Marketers have long grouped generations by their demographic distinctions, such as Baby Boomers and Generation Xers. In addition to being clever and catchy, these labels have enabled marketers to better reach and resonate with each target audience. Today, the latest label belongs to Millennials, whose ages range from 18 to 34, but beneath their youth lies an estimated $1.3 trillion in spending power in the U.S. alone. As a result, marketers have fixed their focus on this youthful group in an effort to understand what distinguishes Millennials from previous groups and how this generation will drive innovation and adaptation in consumer marketing. Fortunately, a recent report by The Boston Consulting Group has tapped into the minds and motivations of Millennials to highlight the five factors defining how marketers can capture and cater to these consumers.
1. Rethink Reach – Tech-savvy Millennials opt to engage with brands via social media and mobile devices much more frequently than any other generation. Due to their frugal nature and financial necessity, they always strive to save time, money, and effort. Social media and mobile devices let them save all three, which is why they spend so much of their time on them. As a result, brands are able to reach Millennials much more effectively via these social and mobile means. Moving forward, brands need to leverage these platforms and develop more cross-channel, cross-media and cross-device strategies to ensure that their messages reach Millennials.
2. Realize Who’s Relevant – Influence is an interesting thing and it appears that Millennials have their own opinions on whose opinions really matter. While previous generations relied on experts when making purchasing decisions, Millennials tend to trust the advice of friends, family and even strangers much more. Of course, the Internet and social media make it easy to ask advice and find feedback in an instant, so digital convenience is clearly driving this distinction. Celebrity culture also has a greater impact on this generation than any other, which makes celebrity choices and endorsements much more influential today.
3. Build Your Brand to Be Representative and Responsible – According to the Boston Consulting Group report, half of Millennials aged 18 to 24 and one-third aged 25 to 34 identify with brands on a much more personal level than older generations. They simply prefer brands that represent their own personal views and values. They also believe that brands should share their sense of social responsibility and support social causes. This means that marketers need to understand Millennials by maintaining an ongoing dialogue with them, and then build their brand to represent what matters most to this market. But these efforts need to be authentic and the brand must be willing to evolve in order to truly personify the personality of this audience.
4. Be Available for an “Open” Relationship – While many Millennials believe that 24-7 availability is a must for brands that want to engage them, they’re actually among millions of consumers who are also always digitally connected and expect the same from their brands. Many marketers are already meeting this need by providing round-the-clock coverage on their social media channels to ensure that they’re available to answer any question at any time. This is especially important for e-commerce companies because the Web is always open for business and you want to be ready when shoppers open their wallets.
5. Share the Wealth with Referrals – According to the report, more than half of U.S. Millennials are willing to share brand preferences with their social networks. This market trusts the opinions of outside sources and actively seeks out referrals. They also like being asked for recommendations and aren’t shy about sharing suggestions. For brands to make their mark on Millennials, they need to cultivate credible sources for referrals and let this market do their marketing for them.
Millennials are a unique generation and their preference for personal interaction could completely change consumer marketing. But once brands understand what this market values, they can make their marketing much more valuable.
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Written by Michael Del Gigante