Right now, there are 4+ generations in the workforce (read: buying power) which affects businesses and the way they communicate. Why? Because not all generations are created equal and we all have different needs and ways we prefer to be engaged. And now, with anywhere from 70 to 90% of the buyer’s journey complete even before your customers engage with you, it’s critical to understand what they want, how they want it and where they’ll find it (because it won’t always be by picking up the phone and calling you).
For the purposes of this post, I’m assuming that Millennials span the birth years of 1981 and 1996 (roughly between the ages of 22 and 37 years old). I realize that there are “cusps” and overlap, but in general, these are the average ages of this generation.
Earlier in the year, as part of my marketing predictions for 2019, I recommended a shift in focus to Millennials and Gen Z. Or rather, I recommended that brands should shift their focus to Millennials and Gen Z. They are our changemakers. Our consumers. Our future (and current!) managers and decision-makers.
Soon, Millennials will be the largest living adult generation (and they already are the largest generation in the workforce). All of them are of working age, are less likely to have mortgages and have more disposable income that companies realize. In fact, they have the largest spending power of any generation ($200 billion in the U.S., to be exact).
So why aren’t brands taking them more seriously?
Figuring out the Millennial market should coincide with persona development and target audience planning. And in order to do that, companies must shift their mindset on what they think about this generation to what we know holds true from market research and buying habits.
Characteristics to note when marketing to Millennials (also known as Gen Y):
- Millennials will often pay more for brands that support green initiatives or have local roots.
- Gen Y craves authenticity (as most generations do as we’ve immersed ourselves into digital messaging); if you want to gain their trust, be authentic.
- This generation always has a mobile device on them; reach them by ensuring that content you put out is optimized for mobile.
- Millennials are most inspired to give through social media (39%) with email coming in second (23%). This is important to note for brands boasting philanthropy and for nonprofits alike.
How to integrate Millennial characteristics into your marketing strategy
1. Create a strong digital presence
It’s important to meet Millennials where they live and that means online. Get to know the channels that are most effective to sharing your messaging. This generation has no problem talking about you online—good, bad or otherwise. Millennials can end up being some of your best brand ambassadors by facilitating conversations about you online through pictures, opinion blog posts, videos and more. Don’t discount their tech-savvy ways.
2. Focus on authenticity and relationships
To piggy-back on the above, if you are going to create online content, also be sure that you are there to monitor and have conversations. Providing real-time responses and engaging in conversation is something Gen Y looks for from brands. That, and stop trying to “sell” them things. They can smell sales tactics a mile away. Instead, think education, thought leadership, providing information. Tell them why it makes sense for them to care about your product in a way that resonates to them.
3. Appeal to their values
Not only should you be answering the proverbial question, “What’s in it for me?” but you need to showcase how your product, service and company supports this generations’ key values. Do you give back a portion of your proceeds to a charitable cause? Are your products made with recycled materials? Does your CEO provide mentorship to others in the industry? Highlight these as a way to connect with this generation.
4. Use word of mouth
Think about it: With a generation that lives on social media (and has been often called the “selfie generation”) word of mouth works because they’re having conversations with one another and spreading their thoughts, feedback and reviews with their colleagues and peers. You may even want to consider tapping into social media influencers that appeal to this generation.
Embracing the communication styles of Millennials just may support brand grow in a way you’ve never seen when other generations were the only ones in the picture.
What tactics will you use to engage Millennials in your marketing this year? I’d love to hear your thoughts in our blog comment area, below.