How to understand and appeal to this misunderstood market.
‘Millennial’ isn’t just a generational buzzword – it represents a huge demographic of consumers born between 1980 – 2000, with an annual buying power of $200 billion in the US alone. Brands and companies race to woo them, but to some marketers, understanding millennials is akin to cracking an unbreakable code.
Attracting this seemingly unattainable crowd isn’t as hard as it seems. What you need is impact, authenticity, and intimacy – basically, speak human.
Social media is the heartbeat of millennials
Today’s 18-30 year olds grew up technology-literate and expect to get all their information online.
They thrive on social media: the average 18-30 year old spends 25 hours a week online.
Although 41% of millennials use Facebook every day, the site’s allure is waning. Platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter are far more popular with millennials. This trend suggests that millennials favor image-based content, in contrast to text.
Think short, sweet and stunning
Millennials grew up saturated with images from television sets and the Internet. After such high levels of visual stimulation, millennials engage better with content that is easily accessible and captivating enough to be worth their while. You are not competing with another ad for viewing time but with the current season of Game of Thrones that they’re binge-watching off the internet.
Use strong aesthetic visuals and concise content that’s easy to digest. Attractive visuals paired with impactful copy will perform far better than a bland post with lengthy text. Think short, sweet, and stunning.
You be you
Hard-sell and product-pushing work even less with this group. After growing up with TV ads, they can detect paid endorsements and false enthusiasm from a mile away.
According to the Elite Daily Millennial Consumer Study 2015, 43% of millennials favor authenticity and respond more to organic approaches. This can include video tutorials, that shift the conversation from “This is my product, buy it!” to “This is how you can benefit from using my product, we want to help”. Millennials want to believe that the companies they endorse have their best interests in mind. MAC Cosmetics does a great job here.
Intimacy aids authenticity. With social media opening up new channels of customer engagement, it is becoming crucial for brands to engage in two-way conversations with millennials in order to create a lasting connection with them. 62% of millennials in the Elite Daily study above say that they will be loyal to companies that interacted with their consumers on social media.
Twitter is a case in point. It facilitates interaction between businesses and their customers, allowing them to address their customer’s needs. By maintaining a presence on social media, companies are able to diverge from an image of a looming, intimidating corporation, to a fresh, youthful, and “woke” brand that is willing to keep up with their audience. Wendy’s shook the web earlier this year with their roasts and witty responses to Twitter users.
Give the world a Coke (bottle)
Combining impactful, authentic, and intimate approaches can be successful. Coca-Cola was losing shares and brand relevance in 2010. In response, they developed the “Share A Coke” campaign to reach out to millennials. Their classic bright red bottles were adorned with “Share A Coke with…”, followed by a person’s name. Consumers were encouraged to share their experiences on Twitter through the hashtag #ShareaCoke, which were featured on the Coca-Cola website and on billboards.
This campaign was a hit. Millennials responded well to this method, as it allowed them to connect with their friends and Coca-Cola. Conversations, driven by consumers rather than companies, took root across several platforms. This personalized campaign, where buyers could relate to the product, resulted in 500,000 photos shared via the hashtag, and 25 million new followers on Coca-Cola’s Facebook page. Coca-Cola managed to engage customers, without sacrificing their branding and ethos.
Millennials are wired towards visually appealing, honest, and authentic strategies that consider their voices and cater to their unique personalities. They yearn to feel connected to the products they use.
When executed poorly, the consequences can be dire thanks to social media adding fuel to the bad publicity fire.
Microsoft attempted to appeal to young interns in 2016 through a cringe-worthy mass-email. In bright-pink, the email called their audience “bae <3”, and invited them to their “lit” after party with “hella noms, lots of dranks” and beer pong. Due to this embarrassing attempt at contemporary slang, Microsoft were ridiculed by the target audience.
Companies should aim to be familiar, without abandoning their brand. Microsoft came across more like Regina George’s overly enthusiastic mom in Mean Girls (2004), rather than a 42-year-old tech giant, with a market value of $510billion.
Note: This post is written by a millennial who would sit through a 5-minute Buzzfeed video about the durability of different lipsticks, but gets triggered by a pre-roll YouTube ad.