Millennial marketingLove them or loathe them, millennials are inheriting the earth. They’ve been branded as lazy narcissists who overshare and are addicted to their phones. They’re too selfish and self-absorbed to be aware of what’s around them – so just how do you get them to pay attention to your product?

Millennials – or Generation Y – are expected to make up 40% of the workforce by 2020 and in 2013 they accounted for more than 20% of the US’s total consumer spending. As careers progress and salaries rise, these figures are forecasted to skyrocket – making millennials the ones to watch out for when it comes to expanding your business.

They are a diverse group. Spanning over a two decade period, the interests, income levels and needs of each individual exist on a wide spectrum. Luckily, while they hate to be generalised about, there are particular consumer behaviours and attitudes that brands can employ to make the most of this ever growing market.

These similarities are not exclusively due to their maturing in similar socioeconomic and political conditions, but because of globalisation, the homogeny and expansion of western culture and the power of social media. There has never been a generation more connected. Rather than penalising or dismissing them for utilising the technology available to them, brands should engage with this emerging demographic and tap into their potential.

Make it personal

Millennials value their individuality and with unlimited products and services available to them at the swipe of a finger, they want more than just one-size-fits-all. From packaging to programming, allowing millennials to customise and leave their mark on a product – making it truly ‘theirs’ – is crucial for creating long term relationships and brand ambassadors.

In addition to customisable features, millennials love to collaborate and communicate. Growing up with social media has created a sense of interconnectedness that businesses can harness and use to receive feedback and improve the customer’s overall experience. Anyone who has ever frequented the comment section on Facebook or remember the recent disaster of Boaty McBoatface may be a little dubious, but Gen Y love to share and express themselves, so it is best to get them involved. Offer them more than just hard selling – use hashtags, share inspirational pictures and create meaningful, genuine content. Millennials like their brands to be human.

Have a conscience

Forbes and Elite Daily found that 75% of millennials not only believe that brands should give back to the community, but that their ethical conduct and perceived transparency had a direct impact on whether they commit to buy or not. The success of large companies like Lush or Pret a Manger can be largely attributed to their public promotion of sustainability and the fair treatment of their employees at every level of production.

The explosion and subsequent success of eco-friendly, independent and fair trade brands reflects the concerns of millennial buyers and also demonstrates the importance of brands existing in relation to and in harmony with the community around them. Millennials also favour brands who align themselves with causes and charities. This is not to say that every brand has to march with every passing protest, but to put it simply: millennials don’t just want to know that they won’t be exploited, they want to know that others will not be as well.

Be intelligent with marketing

On average, we are exposed to over 5,000 advertisements and brands every day, and millennials are among the best of us when it comes to ignoring them. Cutting through this digital noise requires intelligent strategies and originality. Standing out is not about who can shout the loudest, but rather who can generate original, engaging and above all interesting content. Sure, recent studies may have shown that our attention spans are getting ever shorter, but that just means brands need to try even harder.

Studies have also shown that 43% of millennials value authenticity over content and need to trust the company or news site before they will even contemplate reading it. Millennials want to know the face behind the logo and moreover, they do their research. Reading articles, blogs and reviews are now a staple part of the pre-purchase process and so building a transparent and trustworthy corporate image is now more essential than ever.

Competition may be tough in this marketing arms race, but millennials actively seek out brand interaction in a way not previously seen. Almost two-thirds (62%) report that if a brand engages with them on social networks they are more likely to become a loyal customer. The successful social media campaigns of big brands like Innocent Smoothies and Oreos illustrate the millennials’ desire to be a part of the action or in on the joke. Ultimately, they want an experience. Utilise the social media platforms available and reach out to them; I promise they won’t bite.

There aren’t many rules when it comes to marketing to millennials, but just remember to be genuine, be witty (when possible) but most importantly: be different, be you.

Ben Hollom

May 10, 2016