Logic would say that when your target market changes, your marketing strategy should change as well. The problem is that the newer generation is unlike any of the others and poses a stumbling block to advertisers. Millennials are changing everything businesses know about advertising and marketing. Why? Because they have different buying habits, priorities, and way of thinking than the Baby Boomers and Generation X. Millennials are now the ones businesses need to market toward, because they are becoming the majority of consumers. They now define how adults spend their money, and they’re spending it based on different reasons than any other generation before them. The best way to understand how to market to Millennials is to understand who they are and how they are different from previous generations.
Who are the Millennials?
This generation includes those in their early twenties to mid-thirties and are typically perceived as one of the worst generations yet. In reality, older generations just don’t know how to understand Millennials and therefore label them as “lazy” or “irresponsible,” while Millennials would label themselves under “open-minded” and “independent.”
A Few Facts about Millennials:
- They value experiences, passion, happiness, connection, and adventure.
- They are open-minded and have different work ethics, such as fighting the 9 to 5.
- They are postponing big, life-changing decisions like getting married, having kids, and buying a house.
- They are the entrepreneurs and the most educated generation.
- They were the first to grow up submerged in technology.
- They have the most debt from school loans.
- They are the most tolerant generation of all races.
- They make up the biggest part of the workforce.
Millennials are not all the same and cannot be placed into a simple demographic. They range from single mothers to middle-class professionals and can be found in just about every social class and industry. They will make you question every marketing strategy you’ve ever had to the point you want to give up, but considering Millennials are beginning to influence how their parents think, you’ll have to learn to adjust for the future of advertising and marketing.
Why Should You Adjust your Marketing Strategy for Millennials?
One, they are all different. Two, Millennials make up the majority of active consumers right now and are influencing the older generations. And since this massive, diverse group of Millennials are buying differently than previous generations, you should be selling to them differently rather than continue with the marketing strategy that worked for the Baby Boomers. There are three main differences between Millennials and previous generations to keep in mind while creating a marketing strategy for them: they are highly connected with social media/technology, value authenticity, and are affected by brands on a personal level. How can you accommodate those differences? By staying connected online, being authentic with your ads, and personalizing your brand to show them you care.
Millennials are different from previous generations in that 67 percent of them reported they use smartphones to access the Internet compared to the 40 percent of baby boomers who use their smartphones. More often than not, Millennials stay connected in some way to technology. Most would feel weird if they went just one day apart from social media. Because they are always connected, that means you have to be too. Advertising on social media is an obvious must-have for your business because that’s where your audience is going to see you. It also opens up the availability for communication beyond normal business hours. If one of these Millennials has a question about your product, they can ask you directly on Facebook or Twitter. Your goal is to keep them from waiting because they are used to an on-demand society. If they have to wait, they’ll move on to someone else that can deliver quickly.
Aside from advertising with technology, you should also consider how to incorporate technology in their shopping experience. Millennial consumers are preferring online shopping to going to an actual store. And when they do shop in-store, they typically use apps as available to enhance their shopping experience. Considering Millennials are always connected and moving fast, online and offline strategies have to be merged into one to be effective.
If you do nothing else to cater towards Millennials, at least do this one thing: be authentic. If there’s one thing they hate, it’s fake advertising. Don’t hassle them with all the benefits your product or service has to offer. Just give them the facts and let them decide for themselves to make the purchase. They value authenticity and are more likely to convert from word-of-mouth than they would any clever ad you can come up with. They see through the strategy and end up feeling manipulated. Do your business a favor and be honest with your audience. Let them see what your customers think of you, not what the “experts” say. And not just the positive comments either. They’ll trust you more if they see a few negative responses as well.
One way to increase your authenticity: ask your customers to make brand referrals. They can end up becoming powerful advocates for your business. When making a purchase, Millennials are most likely to consult user-generated content/reviews when choosing electronics, hotels, cars, air travel, and insurance. Having been born with technology at their fingertips, they know how to do their research. They aren’t researching your ads or what you have to say about yourself; instead, they’ll research what others have to say about you and make their decision from there.
Personalize Your Brand
One myth going around about Millennials is that they aren’t brand loyal. To go against that statement, think of all the Millennials who are drinking Starbucks and texting on their iPhones. They buy those brands because those brands stand for something. Whether that be social standing or something else, the brands Millennials choose are chosen to make a personal statement about themselves. Buying from one brand can be an identifier to represent where they fit in. Some Millennials might actually refrain from buying an iPhone simply to stand out. they don’t do it specifically because everyone else is doing it. So what does your brand stand for? Is it something Millennials can rally under?
If your brand doesn’t have this sort of personality, that’s where the myth comes into play and you have to work to keep Millennials loyal to you. Remember, they are in a lot of debt and are budget-conscious. The easiest way to make them loyal is by offering loyalty cards and rewards. Give them a financial or prize benefit to choose you over another brand. Eventually, you’ll end up building enough trust that they’ll naturally pick you as their first choice.
What Do All These Differences Mean for your Marketing Strategy?
Ultimately, Millennials just want to be seen as a person and not as a wallet. Forget your pushy ads and instead, focus on the customer experience. Focus on customer-generated content and create discussions on social media to let your customers do the talking. Millennials aren’t impossible to understand. They’re just different. Considering technology is only progressing, and the Millennial mindset with it, learn to market towards their way of thinking, and you’ll find yourself well-prepared for the future of marketing.