the company with their loyalty, which translates into sales.
Abundant Data Comes with the Territory
One happy accident of the digital generation: they’ve been studied more widely than any generation before, so we have a lot of resources at our disposal. This intense interest is partly because these digital natives represent such a radical shift in so many cultural norms around communication and interaction, and partly because their communication channels are so easily studied. It’s nearly effortless to gather and crunch data, in contrast to a few decades ago. As our marketing efforts evolve to woo this enormous and influential segment of our society, we benefit from a lot of resources at our disposal.