#MillennialMonday : Marketing to Millennials

Millennials are the largest generational cohort since the Baby Boomers. They are also the generation with the most impressive educational résumés and the ones who being tech-savvy is second nature.

For these reasons and many more Millennials are shaking up the world in several different arenas. We constantly hear about the “Millennial Vote” in politics, or the student loan debt crisis that is crippling the economy.

Beyond the more obvious changes, Millennials are causing a stir on the marketing end of things.  In fact, their consumer behavior has been called more unique than generations before. Unique in the sense that they are throwing marketers and advertisers for a loop since traditional means are not powerful enough in capturing Millennial attention.  Learning the tricks of the trade, Millennials have become bored with being “sold” to and want an experience whenever they pull out their wallet for a purchase.

What’s even more impressive is that Millennials tend to have stronger brand loyalty, but it takes a lot of work and satisfaction to go into the mix before Millennials pledge their loyalty. But beware brands, hell hath no fury like a Millennial scorned.  Should something go awry Millennials will hit the ground running, most likely to never give a brand a second try after they’ve been burned.

Millennials tend to support brands that have a sense of social responsibility and give back to the community. Whether it’s Chipotle promoting no GMOs and sustainable farming, or Toms donating a pair of shoes whenever a pair is purchased, Millennials are cognizant of companies that are doing more than just selling a good or product. Millennials want to support companies that are making a difference.

In fact Corporate Social Responsibility is so important it affects what Millennials buy and what products or services to recommend(84%, 82%) where they work (78%) and what stocks and mutual funds to invest in (64%).

All of this goes to show why marketers today are shaking in their boots trying to cater to the Millennials.  It is becoming a more intricate process and there is more to lose, as according to Forbes, Millennials have about $200 billion in annual buying power.

So how exactly are marketers adapting to Millennials?

1.) Typical ads are out, more interactive marketing is in

Millennials seek to participate with the companies they purchase from.  Very few Millennials say that a typical advertisement convinces them to make a purchase.  But that doesn’t mean that advertisements are going away.  Marketers and advertisers are adapting ads to give a more storytelling approach in order to draw Millennials in and have them relate to their product.  During this year’s VMA’s Clean and Clear launched a new ad that gained huge recognition on social media.  Ads like these, most famously launched by Swiffer who introduced us to Morty and Lee, have been huge hits in gaining attention.  The bigger picture here, is that marketers aren’t just using these techniques on Millennials alone, and its working!

2.) Brands can score bonus points with CSR

Corporate Social Responsibility is in with Millennials.  They don’t just look to buy products and services from socially responsible companies, but look to invest in them and have a desire to work for those companies.  If a company behaves socially responsible not only will they see sales loyalty from millennials, but loyalty in with greater importance to companies like investments and loyalty expressed through employment, taking on the role of a company ambassador.


3.) Meet Millennials where they are: through technology

Millennials are juggling computers, smart phones and tablets and almost has many social media platforms as the number of fingers on our hands.  Meaning to reach Millennials the best is through those platforms in a convenient, technology-based way.  Knowing where Millennials attention is drawn to their social media and smart phones, marketing your organization through those channels is by far the best way to have your message stick with this generation.

4.) Give Millennials the keys but let them drive the car

Millennials are a tricky generation.  They want the convenience when it comes to purchasing, but once the deal is done, they want to be left alone.  I remember as soon as I bought my new car, being hounded by emails only to be aggravated with the company.  I had the tools to ask my own questions –  if I had any – and receiving a few emails a day made me want to run for the door.  When I wondered how to integrate my smart phone with my car, I pulled out my manual and figured it out.  It may be more work and even contradict our desire for convenience, but we want it done on our own terms.  Be too pushy and we are out almost as fast as if you screw us over.

5.) Brand loyalty is ride or die

Millennials are loyal to a fault, but screw us over and we are out faster than you can say loyalty.  Customer service, social responsibility and product quality are all factors in what push Millennials in their loyalty to a brand.  It’s no surprise that Apple is the top of the list for Millennial brand loyalty. Their product quality is fantastic, and even when something goes awry their customer service really makes up for it. (There’s also no surprise that Apple is one of the Top 10 Companies for CSR according to Forbes.) I remember an inconvenience this past spring where my iPhone stopped working.  I was leaving to go on a conference out of town and my phone needed to be cleared.  I lost everything – but the great customer service I got had me looking at the experience as needing a purge rather than being pissed I lost my photos. Apple is one of my “love marks” – brands that an individual considers themselves in love with and has exceptional loyalty to.  Even though I hear some smart phones have surpassed the iPhone I can’t find myself ready to switch – and that is quintessential Millennial loyalty.

6.) Don’t count out the power of research and old fashioned word-of-mouth

Millennials research everything.  When I was looking for a doctor, I researched the doctor that was recommended to me.  Remember making college class schedules only to explore ratemyprofessors.com? Well even into adulthood Millennials look to research anything they are about to purchase.  But if they can’t get to Yelp or other consumer review sites, they look to recommendations of others, and that could be the best tool for brands today.  I remember Chipotle being recommended to me, and the quality and experience backed up the recommendation.  I have now become an avid ambassador for Chipotle and find any other competitor second-rate.  I’m not ashamed to admit it.  I remember someone who recommended Salsarita’s – a Chipotle competitor – only to be disappointed and never return.  What’s even more profound is that I don’t rely on that person’s recommendations.  What is profound about research and recommendations is that it is telling of Millennial follow through.  Finding research and recommendations that are crappy – Millennials will rarely entertain trying it out for themselves.  This means word-of-mouth can spread to make or break a company.

So all-in-all marketing to Millennials is proving to be an evolving process that may completely shift how all individuals are greeted with companies’ products and services.

To learn more about the power that Millennials are bringing to the arena, check out this Forbes article here.



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