Marketing to millennials — the seemingly ever elusive age bracket that marketers and companies desperately want to target, but often struggle the most to reach. What makes them so important to marketers, and why are many people so intent on finding ways to connect with this demographic?
The answer is pretty simple. It comes down to numbers and money. The millennial demographic is huge — the largest documented generation in U.S. history. Not only that, but they’re also expected to command a combined spending power of over $1 trillion by the year 2020.
They’re also more computer savvy and digitally connected than any generation in history. With all of these factors taken together, it’s no great wonder that many marketers are desperate to find ways to hook them.
Millennials also seem to be the demographic that’s hardest to win over — but why is that? Well, for the most part, it’s because of outdated marketing techniques. These methods tended to work fairly well on previous generations, which is why they’ve been used for so long. However, the same methods stop working when trying to reach millennials.
This is partially because millennials have so many options and are educated about them. They’re better connected and better able to search out the best options, not simply the options with the flashiest advertising. In other words, if the product is no good, a millennial typically won’t buy it just because it’s the most well-known.
Another reason is that millennials simply don’t use the same media as their parents. More and more millennials watch their TV through streaming services or other web-based viewing platforms. This means TV commercials don’t reach them. They’re also less likely to listen to the radio, instead preferring their own personal music or a web-based streaming service such as Spotify, so they avoid radio commercials as well. And when is the last time you’ve ever seen a millennial reading a physical newspaper? Print ads are almost certainly off the table, too.
While it might seem like millennials are impossible to reach, this isn’t true. In fact, advertising to millennials is much easier than you might think. It simply requires a mindset shift and a willingness to look toward the future and embrace new technology and trends.
To help get you started, we’ve put together a guide of some of our favorite tips on how to market to the millennial generation.
Who Are the Millennials?
Let’s begin by covering the basics. What is the millennial age group, anyway?
While generations are a somewhat nebulous category with no clear boundaries on either side, experts tend to agree that millennials are those between the ages of 23 and 39 in 2020. Since this is only an age group that covers about 16 years, it might be hard to believe that this generation is so huge.
However, the fact is that millennials are officially the largest generation in United States history, surpassing the baby boomer generation to reach a height of just over 75 million in 2015.
Aside from sheer numbers, though, one of the features that currently makes this age group so desirable is the fact that most individuals of this age are hitting huge life milestones. They’re attending and graduating college, starting their career, buying their first houses and renting their first apartments, getting married and starting to have children. Almost all of these milestones entail significant purchases, meaning that millennials are a generation set to begin dropping some serious cash.
The only issue is the world has changed quite a bit since the millennials’ parents were hitting these same milestones, so spending habits and monetary priorities are wildly different. The fact that many companies are coming to realize is that millennials are characterized by unique purchasing habits and spending priorities, as well as an overall reluctance to spend money on things previous generations could readily be depended upon to buy.
Because of this, marketers need to be willing to change up their strategies to attract the millennial generation.
Brands that Appeal to Millennials
Let’s take a brief look at some companies that are doing this extremely well and are having great success with the millennial demographic:
Monster Energy Drinks
With some of these entries, it’s not hard to imagine why they appeal to millennials. Tech giants like Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and more appeal to the millennials’ desire for instant, portable and conveniently accessible content and connection.
Others, such as Walmart and Victoria’s Secret may come as more of a surprise. Their success, however, seems to lie in their ability to adapt to the changing times and their willingness to experiment with new strategies. Walmart, for example, may be popular among millennials because it appeals to their thriftiness and desire to not spend more money than necessary on everyday essentials.
Companies like Amazon are obviously popular because of their enormous selection and their unbeatable convenience appeal. In particular, Amazon is extremely adept at marketing to millennial moms, who combine all the millennial trends we’ve discussed along with an additional lack of spare time. This makes the convenience and affordable prices of Amazon almost a no-brainer.
How to Market to Millennials
Given the right components in your marketing strategy, it’s possible to reach the elusive millennial generation, and it doesn’t have to be complex. Here are some tips to up your millennial marketing game:
1. Meet Them Where They’re At
We mentioned this briefly, but it’s so important that it’s worth making this our first real point. Millennials don’t watch a lot of TV — on the TV. They’re far more likely to subscribe to Netflix, Hulu or some other online platform. They don’t really listen to traditional radio programs, either, instead preferring their own tunes or podcasts. They also don’t often read physical newspapers. They’d rather read a few random articles they find shared on social media that interest them directly.
What this means is that if you’re only advertising on these traditional platforms, you’re almost entirely missing the millennial cohort. If you want to reach them, you have to move to their territory. Actively manage a social media account — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. Interact with other users. Post lively, engaging content. This works far better to draw millennials in than any newspaper ad ever will.
2. Make Your Content Shareable
While it might feel like an enormous hassle to learn social media platforms and their various conventions, it’s also a fantastic opportunity. Social media provides people with a platform to share your content. Whereas before, advertising could only be spread through word of mouth, people now can click a single button and share your video or content with their entire network of acquaintances, family, and friends. What’s not to love about that?
There is a small caveat, though. For users to want to share your content, it has to be high-quality. While a simple picture saying, “Buy Our Product! It’s Wonderful!” may get your brand name out there, no one is going to share that with their friends.
Instead, marketers need to produce creative content that catches people’s attention, makes them laugh, asks them an intriguing question or makes a powerful statement. This is the kind of content people will want to share.
In other words, if you want to target millennials, you shouldn’t worry about creating ads. Instead, you should create content that is itself an ad for your product.
