By now, smart businesses realize the Millennial generation isn’t just a bunch of hipsters with smart phones taking selfies but rather a generation of consumers 86 million strong— that’s 7% more than baby boomers—and they’re ready to spend money.
In fact, businesses that don’t start tailoring their marketing to Millennials soon are missing out on a major consumer opportunity from a generation with an expected $2.45 trillion annual spending power by 2015; and that figure will surpass boomers’ spending by 2018. The bottom line: Businesses must connect with millennial consumers now because these young adults are the major consumer group of the present and future.
It’s easy for companies to get lost in a world where the term “social media marketing” is used loosely and the major strategy behind marketing to Millennials is the idea of making something “go viral.” If you want to win big with Gen Y, then you need to change your marketing ideas all together. Here is what you need to keep in mind when targeting a Millennial, from the perspective of a Millennial:
1. Don’t Insult Our Intelligence.
We’re a generation that can barely remember a world without the Internet, smart-phones, Google… hell, MySpace is a fading memory in our minds. As a result, we’re quite possibly the most informed consumer generation ever to face marketing professionals. You can bet that, before we’ve made any major purchase, we will have researched it, asked our friends about it on social channels, and searched your reviews online. Lackluster, rushed special offers and overpriced products won’t work like they used to.
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2. Don’t Disguise Your Ad.
We know what your doing, and we’re okay with it. If you’re trying to sell us a product, then sell us your product. While we might love sharing your thought-provoking, emotional video on Facebook (and silently cry at our desks at work), we may never spend a dime on your product. Why? You didn’t show us how your product is actually necessary to our already full, multi-tasking lives. Take, for example, Microsoft’s Child of the 90s Video for Internet Explorer. We laughed, we cried, we shared, and then we went back to using Google Chrome because we didn’t learn anything about IE 9’s new features.
3. Make it Easy to Purchase Online.
We have no reservations, whatsoever, about purchasing online; in fact, we prefer it. And with extensive services like Amazon Prime, our online purchasing expectations have been set pretty high. If your business has been lucky enough to capture our short attention spans, then you should make purchasing online as easy as possible, or we will move on to a company that does. Sidenote: We’re pretty lazy about inputting billing information, so utilizing a service like PayPal will definitely help grab those millennial dollars.
4. Be Socially Conversational, Rather than “Viral.”
Give us something to talk about. (We do talk, you know… We don’t just tweet alone at home.) We appreciate clever viral ads as much as the next guy, but if it doesn’t contribute any new information that we can discuss, then it dies on the social wall of the first millennial in a circle of friends to share it. Create a conversation around your product; don’t just give us a quick two-minute laugh. Look no further than Poo-Pourri’s crude web video. The company made a video that not only sold their product and blatantly portrayed itself as an ad, but it also forced a conversation about the product rather than displaying an easily forgotten cheap moment of humor. You can bet Millennials, most of whom don’t live alone, were talking about this one.
5. Quality and Service Matter Again.
Keeping in mind our access to technology and how easily we can find your competitors online, the service and quality you provide is essential. We notice companies that take the time to provide great, Millennial-friendly services and quality products; we will reward them by recommending them to our friends. Otherwise, expect us to spread our bad experiences and faulty product reviews instead—you must fear the bad Millennial review. Word-of-mouth marketing is very much alive, bigger than ever, and it’s all online. Whether your business is ready to deliver, Millennials are demanding better service and higher quality.
Most companies are recognizing the value in marketing to Millennials. Tailoring your efforts with these five points in mind may save your brand from the scar of a bad reputation and help you market to this increasingly lucrative generation.