I'm a millennial - one of the 2.5 billion people worldwide between the ages of 18 and 35. I only moved out at 27 (life's pretty pricey) and live in a world hit by recessions and economic crisis, but I'm hopeful nonetheless. I like artisan food and gourmet coffee. I never go anywhere without my smartphone. And when I buy, I choose to support brands with a conscience, a reason for being and with a focus on sustainability. For me, minimalist living is highly appealing, and I want products or services that make my life easier, smarter, more organised and functional (but not boring). I believe in unlimited possibilities and choices.
If I encountered your brand's marketing, what would I think? Would you be pitching me ideas based on the traditional values that appealed to my parents? Would you try reaching me with commercialised babble that subtly implies I'm just another member of a generation of young adults trying not to grow up? Would I care about your product or service?
It's sounds harsh to say, but it's quite likely the truth. In reality, the millennial generation, a third of the world's population, is one of the most challenging generations for marketers to reach. We're a generation that celebrates diversity, discovery, passion and happiness. We've got different expectations to those of our predecessors, and it's up to marketers to adapt and meet them.
What do Millennials Expect?
Millennials, also called Generation Y, have a strongly non-traditional view of the world. We've grown up with a vast array of choices in life, far more than was afforded to any previous generation. Traditional marketing doesn't work on millennials, who expect to have their unique identities and viewpoints recognised by marketing efforts, and actively resist being pigeon-holed into a specific demographic based on generalised norms, or being treated as just another member of the masses.
So how can you ensure your marketing doesn't fall flat?
Marketers need to focus on the sweet spot that lies in the space between millennials' values, wants and needs. This is a highly specific area - so avoid generalisations at all cost and dig deep on the research front. Get to know your buyer persona profiles exceptionally well by doing plenty of solid research before planning your campaigns.
Traditional marketing has often used the various life stages of individuals as a focus area for their marketing efforts. This doesn't work on non-traditional millennials - they're unique in their approach to life and traditional constructs like "family" or "community" mean different things to them. There're also certain traditional milestones no longer as accessible for millennials due to changing economic climates and conditions.
It's a far better approach to embrace the non-linear lifestyle defining millennials and to target their social group status instead. Do they have social causes close to home? Perhaps alternative lifestyles or unique social identities? Understanding these concepts and targeting them is key.
Having grown up as digital natives, millennials and their tech are inseparable. As such, if your marketing efforts aren't mobile-responsive, whether it’s your email formatting, web design or blog, you're going to take a knock. Work at integrating your marketing efforts into other digital platforms and ensure your site is super quick and well-designed. Go mobile. Just do it - it will pay off.
Gen Y-ers aren't interested in topics or approaches that lack relevancy and aren't engaging. Let's face it, this is true irrespective of your generation. But thanks to growing up with the internet and social media, millennials are more aware of relevancy in the content they consume than previous generations. They place a high value on engagement - so work hard at building a community and brand evangelists if you want to boost the efficacy of your marketing efforts. Draw your target audience in with engaging stories and behind-the-scenes peeks at who your company is and what you do. Showcase your company's personality and be more relatable.
Again, something of a no-brainer - and certainly not exclusive to millennials. Keep your brand authentic and open at all times. Make your policies clear cut and your message genuine. Support causes your business values and celebrate your company's culture and beliefs.
Millennials want to be happy and have fun. Keep your tone informal and light, and save the heavy business-vibe for someone else. But don't think this means dumbing down your message; that flies in the face of the previous point, and you'll be called out for it in a shot.
For Gen Y-ers, being able to engage is a big deal. Whether it's on social media, comments on videos and blog posts, meet-ups and events or community involvements - they want to reach out and interact. Many millennials rely on avenues like social media platforms to voice their complaints and compliments alike; so don't neglect this vital element in your marketing strategy! Its power is undeniable, as many companies have learnt the hard way - it only takes one viral complaint to create a sea of problems. Work at your social media presence. Make it amazing.
Reaching millennials isn't as challenging as many marketers make out - it just requires a shift in perspective and a willingness to change. Are you a millennial with some tips for us? Let us know!