One study conducted about millennials and their sharing habits was able to distill a short list of attributes that millennials look for in the content they consume. The list showed that millennials looked for content that was:
Relevant to them
If your content does not satisfy at least a few of these criteria, millennials will all too quickly pass it over and move on to the next thing. If, on the other hand, you consistently produce content that is funny, unique and informative, millennials will be far more inclined to share it with their friends.
3. Tailor Your Content to Their Core Values
Millennials have a very strong core set of beliefs that they hold very dear to themselves. Among these are authenticity, transparency, and honesty. Perhaps this has something to do with the incredible amount of media and marketing they are bombarded with every day. Because they are flooded with so much content, they’ve needed to become adept at quickly sniffing out what content feels “real” and which feels insincere and manipulative.
While this might sound like vague and unhelpful advice, it has a very practical application. Millennials trust people and companies who seem like they genuinely believe in their product and mean what they say. They trust marketing that sounds like it was written “in their language.”
While we’re not suggesting you should begin randomly throwing around slang terms and internet vernacular without properly understanding what you’re saying, there are plenty of ways to make your voice sound authentic. Hire a few young people to help curate a young, fresh-sounding voice. Actively participate in social media and gain brand ambassadors who will be willing to testify to their peers on your behalf.
Ultimately, the goal here is to create authentic associations with your brand. When your brand is mentioned on the street, you want millennials to immediately think of all the authentic and sincere conversations they’ve heard about it.
4. Understand That It’s a Give and Take
When it comes to marketing to millennials, you have to view it as a two-way street. For the most part, millennials are completely unfazed by giving out personal information. They do it every day. They just expect that every website they visit is collecting data about them. It’s not even a point of contention.
However, while they’re usually more than willing to give you information about themselves, they do expect something in return. For example, they’re often perfectly willing to let a website take information about their browsing history as long as the website has something they’re genuinely interested in.
The same holds true for marketing. Millennials will gladly add their name to your email distribution list or recommend your site to a friend as long as they’re getting something in return. Consider providing a coupon discount in exchange for signing up for emails or enter their name into a giveaway in exchange for sharing a link.
5. Adopt a Personal Approach
Millennials are surrounded every day by giant companies and corporations trying to sell them things. In fact, a hallmark of the millennial generation is a disenchantment with these big businesses, which they see as uninterested in forming relationships with customers or developing a rapport or trust with the public.
This opens a huge window for smaller companies to connect with millennials on a personal level. This generation wants to feel like your company cares about them as a customer. They want to feel like you genuinely care about your product and about the impact you have on the lives of your public.
So take to social media. Comment on posts tagging you in them. Share personal stories about your company. Reach out to individuals. Make an effort for your customers to have a personal experience with your company. All of these things will cause millennials to have a positive view of your business and be more willing to recommend you to a friend.
6. Highlight the Ways You Care as a Company
Above all else, millennials are exceptionally passionate about companies that are committed to ethical practices. If millennials get wind of a company that treats its employees unfairly, has wildly overpriced merchandise or practices environmentally unsafe methods, they will not hesitate to abandon the company — no matter how good their product is.
Again, there is an advantage to this. Highlight the way your company or business chooses to be ethically responsible. Make a large part of your brand the way you treat your employees. Prominently display anecdotes from employees about how they love working for you. Make a section of your website about your environmental initiatives.
In addition to creating rapport with the millennial cohort, these all make great shareable content pieces to spread across your social media as well. Write an article about your sustainability practices or share a video about how you were able to change one customer’s life for the better.
7. Listen to What They Have to Say
Millennials may often be referred to as the Selfie Generation, and while that’s largely used as a derogatory term, there’s a nugget of truth in there that may be helpful to learn from. Millennials are used to having easy access to platforms that let them share their thoughts, feelings, ideas and, yes, their faces with the world.
So why not make use of this? Run surveys asking your customer base about their experience with you. Ask them what they feel you’re doing well and what they think you could do better. Ask them how they feel about your company when compared to your competitors. Since millennials are the most internet-savvy generation, there’s a good likelihood that most of your survey responders will be from this demographic.
There’s a double benefit to running surveys such as this. First, you’ll come across as a brand that cares what your customers have to say. Your customers, including millennials, will see your company as one that listens and tailors itself to match their expectations and desires. This image will go a very long way.
Second, customers love to share their opinion. They like to feel as though they’re making a difference and as though their voice is being heard. Simply running these surveys and letting people share their thoughts with you will create feelings of goodwill.
However, this point does come with a slight warning. If you choose to ask your public for their opinions, be prepared to actually take them seriously. If you take a poll only to turn around a throw it in the garbage, people will begin to sense that you aren’t actually making changes and are merely asking to create a false sense of connection. Don’t be that company, or you’ll risk creating feelings of distrust from your public.
8. Make Sure Your Customers Have a Great Time
Ultimately, millennials want to have a good time. There are so many demands on their schedules and their attention at any given moment, and they’ll be more inclined to give you their attention if they know they’ll have a good time. If your business includes a physical location, make sure everyone who visits it has an amazing time and an easy way to share how great their experience was with their social circle. A great way to do that for a generation fascinated with the power of Instagram and Snapchat is to give them an “Instagramable Moment” to engage with.
This is where Pixilated can really help! Our product bundles include everything you need to easily set up a photo moment in your business and capture leads to help build your customer base. PixiTab & PixiCloud, our hardware/software combo, is a photo kiosk experience that lets guests and customers take pictures of themselves at your location. From there, they can email the picture to themselves and share the fun time they had on social media. It’s simple for both you and your customers, fun for all and instantly creates easily shareable moments. When shared on the internet, these photos help your guests share their picture and experience with their friends, and they help you by getting your brand name out there.
Do you have any more millennial marketing facts? Have you had incredible success by following some of these tips? Be sure to comment and let us know.