Millennials are one of marketers’ biggest challenges. They have tremendous buying power but are skeptical of traditional marketing. This presents a unique challenge: In order to connect with this elusive audience, marketers will need to prioritize the values that matter most to millennials -- like authenticity, individualism and brand experience.
Here are five concrete steps to improve your brand’s millennial-marketing appeal:
1. Tap into social networks.
In the past, advertising was consumed through traditional marketing channels, such as print and television. But millennials are the most digitally connected generation, consuming content across multiple online channels. One way to market to them, then, is a multi-platform approach through social media. A total of 71 percent of U.S. millennials are daily users of social networks and, according to Ipso, are spending a daily average of 5.4 hours on social platforms The best way to access millennials is through the platforms they trust and are already active on.
2. Leverage mass individualism.
While millennials still enjoy and value brands, they no longer want a logo to define them. They want to be the trendsetters, trailblazers and nonconformists. Along those lines, millennials love being recognized for how they use your products post-purchase. The key is to bolster the bearer, not the brand. Highlight the innovative ways millennials are using your products by re-posting their photos on your owned media. It’s a symbiotic relationship -- you validate your millennial customers as individuals, and they validate your brand.
3. Use peer-to-peer word-of-mouth.
Millennials are selective in whom they trust. However, a study by the McCarthy Group showed that they exhibit high levels of trust for content generated by their peers. In response, marketers should prompt a dialogue between current and perspective millennial customers. There are many ways to leverage the content your consumers generate. But the first step is to identify your brand influencers. If you can develop good relationships with your brand influencers, you may be able to get them to share your brand message with their followers. Word-of-mouth marketing is not dead -- rather, it's as powerful as ever due to the prevalence of social network use.
4. Start a 2-way conversation.
Millennials are the first generation to be truly open to engaging with and sharing your brand’s advertisements. Consequently, traditional one-way marketing is an ineffective tactic for driving brand messaging to a generation that has unprecedented access to finding and sharing information online.
Engaging in a two-way conversation on social platforms fosters genuine relationships with millennial customers and helps to win their loyalty. Pay close attention to brand mentions from your customers on social media and try to make an effort to “like” and “comment” on all positive submissions. Remember that social engagement converts customers into brand loyalists, creating a peer-to-peer megaphone of online brand endorsement.
5. Create a seamless omni-channel experience.
In today’s hyper-connected world, it’s essential to streamline your brand experience across multiple devices. Millennials are digital natives and 87 percent use two to three devices at least once a day, according to Elite Daily. Your brand also needs to find innovative ways to bridge the physical and digital divide. The path to purchase (regardless if it’s offline, online or across multiple devices) needs to be made easy. Millennials have high standards for their purchasing experience, and making your website mobile friendly, creating a great native mobile shopping app and offering in-store pickup -- are just a few ways to bridge the chasm.
Millennials are ready to spend money and to advocate for your brand -- if you play by their rules. This generation is looking for brands that have evolved past traditional marketing and that understand the nuances of advertising in the digital space. Millennials are not impossible to sell to, but marketers need to take steps to grow their trust by adapting both the right channel and message.