Like it or not, millennials are becoming harder to ignore. Already accounting for one third of the US workforce, by 2025, millennials will make up a whopping 75 percent! That makes them a growing demographic with sizable purchasing power. It also means that whatever line of work you’re in, it’s more than likely you’ll be marketing to millennials. But what do we know about this dominant market segment, beyond the fact that they can barely remember a world without smartphones or social media? Here’s a few ways to effectively catch the attention of Gen Y.
Get behind a cause
Millennials are socially conscious and they look to work for and buy from companies that give something back. A Nielsen Global Study on Corporate Sustainability revealed that as much as 73 percent of millennials would pay more for products that are socially responsible. So, if you haven’t caught onto social entrepreneurship as a sustainable business model yet, it’s about time you did.
Jia Wertz, founder and CEO of Studio 15 clothing label for millennial women, knows a thing or two about getting behind a cause. As a Generation Y woman herself, Wertz was compelled to start Studio 15 after a trip to Uganda, where she volunteered with Kleos Microfinance Group helping local women develop sustainable businesses. For every item of clothing the fashion-forward company sells, 5% is donated to helping women in developing countries start their own sustainable businesses.
This model of philanthropy is echoed in many a successful online business. Watch brand, 1Face, for example, sells charity watches that “change the world.” Like Studio 15, they sell cutting-edge, fashionable products tailored to their target market, that give back to people in need. Each available color represents a different charity. Customers can select the timepiece that suits their outfit while raising awareness and supporting the cause of their choice. These are just a couple of examples of dynamic companies rocking social responsibility to capture their customers’ attention — and it’s working.
Transparency above all
Supporting a cause is an excellent way of resonating with millennial customers. And the best way of losing favor fast is by not being transparent. Or worse, by making claims to be socially responsible when you’re actually pocketing the profits yourself. If, for example, you build into your core values how much you care about the environment, don’t get caught out using non-recyclable materials. If you say that part of your profits go towards transforming other people’s lives, make sure you show your customers how you’re doing this.
The most successful campaigns on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter are the ones that regularly update their backers. That share their stories and let their supporters know exactly where their money is being directed. Studio 15 updates their blog and social platforms, letting customers know exactly how lives are being changed. Through powerful photos and videos, they help their customers to identify with a greater cause.
You’ve heard the expression “you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” The same is true when it comes to marketing to millennials. They may share the same age and a bunch of other important characteristics. But it would be wrong to consider millennials as one homogeneous block. So, if you want to catch the attention of Gen Y, take a risk and do something controversial.
Studio 15 decided to create a splash and launch The Future is Female collection on (Not My) President’s Day. Wertz wanted to make a statement and speak up against recent actions of the Trump administration. As an immigrant and daughter of a Muslim family herself, Wertz feels strongly about the state of the nation and that it’s time to make a stand.
She acknowledges that this move may cause some customers to turn away, but remains firm in her stance. “We are a female-founded company that strives to serve strong, dynamic women here and abroad through our philanthropic partnerships. It would be a betrayal to ourselves and our customers if we stayed silent.”
This sincerity and commitment to a cause, as well as willingness to cause a little controversy is more than a smart marketing move. For Wertz, whose parents live in Canada, it’s also personal. Should Trump’s travel ban on Muslims take effect, it’s unlikely that her parents will be able to visit her in the United States.
Bleeding edge products, apps, smartphones and all things tech may get you a foothold with millennials. But you don’t necessarily need to be the next Instagram or Apple to woo this demographic. Think about the mindset of your majority of your customers. They care about social cause, so weave social responsibility into your business model. Be transparent, make good use of the social tools at your fingertips and take a leaf out of Wertz’s book. Nothing mobilizes millennials more and better catches their attention than a little controversy.
Read more: Marketing to Gen Y
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