Estimated to be the largest living generation, Millennials have witnessed ever more intense courtship by businesses. Dubbed as disloyal and entitled, Millennials have been associated to a myriad of negative stereotypes in media. Still, getting their attention and more importantly keeping it has been a major challenge for many brands. It is true that these younger consumers aren’t as likely as Gen-Xers and Boomers to respond to traditional advertising or marketing tactics. Growing into their purchasing power prime, Millennials constitute a demographic ripe for targeting. However, why has it been so hard for many brands to connect with them? Let’s get down to basics! It is important to have Millennials well defined as a consumer segment. Moreover, akin to the effects of selling at the point of purchase, as discussed in our blog last month, communication with the consumer must be executed the same way; businesses must address their message to where their consumer will receive it. Thus, it is of utmost importance to know where to advertise to gain the attention of Millennials.
The terminology used to name generational cohorts such as Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z, is a rather unofficial social construct outside of the Baby Boomers, which is the only generation officially designated by the U.S. Census Bureau and defined as the generation of people born between 1946 and 1964. Looking to give more structure to generational nicknames, the Pew Center, a Washington-based fact tank, defined Millennials as the generation born 1981-1996.
It is mostly for analytical purposes that 1996 is a cut off between Millennials and Gen-Zers, determined by a number of political, economic and social reasons which defined the millennial generation’s formative years. What exactly are these reasons? Once again, defined by research from the Pew Center, key events marking the lives of Millennials include: being of cognizant age during the 9/11 terrorist attacks and growing up as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan unfolded which polarized their views on political parties; being a powerful voting force during the 2008 US federal election which helped bring the first black president into office; and being part of the most racially and ethnically diverse adult generation in the history yet, bringing globalization to a whole new level. Focusing on marking economic events for a moment, Millennials came of age or were entering the workforce in the midst of a 2008 recession, bearing an influence on their life choices and future earnings. With rising costs of living, lower out-of-college income when adjusted to inflation, and increasing levels of debt, Millennials are dubbed as the first generation to be worse off financially than the previous one.
In terms of technology, Baby Boomers grew up as television spread; Generation X grew up as the computer became mainstream; Millennials, on their end, came of age during the internet expansion. Indeed, the rapid evolution of the way people communicate and interact is a decisive generational factor. Growing up with constant exposure to technology will define Gen-Zers, with research on the topic recently starting and already showing dramatic shifts in youth behaviors, attitudes and lifestyles.
When it comes to technology, more analysis by the Pew Research Center found that 92% of Millennials own smartphones, compared with 85% of Gen-Xers, 67% of Baby Boomers, and 30% of the Silent Generation, the latter being defined as those born between 1928 and 1945. Moreover, 85% of Millennials, say they use social media, and a significantly larger share have adopted relatively new platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat than older generations have. In congruence, this analysis backs up the Center’s recent decision to establish 1996 as the final birth year of Millennials. As a matter of fact, contrasting with smartphones and social media, Gen-Xers have outpaced Millennials in tablet ownership for several years, as 64% of Gen-Xers versus 54% of Millennials say they own tablets.
Brands have started spending great resources on digital media, and with reason. Digital marketing is a colossal and expensive undertaking, featuring heaps of competition. Still, if anyone plans to reach millennials, and has read our previous paragraph, it will appear clear that Millennials are most probably on their phones in their free time. When they are, they’re most probably on social media. Nowadays, the major influencer, when it comes to the millennials’ purchasing decisions, is social media. For example, 72% of them report buying fashion and beauty products based on Instagram posts.
Traditional advertising is fading fast as millennials focus on experiences and interactivity over hard sells. Unsurprisingly, The Millennials on Millennials Report published by Nielsen unveils that millennials have the lowest program engagement and lowest ad memorability scores. Content creators, sometimes synonymous with influencers, have effectively caught on and provided companies with more interactive and immersive material. It is interesting to note that, in terms of openness to advertising, millennials are more receptive to viewing ads than other generational groups as long as the content they are viewing is responds well to their values. Also, partly due to the diversity they grew up in, millennials will look for brands that genuinely reflect this concept.
Still, peers’ recommendations can garner a lot of customer conversions, as found by Hubspot. Indeed, 71% of Millennials are more likely to make a purchase online if the product or service comes recommended by connections on social media. Inherent distrust of brands and traditional advertising, paired with a trust in what their peers say, as well as research of validation, are often thought to explain this behaviour.
Besides, Millennials grew up with product reviews and social tools to share opinions before committing to a purchase. More than that, millennials see social media as a way for customers to express brand loyalty, and it also provides an unofficial endorsement parallel to influencer marketing. This embodies the rise of this word-of-mouth culture that values trusted endorsements. To build this trust, brands must understand that because of the diversity among millennials, targeting isn’t a one-size-fits-all model. Thanks to the increasing amount of ad management options, targeting has become extremely individual. Personalized marketing and even product personalization have become the norm.
Brands that are interested in reaching millennials should certainly use social media to address them, but wisely. However, to be successful, it is imperative that businesses recognize that millennials look to social media; not so much for promotion and advertising, but for personalized messaging, feedback and reviews. Of course, in all of the aforementioned points, a business must feature mobile friendly messaging, hence must consider investing into multiple platforms to extend its reach across channels.
3 easy tips & tactics to catch the attention of Millennials
- Make sure your product is Instagram-worthy
To achieve this, nurture a brand aesthetic that is easily recognizable and whose visual standards are well represented in the things you post. The latter should fit with your brand personality. To expand your reach on Instagram, make sure to feature hashtags and location tags in all of your posts that will be used by your customers. This will transform them into your best content creators and advocates.
- Offer a canvas for them to add their personality
What better way to achieve this than to offer your customers a chance to personalize their product. Not only does the appeal of uniqueness speak to Millennials, but offering product personalization is known yield higher conversion rates and reduces the costs of inventory. More so, Millennials are willing to pay a 20% premium for the opportunity of personalizing their product.
- Appeal to frugality
Millennials are driven by fear of missing out. Offer them a personalized experience, event, or special offer to tap into their drive for being in the current. Sharing a sneak peek of something that’s trending and timely will work wonders. Moreover, special coupons, deals, and product trials delivered on social media resonate with this customer base.
Naturally, to communicate with the customer, a business must understand and speak their language. They must also address the message to where their target consumer will receive it. Thus, it is of utmost importance to be present on social channels where most millennials’ conversations happen. Keeping their attention will be challenging due to the amount of choice they are exposed to, but staying true and offering them an opportunity to express their personality will certainly keep them hooked.