Why should you market to Millennials?
If you are asking yoursef why should I care about the Millennial generation and why should I consider spending my marketing dollars, time and effort targeting Millennials.
I have the answers for you….
The millennial generation represents the largest generation consisting of approximately 80 million people with over $170 billion in purchasing power.
The millennial generation with its large influence is shaping the way that brands send messages, forcing businesses to change or suffer the consequences.
Millennials marketing and an understanding of how to reach the millennial generation is critical and will enhance your organization’s brand and integrated marketing communications strategies. Implementing these millennial elements will help your organization reach its business and marketing objectives.
Let’s start out by giving the definition. The Millennial Generation is typically defined as individuals born between 1980 and 2000. According to the U.S. Censur Burean, as of April 2015, Millennials now number 92 million or 20% of the total U.S. population, and are now the largest generation, even bigger than Baby Boomers.
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A comprehensive understanding of millennial characteristics is critical in creating an integrated marketing communications (IMC) plan.
There are concepts, values, and characteristics unique to all millennials that include:
- The use of a variety of media
- They view brands as a partnership and form of self-expression
- More technologically advanced than previous generations
- More educated than previous generations
- The most racially and ethnically diverse
- Encumbered with student loan debt, which continues to grow each year
- Have different priorities like putting off marriage, buying a house or automobile
Millennials also take action on behalf of brands based on loyalty and give significant brand loyalty to brands and products of preference. In addition, the millennial generation likes music and events and requires authenticity, two-way communication, social responsibility, and connection with a personal touch.
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Other important concepts of millennials marketing involve the millennial generation’s value systems that include altruism and a predisposition to support social and environmental causes they care about. As a result, millennials purchase and support companies with environmentally and socially responsible products (brands).
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Millennials Marketing Strategy and Tactics
A two-pronged generic millennial strategy and a subculture marketing strategy are critical to an organization seeking to achieve its objectives. Using a homogeneous millennial culture and subculture marketing strategy based on addressing the different ethnic subcultures provide a method to reach the target audience effectively.
The combination of the two marketing strategies will be used in the areas including logo design usage (affect), events, social and digital media, television, radio, and sponsorship (cognition).
The other elements included in marketing to millennials should also consider product or service content options and pricing (environment).
A combination of promotional strategies is required when marketing to millennials. Think in terms of the sum of the parts when influencing the millennial.
The marketing mix (product, place, promotion, and price) also heavily influences the millennial consumer stimulating trial and creating brand loyalty based on leveraging the brand assets.
Marketers are challenged with addressing two diametrically opposite considerations to reach millennials effectively. On one hand, millennials communicate asynchronously (i.e., via text). Conversely, the millennial market segment wants face-to-face interactions and a personal touch.
The key takeaway is for marketers to address the millennial generation using an IMC approach.
Market Research Drives Strategy and Tactics
Market research was the most important step in the approach used by Mercedes-Benz and Amazon. The essential driving force behind the development and launch of the CLA from Mercedes-Benz and the Fire TV from Amazon is market research.
Market research was the basis that determined product development and the corresponding marketing strategy and tactics resulting in both organizations reaching and exceeding organizational objectives.
The list included is not an exhaustive list of marketing elements used in strategy and tactical development, but a representation of the most important and how they fit together to address a diverse generation. The elements listed provide an organization with a framework from an IMC perspective to take into consideration when forming strategies and tactics to reach the millennial consumer.
IMC messaging strategies with a millennial target audience must use a dual approach. The IMC strategy must incorporate event or experiential marketing offering a personal one-to-one relationship required by the millennial generation based on the statistic that 78% of millennials prefer a brand experience that is relevant and gives them information.
An example of a relevant and simple marketing tactic to reach this audience is Federal Express providing South by Southwest festival attendees charging stations to charge mobile devices. The charging station example demonstrates a marketing tactic that builds an emotional connection with a brand, especially with the millennial generation that does not like to be without the use of its mobile devices.
Digital and Social Media
Another critical element in an IMC strategy focused on millennials requires a company to use Internet marketing and social media which is in stark contrast to the face-to-face interaction desired by this generation. Event marketing provides the ability to begin a conversation with the millennial consumer supported by the internet and social media.
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The internet and social media allow a company to continue to engage this generation to gain brand awareness, stimulate trial usage, repeat usage, and ultimately loyalty. The social media channel must consider the product or service offered by the company and target where this generation spends most of its social media time (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat).
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For example, using Facebook and Twitter to engage craft beer consumers would be a good social media choice and LinkedIn would be a poor media choice. Training consulting services or customer relationship software provides examples of a product and service that offer a better fit with LinkedIn’s target audience and purpose.
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Millennials are early adopters of different social media channels, and marketers must keep track of the social media consumption patterns and trends adapting marketing tactics to reach this generation.
Millennials Seek Lower Prices, Loyalty and Reward Programs and Discounting and less on product quality
Millennials are forcing brands to become more participative by subtly engaging by offering discounted prices and loyalty and reward programs while relying less on product quality. 77% of the millennial generation reported participating in loyalty and reward Programs
Millennials thrive online, researching product choices online, then placing orders online.
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In addition, 78% of millennials reported to being more likely to buy from a brand with a rewards program than one without.
Millennials have the highest percentage of word-of-mouth marketing, electing to share feedback about a product or service both on-line and off-line. The implications of these millennial statistics support the social media tactic of engaging using online channels to support the event marketing high-touch required by this generation.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
A critical statistic for marketers is the fact 75% of millennials donate to charity and 60% volunteer for a worthy cause.
