It´s unclear where the dates for the millennial generation start and end. What´s not indistinct, however, is how important this group – open-endedly said to be 18- to 34-year-olds – is to brands. They are the only generation that has grown up with digital technology rather than adapted to it, which means they are ready and waiting in front of their device for brand exposure.
This group´s significance is underlined by the growing number of advertising conferences dedicated to the “selfie generation”, as marketing departments seek ways in which they can tap into their psyche.
“Millennials can make or break brands with just a few keystrokes,” said Joe Gutierrez, managing director and head of strategic planning at cross-cultural marketing firm Pinta in a recent Advertising Week panel.
However, as an article on the Digiday website says, don´t be fooled into thinking millennials can all be categorised under one umbrella. They are particularly diverse ethnically: 43% of millennial adults are non-white, the highest share of any generation. The importance of micro-targeting within the group shouldn´t be underestimated either, and one expert has divided them into 12 categories. ´Millennial mums´, for example, represent 46% of the total women in their age group; they are the most active on social networks, and have the highest spending power.
The piece also highlights some other factors to bear in mind when trying to attune to millennials´ way of thinking:
1) They value authenticity
Nobody likes a phony or a brand that´s trying too hard – especially millennials. Brands should adopt some self-awareness, and get involved with customers when the time is right instead of forcing the issue.
2) They like to feel in the loop
Millennials like to be involved, rather than just mere spectators, but it all comes down to diligence. Event marketing, for example, helps validate a millennial´s interest in a brand and such engagement can mean repeat business for the brand.
3) They appreciate brands with a conscience
Digiday also pulls out a recent global report by Noise|The Intelligence Group, which reveals how millennials from ten different countries are three times as likely to wear socially conscious brands over luxury brands. And more than 50% say it´s important that brands are transparent about their business practices. The research suggests that authenticity encompasses being ethical in a millennial´s mind, but brands need to ensure it doesn´t come across as forced.
4) They respect and respond to social influencers
Finally, the publication says social influencers are to millennials what thought leaders are to journalists. The case for an organisation is so much more powerful if it comes from a respected figure, Digiday says, suggesting that brands should look to get on the right side of these stars of social media.
So, Generation Y are a pretty complex lot. Whilst this makes marketing to them a bit more testing, it allows brands greater scope for creativity.
When I read the four key points above, it struck me that content marketing would tick many of these boxes. Content allows you to have regular engagement and interaction with your audience, but in a more natural, less forced way. Rather than just pushing sales messages at them via traditional advertising campaigns, content can be used to build a longer term, mutually beneficial relationship.
It´s easier to talk about what your brand really stands for and what you believe in while sharing information that´s genuinely valued by the audience.
Have you got any advice for those brands looking to take on the challenge of marketing to millennials? Or perhaps you could share some examples of companies that you believe have got their approach spot on?Ben Hollom
October 13, 2014