Amid several generational stereotypes, millennials have gotten a pretty bad reputation. However, research has shown that they are often more hard-working, disciplined, and ethically minded than previous and current generations. As they enter their 30s and 40s, they have not reached their full buying potential like GenXers or Boomers. Nevertheless, that does not mean that they should not be considered by companies and brands when promoting and marketing their products or services. As the largest living generation, this is a demographic worth winning over to your brand.
This article will look at who millennials are, how companies should market to millennials, and successful millennial marketing examples.
Who are millennials?
Millennials are the next generation after GenXers and baby boomers. This generation is so economically lucrative that brands are abandoning traditional marketing strategies to reach them. Millennials make up just 25% of the population today, but they have already exceeded the baby boomers.
To understand how to market to them, companies need to realize that they are crucial because of their collective size as a global cohort and the resulting influence on society, culture, and business. Because of their shift to more transparent brands, companies need to create authentic content that will draw them in.
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How to market to millennials
1) Create authentic content
Millennials spend a lot of time online or using apps, and they are constantly looking for engaging content. Since they are looking through websites, blogs, and social media platforms for information, the type of content that resonates with them more is that which they feel is authentic. Rather than celebrity endorsements, they tend to trust relevant, genuine opinions from real people who they can relate to. Trust translates to sales, and they do not simply trust traditional outbound marketing.
To create authentic content, companies need to create content that is engaging, informative, and entertaining. This content should introduce them to the brand or product with a high level of transparency. In addition, companies should also highlight their ethics and environmental values. After all, millennials are the generation that started focusing on more ethics than other generations. In fact, many brands have become more vocal about their stances on the environment and social responsibility to boost engagement and brand loyalty among millennials.
2) Ditch outbound marketing methods
In the past, outbound marketing methods like magazine ads, direct mail campaigns, and traditional media could get the word out there about your brand. However, millennials are far less impressed by those marketing methods because they want to feel connected with a brand before they make the decision to purchase from them. As far as millennials are concerned, traditional marketing campaigns are considered impersonal and without real substance.
While traditional ads still have a purpose, millennials build brand loyalty when they can access authentic content and connect with the real faces behind the brand.
To successfully market to millennials, brands need to create content like e-books, whitepapers, blog posts, videos, and share information dedicated to improving their customers’ lives.
3) Cultivate relationships
We can’t say this enough – millennials’ values and life goals are dramatically different from those of previous generations. Rather than focusing on material possessions and status, they tend to prioritize happiness and life experience. By considering their impact and making them feel heard, companies can form relationships to highlight their expertise and earn trust from this demographic along the way.
Millennials are inherently distrustful, especially of large corporations. Companies need to open the door and build positive relationships with them to get in touch with them. In order to do that, they need to show them exactly what the brand is about, explain how the company takes care of their employees and their community, and encourage their success.
Only about 29% of millennials establish brand loyalty. For this reason, brands that care about retaining these millennial customers are always innovating. For brands that want to reach millennials successfully, they need to speak their language and create content that these people would proudly share with others, resulting in a real brand-consumer relationship.
4) Use social media & e-commerce
Millennials are not shy about using technology and social media platforms to voice their opinions about products and services. They absorb and interact with information differently on various platforms, which means companies need to figure out how to start the conversation about their brand through social channels.
Influencer marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways companies can reach new millennial customers who are eager to buy products. Millennials give influencer recommendations a lot of weight, so brands that collaborate with influencers see a lot of success with this demographic. By focusing their marketing efforts on reaching millennials via social platforms and optimizing their content, companies can drive significant traffic back to their owned media.
Additionally, mobile marketing has become an important strategy considering that 85% of millennials own smartphones and other devices. 46% of these influencers use those devices to compare prices, read reviews, and shop online. This means that a company’s e-commerce site should be mobile-optimized, with an easy user experience to ensure an optimal mobile experience. Optimizing the company website for mobile is critical if companies want to succeed in the millennial market. It is essential to recognize that millennials value their time and expect convenience. They don’t like having to wait for long load times or fumble their way through lousy navigation. In fact, they will leave quickly if your site is not mobile-optimized, user-friendly, and easy to navigate.
5) Be open to collaboration
Millennials today want to be involved in the product development process. In reality, 42% expressed an interest in assisting businesses with developing potential goods and services. Companies in this day and age typically produce goods in the hopes that their target market will buy them. However, millennials want a say in how goods are created. For this reason, companies that enable them to be a part of the product development process are likely to be more successful.
Word-of-mouth and referral marketing are low-cost, reliable, and dependable. When we have a positive experience with a brand, product, or service, we are eager to tell others about it. Referrals turn satisfied customers into loyal brand ambassadors. Since they are happy with their product and the customer service, they will talk about it with friends and family, and a company’s return on investment will be high. Referrals are just one tactic; companies can also build brand loyalty by creating loyalty programs.