The millennial generation coming of age is one of the most important components influencing marketing and the messages brands send. The millennial generation with its demonstration of purchasing power and brand support for companies that are environmentally conscious has caused a seismic shift in business.
Here is a quote from Simon Sinek that provides a paradigm shift for marketers and how they communicate:
“PEOPLE DON’T BUY WHAT YOU DO, THEY BUY WHY YOU DO IT.” – SIMON SINEK
Companies must infuse environmentally responsible practices into the core of their business strategy using an IMC approach. As a result, marketing strategy provides a core element in business strategy to promote a company as an ethical entity with genuine concern for social issues and the environment. Marketers must create authentic messages that can be supported with actions regarding the environment and social issues or risk suffering the consequences of the millennial consumer.
CSR Examples from the Automotive Industry
Companies such as General Motors and Ford have had to change significantly over the last six years. It is not enough to provide vehicles that are environmentally conscious, but the millennial generation demands a more significant effort from a brand. GM and Ford have implemented programs across their entire supply chain supporting environmental and social initiatives. GM and Ford now use a sustainability report a common marketing tool in business to provide information regarding the environmental and social practices of the company.
The sustainability report used by many companies across all industries provides evidence of the changing nature of business and marketing influenced by the millennial generation. However, if companies do not provide the millennial generation with authentic evidence of support for the environment, they could face significant brand and company damage.
The key takeaway is to include corporate social responsibility into your business and marketing strategy in an authentic manner.
Benchmarks for Millennial Marketing
There are a few companies out there that I think are really getting it right and setting the bar for marketing. The companies that are in the best position to take advantage of the largest generation include:
- TOMS donate a pair of shoes to someone for every pair of shoes sold. Giving and aligning the millennial generation with a cause allowing them to participate in the story. Blake Mycoskie, the founder, has found a way for philanthropy and profit to coexist in perfect harmony.
- Netflix continuously keeps pulse with the millennial generation exceptionally well and uses social media with shareable content to attract and engage.
- Uber with its unique app focused on convenience and the needs and wants of the millennial generation. Uber provided a disruptive business model that simply works with marketing campaigns focused on the millennials and shareable social media content.
- Dollar Shave Club has disrupted the personal grooming market with a business model that is uniquely suited to millennials. The two critical things marketers can takeaway from Dollar Shave Club is their unique, disruptive pricing model and creative marketing. Dollar Shave uses multiple media specifically targeting millennials with relevant, shareable, and entertaining content.
The focus of this post is dedicated to targeting millennials using an integrated marketing communications (IMC) framework. In other posts, I discuss brand building that must take place before developing the IMC plan.
The millennial generation is an important generation for marketers to target for almost every industry. Forming strategies and tactics to reach the millennial consumer based on solid market research provides the best opportunity to target them effectively and achieve success.
Omnichannel Experiences: Creating Online And In-Store Moments That Matter To Millennials
Mobile marketers, take note: Millennials already live in an omnichannel shopping mindset. In fact, they were living in this mindset years before most businesses realized they needed to adjust operating models accordingly. These young shoppers carry with them the central expectation that a spectrum of seamless and consistent online and offline engagements will be the norm across their shopping journey.
The goal of omnichannel marketing is not to create multiple experiences across multiple channels — that’s multichannel marketing — it is to build a unified brand-to-consumer interaction across all channels. Omnichannel experiences are not simply coordinated, and not simply integrated, they become continuous. A consumer can begin an experience in one channel and complete that interaction somewhere else. And, with the Millennial demographic set to spend some $200 billion in coming years, theimperative for brick-and-mortar to focus on omnichannel to reach them is more critical than ever.
Success begins — and begins only, as there are many ways to inspire Millennials in the omnichannel space — with close attention to social-media interactions, live support, and real-time surprise and delight.
- The Social Experience: Based on our recent research, more than 1 in 4 young consumers, aged 14 - 29 (including both Millennials and Gen Z), said they use a mobile phone while browsing in a physical store, seeking guidance, input, and validation from friends and family on their screens. Engaging organically with Millennials as they share these experiences requires nuance and a sense for strategic delicacy, adapting to the distinctive “dialect” of each platform in positive and relevant ways. Taco Bell has earned notice by using Snapchat, for example, challenging young consumers to “Doodle Wars” that can be shared and saved for later, piping more attention to the brand-related drawings via Twitter, and all the while steering diners toward fresh brand-focused engagements.
- Mobile-to-Live Support: Some 60% of Millennials recently told Radial that they want online chat and communications as part of their in-store shopping segment. A key opportunity for brick-and-mortar, then, is to seamlessly match a conversation that starts on mobile to a moment when an expert in-store representative can pick it up, further prompting the anticipatory inspiration that Millennials say they crave. The hospitality industry has become a superb example of this kind of handoff, with staff having all the immediately preceding information available on desktop and/or mobile device at the moment of the switch.
- In-the-Moment Inspiration: Brands that commit to omnichannel experiences can plug into Millennials’ openness to new ideas in the moment — specifically the kind that arise during otherwise-occupied segments of their shopping journey. Advertisers can prompt or seal the deal around restaurant visits, for example, giving users a chance to skip a seating line by donating to a social cause on their smartphone. This aligns with Millennials’ affinity for purchases that leverage philanthropic outcomes — 70% of them will spend more on brands supporting what they perceive to be worthy causes. It’s an omnichannel solution with in-the-moment meaning, driving sales and loyalty.
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In an omnichannel world, opportunities are free to emerge in seamless and consistent ways at any time, in any space … if these moments match the expectations and values of the Millennial consumer. Each of the above approaches fosters increasingly meaningful moments and, when it comes to Millennials, each instance represents a prime way to tap into the generation’s spending power as it reaches its peak.