Tips for Marketing to the Millennial Generation

Millennials are a popular topic of conversation. Whether discussing how much you hate or love them, the internet is abuzz with talk of Generation Y. But despite the negativity surrounding this generation, there are currently 80 million Millennials in the U.S. with an annual buying power of over $600 billion.

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Therefore, every marketer should be making this generation a priority.  As a millennial myself, born in 1990, I can attest to understanding our habits, likes, and dislikes. We may be particular and at time unconventional but we are still loyal to brands we love.

According to a Forbes.com and Elite Daily (the voice of Generation Y) collective study, “millennials are highly educated, career-driven, politically progressive and–despite popular belief–do indeed develop strong brand loyalty when presented with quality products and actively engaged by brands.”

With millennials as a driving force in the marketing place, here are a few key tactics geared towards engaging with this super power generation.

1. Authenticity is Essential

According to AdAge, “Millennials are spending an average of 25 hours per week online – and they’re craving content-driven media.” Between searching blogs, websites, YouTube channels and other social media platforms, we are also sharing, liking, tweeting, snapping, forwarding, pinning and commenting our findings, resulting in a huge online community. The content that strongly resounds with millennials is based on what we see value in and trust.

Millennials connect best with people over logos.

For example, blogs. 33% of millennials rely on blogs before they make a purchase, compared to the fewer than 3% who use TV news, magazines, and books. While the older generations rely on traditional media,  millennials look to social media for an authentic look at what’s going on in the world, especially content written by their peers. Despite the fact that blogs are usually run by an individual rather than corporations, millennials trust the blogger’s opinions. We use bloggers as a kind of adviser to help us make a purchasing decision.

Same with social media platforms like YouTube. I know for myself if I am interested in buying any new product or experimenting with a new brand, I first seek out reviews on YouTube. I have access to these reviews anywhere I go on my smartphone and I like the casualness of hearing someone speak candidly about something they do or do not like. Just like you would seek advice from a friend or family member, I can do that with strangers who share my interests on my social networks.

84 percent of Millennials say user-generated content has at least some influence on what they buy, and 73 percent say it’s important to read others’ opinions before purchasing.

Advertisers, therefore, need to find a way to incorporate this information into their campaigns. For brands that want to successfully reach Gen Y-ers, they need to speak our language. Meaning, they need to create content that we will proudly share, like, pin, tweet, snap, and forward to others. That way the can build a real, authentic brand-customer relationship.

2. We Want an Experience

We millennials prefer experiences over possessions. We are more interested in brands that can show us how to improve our lives, rather than brands that are pushy with selling to us.  In an age of growing minimalist and the environmentally conscience, this is particularly important. To us, possessions come and go, but experiences can resonate forever. Advertisers need to ask themselves how their brand can contribute to an overall experience for millennials.

This is where inbound marketing strategies come into play. Millennials want e-books, blog posts, videos, and other how-to information. This is your company’s chance to provide content that ranks high in Google and shows us you know what you are talking about. Millennials are 44% more likely to trust experts. But they are 247% more likely to be influenced by blogs or social networking sites.

Home Depot is an example of a company who is currently killing it with this marketing strategy. Here is their YouTube channel.

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As you can see, there are a number of how-to videos and home improvement DIYs. Not only can you buy all that you need at Home Depot, but you can learn how to install, build and be inspired all the while they are marketing themselves. Their brand and videos will continuously pop up in web searches. With over 100,000 subscribers, Home Depot’s YouTube channel is clearly ranking on Google searches with inquiries about home and garden projects.

By utilizing millennials favorite social media platforms, you can create shareable content and keep up your authenticity and trust.

 

3. Stay Relevant

Trends come and go. We all know that. However, staying on top of what is trending can help your brand, significantly, especially with hashtags and ranking in Google.

Another great brand that is reaching out perfectly to Millennials is Netflix. “While Netflix has a lot of different customers spanning different generations, Millennials are vital to this company. One way that Netflix reaches out to this generation is by having great social media campaigns and linking up Netflix accounts with Facebook. Netflix is constantly on the watch when it comes to this generation because they want to make sure they keep reaching out perfectly. Studies show 75% of millennials with connected televisions are using them to watch Netflix.”

Here is an example of on of their past advertisements.

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They took a popular hashtag about their company, used for more comedic purposes and meme creation, to target their younger generation audience. Now they are part of the trending conversation and staying relevant.

4. Collaboration

Along with wanting an experience, millennials are interested in having a say.  In fact, 42 percent said they are interested in helping companies develop future products and services. They want to be more involved with how products get created. According to aforementioned Forbes.com and Elite Daily (the voice of Generation Y) collective study, “companies that enable them to be part of the product development process will be more successful. Marketers need to focus on building relationships with consumers by fueling their self-expression and helping them establish their own personal brand.”

Here is an example provided by Hub Spot writer Meaghan Moras: “Coca-Cola used online co-creation to gather expressions of its brand promise “Energizing refreshment.” They prompted their audience to unleash their creativity by interpreting Coca-Cola as an energizing refreshment in whatever style or format they wished. Coca-Cola gathered these videos, animations, illustrations, and photographs to use in its marketing campaigns worldwide. This method was mutually beneficially in that Millennials all over the world got to pour a bit of themselves into a product made for them while helping Coca-Cola bring fresh authenticity to the market.”

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5. Communication and Connection

Staying engaged with the millennial generation is very important. This includes commenting on social media posts, posting consistently, and giving us the impression that each customer is important. A great example of how to do this is through giveaways, special discounts, contests, and loyalty programs. A platform we haven’t discussed much yet is Instagram. According to the Huffington Post, “The visual platform has been rapidly growing and now boasts 300 million monthly active users, with 41% being aged 16-24 and at 35% are in their 24-34s.” These numbers show that your brand needs to be engaging with us through this app. The most successful of brands that use Instagram feature photos regularly (have I mentioned how important consistency is?)and dedicate hashtags. They post pictures on their page that their followers have tagged them in. They invite popular Instagrammers to take over their page to keep their brand fresh and new. We millennials are definitely flattered when a brand we love acknowledges us. I know for myself, I have tagged brands in some of my personal Instagram posts and even a “like” back makes me feel special.

Finding ways to boost engagement will do nothing but improve your chances as being noticed by the trendsetting generation.

Wrap Up

Find the authenticity of your brand and run with it.

Stop screaming “buy!” and start yelling” We have an experience for you!”

Stay up to date on trends and use them to your advantage.

Get us involved in your products.

Consistency. Engagement. Connection.