Every generation brings a new set of challenges for marketers. As technologies evolve, culture changes and demographics shift, marketers must rethink their strategies in order to remain relevant. Today millennials are the rising generation.
Defined as those born between the late 1980s and the early 2000s, American millennials are projected to have $1.4 trillion in purchasing power by the year 2020, and are thus rapidly redefining the modern economy. No business can survive without marketing to millennials, yet many do not know how to appeal to them. By paying close attention to their values, habits, and characteristics, marketers can create content that leaves millennials engaged and eager to try the product.
Millennial Demographic Details
To develop a millennial marketing strategy, you must first understand who millennials are. A demographic profile of this generation reveals:
- Growing Diversity: 21% of adult millennials are Hispanic or Latino, 13% are black, 6% are Asian and 57% are non-Hispanic whites. By comparison, non-Hispanic whites make up 61% of generation X members (between ages 34 and 49) and 72% of baby boomers (ages 50 to 68).
- Expanding Education: Millennials are quickly becoming the most-educated generation. In fact, 64% of adult female millennials have at least some college education, compared to 55% of generation X and 36% of baby boomers when they were the same age. Likewise, 55% of male millennials have some college education, compared to 49% of generation X and 41% of baby boomers at the same age.
- Staying Single: 68% of millennials have never been married, far more than the number of generation X and baby boomers at the same age. This suggests that millennials are less interested in marriage and other traditional values compared to their forebears.
- Changing Religious Values: Millennials are less likely to consider themselves religious, attend regular religious services or believe in God.
- Further Facts: Millennials are more likely to live in cities or metropolitan areas, less likely to have served in the military and have less work experience compared to previous generations.
These demographic facts provide immediate insight into marketing to millennials. Products that facilitate single life, city living and success in college are all likely to appeal to this generation. Millennials will also respond better to content that depicts people of different backgrounds, ethnicities and experiences, reflecting the generation’s diversity.
They are less likely to respond to promotions that include religious themes or appeal to married couples. Marketing to millennials is thus in large part a matter of finding out who they are.
Making Use Of Media
Beyond getting a general picture of millennials, it’s important to know specifically how they respond to different types of content. For them, the vast majority of content is digital. Millennials are the first generation to have grown up with the internet, which they rely on for most of their news and information.
A recent study by Experian found that the average millennial spends 67 hours a week on their phones, computers and other devices. Marketers have the best chance of reaching this generation through online and mobile advertising. Not all content is created equal, however, millennials are more likely to respond to promotions that use:
- Native Content: Nearly 84% of millennials do not trust ordinary advertising. Instead, they prefer articles, videos and other content that does not appear to be promotional. The better you are at hiding your brand within a story or work of art, the easier it will be to win over customers.
- Multiple Devices: Millennials want content they can view across a variety of devices. Companies must create promotions that work on desktop, tablets and smartphones.
- Quick Conclusions: 54% of millennials are more likely to share branded content if it is brief. Marketers must find ways to get their message across as quickly and effectively as possible.
- Humor: 51% of millennials say they will share content they find funny, giving marketers insight into how to hold their attention.
- Reciprocity: When asked if they would share personal information with a company, 46% of millennials said that they would if it guaranteed personalized content.
The most effective millennial marketing strategies use marketing content to enhance consumers’ other experiences. Millennials who play freemium games, for example, might be willing to watch a promotional video if doing so will pay for some enhancement in the game. Content of this sort is an asset to, rather than a distraction from, the rest of life.
The Power Of Peers
To say millennials use the internet more than previous generations is not to imply they interact with their peers any less often. On the contrary social media is a powerful tool for interactions, allowing millennials to communicate with each other in real time no matter where they are.
These online interactions affect their shopping habits. Millennials are more likely to purchase a product if a close friend, family member or other peer that they trust has recommended it. If this person recommends the product on social media, there is no limit to the number of new customers they might bring in.
Building Your Influencers
One way to take advantage of peer recommendations is to find an influential social media user to promote your brand. Influential millennials have used YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, WordPress and other online media to amass thousands or even millions of followers. The followers come to rely on their content for information about the world.
By sponsoring the content of an influential social media user, you can quickly reach thousands of millennials, many of whom will buy the product solely based on that user’s recommendation.
Focusing on Employee Advocacy
Millennials aren’t just consumers–they’re a part of your workforce and provide easy access to committed customers. By sharing your company content on social media, millennial employees will instantly arouse interest among friends and family members, many of whom may become customers.
These customers are especially valuable because they have a direct link to your company and will thus be more likely to come back. Millennial advocates can also invite their friends to company outreach events, starting a chain of interest that eventually brings in thousands of participants.
Using Community Events
Besides large-scale campaigns, social media can also embellish marketing campaigns on the community level. Say a sports drink company holds an event on a college campus where it gives out free bottles of its drink. The company can set up a photo background next to the drinks, encouraging students who try one to take pictures of themselves with it.
Students will then post those pictures on social media, alerting others to the opportunity. Campaigns of this sort connect to millennial consumers on an intimate level, encouraging them to think of the product as part of a community experience. Similar campaigns will work at malls, community centers, sporting facilities and anywhere else where large numbers of millennials meet and socialize.
Winning over millennial consumers is not just a matter of convincing them to buy from your company. It’s also about creating the kind of company that the new generation will want to buy from. According to a global study by Deloitte, 47% of millenials believe that the purpose of business is to improve society or protect the environment, but only 38% believe that current businesses are actually doing that.
Companies that demonstrate themselves to be socially responsible thus have enormous potential to win over millenial customers. The issues that millenials feel strongly about include:
- Employee Satisfaction: Millennials believe companies have a responsibility to treat their employees well. Companies must work to pay their employees well, provide reasonable conditions and promote safety. They must also encourage satisfied employees to share their stories.
- Financial Stability: Having grown up in the Great Recession, millennials are wary of firms with dubious financial histories. To appeal to them, a company must create wealth in a transparent and consistent manner.
- Innovation: The rising generation values creative companies who develop new kinds of products and services.
- Purpose: Millennials gravitate toward companies that have a meaningful vision for themselves and society.
Millennials are conscious consumers, believing that their purchases should reflect their values. The most successful companies will be those that respect those values, providing millennials with products they are proud to buy.
Other Tips For Marketing To Millennials
In addition to values, peers, and social media, marketers must study millennials’:
- Shopping Locations: 84% of millennials prefer shopping in physical stores. Companies must provide them with information on store locations, hours and other details.
- Agency: Millennials want companies to give them a say in product decisions through public surveys, product reviews and other input tools.
- Time & Effort: The brands that have been most successful with millennials are those that reduce the time and effort it takes to do ordinary tasks.
- Penchant For Us: Millennials prefer to use or share an item than to buy it permanently. Companies must focus on selling access to, rather than ownership over, their wares.
With a population of over 68 million, millennials will play a central role in the market for decades to come. Bambu is committed to understanding their values, habits and preferred forms of content. Request a demo with us today!
Kevin King is the Marketing Lead for Bambu by Sprout Social and film lover turned SEO geek. When he isn’t poring over massive Excel files, he can be found enjoying live music, superhero movies and select craft beers.
Millennial Marketing Strategy: How to Appeal to the Rising Generation
Written by Kevin King on January 17, 2017