There are many misnomers out there about Millennials, who are often thought of as lazy and self-centered but have actually asserted themselves as active brand participants and mission-driven individuals. Stereotypes aside, as discussed in a recent blog post, marketers must take note of what has become America’s largest generation; one that is gaining considerable spending power as well as wielding great influence on their parents and grandparents.
Marketers have found that along with this increased clout comes a constantly moving target. Millennials are not only consuming an unprecedented amount of media, but they are also interacting with media unlike ever before. They don’t respond to or necessarily trust traditional advertising that targeted previous generations based on traditional milestones like getting married, buying a home and starting a family. In fact, Millennials often fail to even see such promotional tactics given their tendency to skip, block and altogether ignore ads.
Therefore, brands should embrace Millennials as a wholly different generation with new motivations and expectations; a market made up of individuals that can either serve as their greatest advocate or detractor in our ever-expanding digital universe. Companies must come to see their need to evolve with Millennials and redefine themselves in this light.
Featured here are five approaches that successful brands have taken to not only target Millennials, but to further engage with them in order to establish brand loyalty and lifelong connections that will keep the market aligned with their products and services for years to come.
Do Your Research
One of the first steps companies should take is their due diligence in researching how Millennials operate within their respective markets. In addition to the wealth of information online, marketers are encouraged to go beyond secondary research and conduct research of their own. Given Millennials’ digital minds, companies can leverage their social media channels to glean insights or administer more formal surveys to seek this feedback.
Conducting research, and particularly primary research, offers important takeaways about what you can be doing to improve your brand and its offerings for Millennials. Equally as significant, seeking meaningful feedback about your products and services allows Millennials to influence what you do and become more bought into your brand.
Open a Dialogue
A key strategy in engaging Millennials is creating a dialogue with them. This generation isn’t only interested in being informed, but also seeks to be involved in a two-way conversation so they can let you know what they want and how they want to get it. Allowing them to feel connected and involved with your brand paves the way for a more personal connection to be created.
One brand that has found immense success in partnering with its target audience in the brand planning and activation process is ABC’s Scandal. The show’s creator and stars have connected with their die-hard fan base through grassroots social media efforts in which they not only regularly tweet about the show, but tweet and engage with fans live during each week’s episode as well. This approach has helped viewers feel like they’re part of an organic experience that helps shape how the show’s story is told.
Can you believe that we are only HALF WAY?!?!?! #ScandalFinale
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) April 18, 2014
Get Creative and Integrate
To cut through all the clutter, companies are now constantly forced to be innovative and unique in their marketing strategies. More and more they’re getting on Millennials’ levels and engaging them with a combination of digital and visual tactics. Brands are encouraged to go visual as often as possible in the digital space, which includes producing content like infographics and video. Many have also begun creating gamified applications. Professional sports franchises like the Oakland Athletics have been particularly proactive in creating these kinds of contests on social media.
— Oakland Athletics (@Athletics) May 7, 2014
Integration is now all the more important, too, given the many digital tools available to marketers these days. Brands that integrate their content across multiple channels can curate a shareable brand experience for Millennial consumers. Oreo accomplished this with its Daily Twist campaign that leveraged digital, mobile and social properties to showcase 100 variations of the cookie over the course of 100 days. The company did so with an eye on historic events as well as relevant social and cultural events that aligned with Millennial interests and values.
Showcase Your Social Purpose
One of Millennials’ most noteworthy traits is their authenticity. Not only do they strive to be authentic, but they expect their favorite brands to be honest, genuine and transparent as well. This mission-driven generation is compassionate about social issues, which extends to their spending habits and brand preferences. Millennials thus expect brands to have a social purpose beyond their bottom line and support those that are actively engaged in furthering a cause associated with their values.
Companies that make a difference globally and within local communities stand a stronger chance of making inroads with Millennials. One company finding continual success in this respect is Nike, which has used its “Designed to Move” physical activity initiative to spur inspiration and innovation not simply through products and sponsorships, but through education and programming as well.
Millennials are always looking to add value to their lives, meaning marketers must determine how their product or service provides a necessary benefit to them as they build their goals and identities. A healthy lifestyle is one such life pursuit of many Millennials. A brand having capitalized on this key insight is Chipotle, which has coupled more nutritious offerings with its “Food with Integrity” messaging that leverages the sustainably raised ingredients for which the brand has now become so known.
Another company offering clear benefit to Millennials’ lives is Uber. The global driving service combines convenience with affordability to provide utility in a way that cab companies and public transportation cannot. Uber has uniquely capitalized on Millennials’ affinity for all things tech to deliver its service right from their own fingertips.
— Uber (@Uber) January 17, 2014
With Millennials’ unprecedented levels of media consumption and the digital space expanding like never before, marketers are being forced to cut through immense clutter to capitalize on the market. These five approaches offer proven strategies to engage the all-important Millennial generation, whose brand loyalty companies hope to capture and subsequently convert into spending and influence. So take a page from the brands above and begin determining how your company can tap into Millennials within its respective market
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