The benefits of these programs include; customer retention, access to relevant customer data and consumer trends, higher cart value, reduction of unprofitable customers, and better customer communication. Millennials appreciate being rewarded for their repeat purchases, which means they will most likely stay loyal to a brand.
Since data from loyalty programs provides a comprehensive picture of consumer behaviour, purchasing patterns, and expectations, this data can be used to improve inventory management, pricing, and promotional planning. Marketers may also use this information to assess the success of special promotions based on increased sales, the use of new outlets, or a shorter period between purchases. Finally, loyalty programs give companies a direct line to their customers, making it easier to communicate with them.
6) Push the convenient and practical side
Rather than having brand-name products, millennials prefer to use over ownership, which means that they are now looking for other ways to obtain an item rather than just buying it. This is the generation that has embraced the “sharing economy,” which consists of peer-to-peer platforms that provide access to shared goods and services. As mentioned previously, the millennial generation tends to value experiences over material goods, which is a characteristic reflected by using technology and their devices to share their adventures and gatherings on social media platforms. This cultural shift means that companies and marketers need to find ways to plug into the sharing economy and make their products and services more appealing to this current way of life.
7) Lean into the shopping experience rather than the product
Browsing and doing research for a product is becoming more appealing to young consumers than the purchase itself. Millennials are more interested in the experience of shopping than in making a purchase. In other words, online shopping is becoming more than just a means to an end for many young shoppers. These people also see it as a source of entertainment. Successful companies understand that millennials want to have a more enjoyable online browsing experience, so they create more engaging content to appeal to these shoppers.
Examples of successful millennial marketing
As we have seen, millennials want to “live the story,” and TOMS has done a great job helping them to do that. Since its inception, the company has created a culture where philanthropy and profit co-exist and encouraged customer interaction. The company allows customers to share stories, experiences, and photos to raise awareness and align themselves with a brand that has a cause. They have had many successful campaigns, but of note is their One for One movement.
The campaign was successful with millennials because it:
- Provided an individualized toolkit for participation
- Encouraged millennials to share their stories and engage in open dialogues about the cause rather than the product
- Invited millennials to be part of the cause and didn’t just ask for monetary donations.
- Had an immediate effect. Directly after a customer purchases TOMS shoes or eyewear, the organization sends the information to their long-term Giving Partners to determine the size and quantity of shoes and eyeglasses to be shipped overseas.
- Effectively used the KIS technique. By focusing only on products like shoes and eyewear. TOMS is “keeping it simple” and did not complicate the buying process.
- Adapted well to a millennial lifestyle by having shoes and eyewear that are stylish and trendy.
Carlsberg’s continued success comes from the brand’s ability to be relatable. While millennials were born as part of the same generation, they all have wildly different experiences, perspectives, and opinions. Carlsberg is one of those brands that have been able to identify with their audience while also moving away from certain stereotypes. Using humour at the core of all its advertising, the brand has found success through reactive content.
One of their best marketing campaigns was their “Probably Not” campaign. The campaign was designed to be an inversion of its “Probably the best beer in the world” tagline. By admitting that the brand has previously chased volume rather than quality, the campaign served as a declaration that Carlsberg had lost its way. This confession from the brand highlighted the vitality of being honest with consumers. While they were nervous about launching the campaign. However, it proved a success with a spike in sales, which led them to win “Best Marketing Campaign of 2019” by Marketing Week.
Chipotle is a perfect example of successful millennial marketing. The brand is known for placing a high value on fresh ingredients and offering an interactive experience. The ingredients and experience appeal to millennials, who appreciate the authenticity and uniqueness of the brand. They also developed a fictional web series that featured millennial-aged characters that people can relate to.
Tide (Proctor & Gamble)
While some may see using the famous Tide Pods to do laundry as being lazy, millennials just like things that are convenient and are energy-efficient. This is why the pods are so popular among the millennial generation. They love the innovation behind the product and the fact that laundry is hassle-free.
With Tide Pods, consumers no longer need to carry about a heavy bottle of laundry soap or worry about spilling their laundry detergent or pouring too much into the washing machine. Their commercial that reiterated that their Pods would “provide excellent results with minimal time and effort” solved a need for millennials and created the marketing message to back up their claim.
Gillette specializes in developing and selling razors. They embraced millennial marketing significantly with their “Kiss & Tell” campaign and called on the input of women across the US. After surveying 1,000 women, they concluded that one-third of participants avoided kissing guys because of their facial hair.
The “Kiss & Tell” campaign included a YouTube documentary, website, and live “experiments”. The campaign gained traction, causing people to participate in their live experiment. The video attracted 2 million views on YouTube. While the video is no longer available on YouTube, people can still view it on Gillette’s Facebook page.
With the success of their campaign, Gillette allowed consumers to contribute to their marketing. They used this campaign to announce the launch of their Sensitive Skin Portfolio and invited consumers to become part of a new product line.
Regardless of people’s thoughts on millennials, their spending power is only growing. If you’re interested in earning this demographic’s loyalty, it’s important to keep their values in mind while developing your products.